No. 11: Nebraska’s Tommie Frazier in 1996 Fiesta Bowl
Tommie Frazier made the greatest run I didn’t see in that ’95 Fiesta Bowl. You remember the run. He ran the option right against Florida, faked the pitch, gained a few yards and then ran into defenders. I looked down at my play-by-play sheet to mark down how many yards he had gained. And then I heard the crowd going crazy. I looked up: Frazier was running into the end zone. It wasn’t until later than I saw him break or run through four tacklers on the way to the end zone.
He ran for 199 yards, scored two touchdowns and threw for another in Nebraska’s 62-24 destruction of Florida. Again, there are others who have put up more impressive numbers. But the setting made for something special: That was No. 1 vs. No. 2 in a bowl game. The national championship was on the line. And, in memory, Florida was pretty heavily favored. I think this is because Florida was a flashy passing team while Nebraska was a grinding power team. Florida seemed futuristic. Nebraska seemed stodgy and outdated.
And Nebraska so thoroughly crushed Florida — led by Frazier’s running, a couple of key passes and decision making — that it left me with a thought I have carried with me ever since: We don’t really KNOW what team is best until they play. We can guess. We can predict. We can analyze. We can rank. But reality is complicated. And something amazing can happen when you’re looking to write something down.