Beating the Bear

Alabama coach Bear Bryant is escorted by Alabama State Troopers off the field at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 17, 1977, after his fourth-ranked Crimson Tide lost to Nebraska 31-24.

the Lincoln Journal Star

Sept. 17, 1977

For the first time under fifth-year coach Tom Osborne, Nebraska entered a football game unranked, having lost its season opener to Washington State 19-10.

Then Osborne went against his conservative nature in outsmarting coaching legend Bear Bryant. Osborne called three trick plays, including an I-back pass and a fake field goal, during a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that lifted the Huskers to a 31-24 victory against No. 4 Alabama at Memorial Stadium.

Two years earlier, Osborne was overheard calling Bryant a “son of a buck” for allegedly ducking Nebraska in a bowl game, a comment Osborne said was “not meant for print” and blown out of proportion.

“To beat a team coached by Bear Bryant is a great feeling — out of respect for him, not animosity,” Osborne said.

— Brian Rosenthal