Lincoln (Sept. 13, 1997) - In the week leading up to Nebraska’s game with Central Florida, Husker Coach Tom Osborne frequently praised the Golden Knights’ talent. Few believed Osborne’s warning about the second-year Division I program. However, after one half of play, everyone in the crowd of 75,327 and people around the country took notice of Central Florida.
The Golden Knights rode the strong right arm of Daunte Culpepper and a fleet of speedy receivers to a 17-14 halftime lead over No. 6 Nebraska. In the third quarter, Nebraska responded to the UCF challenge, scoring 17 unanswered points to open a two-touchdown lead.
Kris Brown connected on a 21-yard field goal early in the third quarter to tie the game and true freshman I-back Correll Buckhalter had scoring runs of 13 and five yards to give the Huskers the 14-point lead. Central Florida gave the Huskers a late scare, scoring with just over seven minutes remaining to cut the Nebraska lead to 31-24.
However, the Huskers showed the mark of a championship team, marching 69 yards in eight plays for the clinching touchdown run by Scott Frost, giving NU a 38-24 win. Nebraska’s offense was clicking on all cylinders against UCF, rolling up 514 yards in total offense, including 364 on the ground. Ahman Green rushed for 113 yards on 25 carries, while Buckhalter added 82 yards and two scores. Frost threw for 120 yards and a second-quarter touchdown to tight end Sheldon Jackson.
On the defensive side, rover Mike Brown led the Huskers with nine tackles, while Jason Peter had 1 1/2 sacks and Grant Wistrom also got to the Central Florida quarterback. Culpepper finished the afternoon with 318 yards passing on a 24-of-35 performance.
Note: While former CFU quarterback Daunte Culpepper is now the starting quarterback for the Raiders, the Huskers boast 10 current NFL players who were members of the 1997 National Championship Team. With the exception of Dominic Raiola, who has an off-week, the rest of the Huskers will be in action the week of the reunion and unable to attend. The current NFL players from NU’s 1997 national championship team are listed below.
Current NFL Players from the 1997 Team (10)
Kris Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers 1999-2001, Houston Texans 2002-present)
Mike Brown (Chicago Bears 2000-present, XLI Super Bowl--injured reserve)
Ralph Brown (N.Y. Giants 2000-03, Minnesota Vikings 2004-05, Cleveland Browns 2006, Arizona Cardinals 2007-present)
Correll Buckhalter (Philadelphia Eagles 2001-present)
Ahman Green (Seattle Seahawks 1998-99, Green Bay Packers 2000-06, Houston Texans 2007-present)
Russ Hochstein (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2001, New England Patriots 2002-present, XXXXIII, XXXIX Super Bowls)
Carlos Polk (San Diego Chargers 2001-present)
Dominic Raiola (Detroit Lions 2001-present)
Mike Rucker (Carolina Panthers 1999-present, XXXVIII Super Bowl)
Kyle Vanden Bosch (Arizona Cardinals 2001-04, Tennessee Titans 2005-present)
In addition to the above 10 players from Nebraska’s 1997 team who are still playing in the NFL, 17 others saw time in the NFL, including three-time Super Bowl participant Grant Wistrom who recently retired after a nine-year career with St. Louis and Seattle. Finally, three others played in NFL Europe and CFL giving Nebraska 30 players off the 1997 team who played in the professional leagues after their collegiate careers ended, including an astounding 26 in the NFL.
Former NFL Players from 1997 Team (16)
- Dan Alexander (Tennessee Titans 2001, Jacksonville Jaguars 2002, currently playing Nashville Kats, Arena Ball)
- Jay Foreman (Buffalo Bills 1999-01, Houston Texans 2002-04, N.Y. Giants 2005)
- Scott Frost (N.Y. Jets 1998-2001, Cleveland Browns 2001, Green Bay Packers 2002, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2003)
- Sheldon Jackson (Buffalo Bills 1999-2001)
- Vershan Jackson (Kansas City Chiefs 1999, Berlin, NFL Europe, 2000)
- Eric Johnson (Oakland Raiders 2000-03, Atlanta Falcons 2004, Arizona Cardinals 2005, XXXVII Super Bowl )
- Chad Kelsay (Pittsburgh Steelers 1999)
- Bill Lafleur (Barcelona, NFL Europe 2001-02, San Diego Chargers 2002 and 2004, San Francisco 49ers 2002-03)
- Joel Makovicka (Arizona Cardinals 1999-2002)
- Jason Peter (Carolina Panthers 1998-2001)
- Erwin Swiney (Green Bay Packers 2002-03, Cologne Centurions, NFL Europe 2004)
- Joe Walker (Tennessee Titans 2001, Indianapolis Colts 2002)
- Eric Warfield (Kansas City Chiefs 1998-2005)
- Steve Warren (Green Bay Packers 2000-02)
- Jason Wiltz (N.Y. Jets 1999-2000)
- Grant Wistrom (St. Louis Rams 1998-2003, Seattle Seahawks 2004-06, XXXIV, XXXVI, XL Super Bowls)
Other Professional League Players from 1997 Team (4):
- Eric Anderson (Amsterdam, NFL Europe 1998-99)
- Eric Crouch (Hamburg Sea Devils, NFL Europe 2005, Toronto Argonauts 2006-07)
- Tony Ortiz (Scotland, NFL Europe 2001-02, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, CFL 2003-05)
- Jon Zatechka (Berlin, NFL Europe, 1998-01)