Johnny Rodgers’ 72-yard punt return touchdown in the Game of the Century never loses its appeal.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Husker Football Fans Thinking One Thing: Start Me Up

By NU Athletic Communications

To "Respond to Randy" click on the link below and choose "Randy York's N-Sider" under "Area of Interest" on the new screen. Please include your name and hometown and share your thoughts on Johnny Rodgers’ 1971 punt return, which just might be the most famous play in Nebraska football history. Your comments may be published at the bottom of this article, so please, check back.

It’s still July, and Nebraska football fans have a serious case of the seven-month-itch.

Last week’s exposure on ESPN’s College Football Live was a tasty appetizer for the main course, which won’t be served for another 45 days when Nebraska hosts Florida Atlantic.

In the meantime, Husker fans will have to settle for reports beginning next week from Big 12 Football Media Days in Dallas and the Nebraska Football Fan Day Aug. 8 at Memorial Stadium.

While you’re waiting, you might as well whet your appetite watching Johnny Rodgers weave the same path he did when he found the end zone on that memorable 1971 Game of the Century punt return touchdown at Oklahoma.

How many times have you seen that play? Most of us have Lyell Bremser’s signature description still ringing in our heads: “He’s all the way home! Holy Moley!  Man, woman and child, did that put them in the aisles!”

Yes, Rodgers’ sensational 72-yard punt return was the difference in Nebraska’s 35-31 win over the Sooners, and ESPN liked it so much that it featured the play more than once on the same College Football Live program.

If a play like that causes a national network to use it multiple times, what do you think it does to get Husker fans’ adrenaline going nearly four decades later?

This week, for instance, our Fan Poll asked those who watched ESPN’s 50-State Tour feature on Nebraska about their thoughts concerning the coverage.

About 22 percent of the voters said that Husker tradition was well showcased. Another 16-plus percent said the tone of the ESPN show was very positive. But 58 percent – or nearly 500 of those who voted – said, flatly: “I’m ready for the season to start right now.”

I’m guessing that Rodgers’ touchdown is one of those traditional catalysts that help you count down to kickoff, and Bremser’s voice just makes the choreography all that much more inspiring.

So, courtesy of ESPN, gives Husker fans who missed the College Football Live show the chance to hear Brent Musburger say the magical words that all recruits love to hear: “Welcome to Nebraska, where dominance abounds.”

Musburger went on to make several key points about Nebraska football tradition, including:

-- The Huskers’ 827 wins, fourth best all-time among Division I schools.

-- Nebraska’s 45 bowl appearances, which ranks fifth best all-time.

-- NU’s eight Outland Trophy winners – No. 1 of all time and,

-- The Huskers’ five national championships, including back-to-back titles twice, and, as Musburger says, "an incredible 46 conference championships."

In the same show, ESPN conducted a quick poll to determine Nebraska’s all-time greatest player and also ran highlights from five of the Huskers’ all-time greatest games. has come up with a poll of its own that might challenge you while you watch Rodgers’ punt return one more time in Norman – a play so familiar that it’s on constant rewind for Husker fans everywhere. 

While there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek to our poll, we want you to fess up. Tell us how many times you’ve watched Johnny the Jet’s most famous punt return ever. Some of you probably lost count long ago, but please, do your best to estimate how many times you’ve seen No. 20 zig and zag into the recesses of your mind.

If you can’t stop watching the play, tell us why.

We’ll try to get you some help from others with the same affliction.

Holy Moley, that’s the least we can do.

Click Respond to Randy and choose "Randy York's N-Sider" under "Area of Interest" on the new screen. Please include your name and hometown and share your thoughts on Johnny Rodgers’ 1971 punt return.

Voices from Husker Nation

NU Alum Produced ESPN Show

I’m a Nebraska alum and now an ESPN employee and a production assistant on the College Football Live show. I produced the Nebraska 50 State Tour piece and just want to say how honored I am that the show is posted on Just like any other fan, I bleed Husker Red and wanted that to show through this piece. I hope I did Nebraska proud. Lyndsay Lee, Hartford, Conn.

Editor's Note: Lyndsay is a native of Grand Forks, N.D., and followed two older brothers to the University of Nebraska. She worked for the Husker Sports Network (now the Husker Marketing Network) before joining ESPN. 

The Epitome of College Football Plays

I have lived in Oklahoma for 22 years now, and honestly, with a tear in my eye and a chest swollen with pride, can say “There Is No Place Like Nebraska!” I’m originally from Blue Springs, Nebraska, south of Lincoln – about 50 miles as the crow flies. I graduated from NU in 1972, the same year Johnny Rodgers won the Heisman Trophy.

Through the years, I have seen many imitators and want-to-be’s, especially here in the Sooner state, but have to tell you the constant diet of Sooner plays is no match for the epitome of college football plays – Johnny’s famous punt return and Lyell Bremser’s equally stirring commentary in 1971. That particular play has to be at the very top of all college football plays, marching bands notwithstanding. J. Casebeer

20 Times? Try 200 Times!

It was clever to offer 20 as the last choice for Husker fans taking mental inventory of how many times we’ve watched Johnny Rodgers’ punt return from the 1971 Game of the Century. Since three of every four fans voting in your poll selected the highest number possible, that begs a question – couldn’t that number be much higher than 20? For me, and a lot of people I know, it’s no exaggeration to estimate having seen that punt return 200 times on video.That’s an average of only five times a year since it happened.You’ll never see Husker fans turn their heads or switch a channel when that play comes on, no matter how many times we’ve seen it.That’s why producers keep putting it on the air. Steve Sorum, Lincoln, Neb.

Editor’s Note: The Fan Poll on Johnny the Jet’s 1971 punt return ended July 27. Of the 1,804 total votes cast by Husker fans, 1,354 fans, or 75 percent of the voters, estimated they’ve seen Rodgers' punt return at least 20 times on video. Another 285 fans, or 16 percent, indicated they’ve seen the play "maybe 10 times". Another 121 fans said they’ve seen it "at least five times", and only 47 fans claimed to have seen the play "just once or twice." The total vote count was only one short of a Larry the Cable Guy poll earlier this month.  





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