Iowa's ninth-best football victory in the last 50 years

Rick Brown
Iowa coach Hayden Fry, right, hugs Barry Alvarez after the upset of Nebraska.

Nebraska was a 16-point favorite in the 1981 season opener at Iowa. That actually seemed generous, considering that the Hawkeyes had not had a winning season since 1961 and the Cornhuskers were traditionally a national title contender.

Nebraska had defeated Iowa the previous season in Lincoln, 57-zip. And that's why Iowa's 10-7 victory on Sept. 12 was so stunning.

"This is one of the hardest losses I've had since I've been at Nebraska," losing coach Tom Osborne said. "I think we have better players overall than Iowa does … I think."

In Hayden Fry's third game as Iowa's coach in 1979, his team had a 21-7 lead on Nebraska with 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter and lost 24-21. Two years later, Fry's team finally learned to win a close one. Iowa took a 10-0 lead at halftime on a 2-yard touchdown run by Eddie Phillips and Lon Olejniczak's 35-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.

Shut out for the first three quarters of a game for the first time since the 1974 Sugar Bowl, Nebraska got a break when it recovered Phillips' fumble at the Iowa 33 in the final minute of the third quarter. I-back Roger Craig, from Davenport, eventually scored on a 1-yard run with 11:42 remaining in the game.

After the Cornhuskers' Kevin Seibel missed a game-tying 37-yarder with 6½ minutes to play, Iowa's dream of a Big Red upset became a reality.

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