AFTER SLOW START, NU DOMINATES TIGERS
NEW ORLEANS, La. (Jan. 1, 1987) — Southeastern Conference champion Louisiana State shocked Nebraska with a 43-yard pass on the first play of the game and went on in to take a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes of the 1987 USF&G Sugar Bowl.
After that, it was all Nebraska as the Cornhuskers manhandled the Tigers in rolling to a 30-15 win in NU's 25th bowl game appearance.
LSU picked up 64 yards total offense on that first drive, then got 65 more in a scoring drive in the final three minutes against Husker reserves.
In the middle 54 minutes of the game, the Tigers managed only 62 total offense yards and three first downs against a fired-up Black Shirt defensive unit. LSU finished the game with 32 net rushing yards, and 10 first downs, both bowl-game defensive records for Nebraska.
While the defense was throttling the Bayou Bengals, the Steve Taylor-led offense struggled through the first quarter, then began to methodically pick the Tiger defense to pieces. The Huskers didn't get on the board until Dale Klein booted a 42-yard field goal five minutes into the second period, and didn't take the lead until Taylor capped a 72-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 39 seconds left in the first half. In that drive, Taylor completed four of five passes for 42 yards and rushed twice for 10 more.
Leading 10-7, Nebraska took the second-half kickoff and marched 78 yards in nine plays to take a 17-7 lead on a 1-yard run by alternate I-back Tyreese Knox. In that drive, Taylor completed four of four passes for 33 yards, then Knox set up his touchdown with a 34-yard run to the Tiger 1-yard line.
Late in the third period, the defense stepped in to deny LSU's last serious threat. The Tigers had blocked a Klein field goal attempt and returned the loose ball to the Husker 17. They were in position to get back in the game, but back-to-back sacks by Broderick Thomas and Danny Noonan on the last two plays of the quarter threw LSU back 24 yards and, for all practical purposes, out of the ball game. The Tigers ended up punting from the Nebraska 40.
Taylor, who was voted the Miller-Digby Trophy as the game's most valuable player, later accounted for 48 yards of a 72-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter, including a 3-yard scoring strike to tight end Todd Millikan which gave the Huskers an insurmountable 24-7 lead with six minutes left.
Any last chance glimmer of hope LSU might have had was snuffed out seconds later when cornerback Brian Davis intercepted a Tom Hodson pass and returned it 36 yards to the Tiger 12. Four plays later, Knox powered over from a yard out for a 30-7 lead.
The win came in Nebraska's 25th bowl appearance. It was the Huskers' fourth bowl victory over LSU in as many tries and their third over the Tigers in five years. It also came on the heels of a crushing, 20-17, loss to Oklahoma in the final regular-season game, a defeat which cost Nebraska a share of the Big Eight title and a possible national-title shot.
"I was pleased with the effort we gave," Husker Coach Tom Osborne said. "We could have gone either way, either responded to the challenge or not. We weren't playing for the national championship. The Big Eight championship was out the window. The only thing we had left was the Sugar Bowl, and we accepted that challenge."
SOURCE: 1987 NU MEDIA GUIDE