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Upset on coast ends Huskers’ unbeaten streak
No. 1 ranked Nebraska, seeking its third straight national title, had its 32-game success string abruptly snapped by UCLA in the 1972 opener. With 67,702 fans packing the LA Coliseum, Efren Herrera kicked a 30-yard field goal with only 22 seconds left in the game to trip the Cornhuskers, 20-17. It was the first loss in 33 games for the Huskers, dating back to the Missouri game in 1969. It also snapped a 23-game winning streak – both marks tops in the nation.
UCLA, pepped by new quarterback Mark Harmon and running back James McAllister, jumped off to a 10-0 lead before the sputtering Huskers got on the board with a 28-yard Rich Sanger field goal. Johnny Rodgers’ 11-yard TD run made it 10-10 at halftime, but UCLA refused to fold.
Continued miscues in the second half – Nebraska had four fumbles and two pass interceptions – gave UCLA a solid opportunity, and the Bruins capitalized. A pass interception that was returned to the Husker 15 set up a third-quarter Bruin score, provided on Harmon’s two-yard run.
Humm countered by pitching a 44-yard TD pass to Jerry List for a 17-17 tie. However, the Huskers couldn’t move in two subsequent possessions and UCLA finally marched from its own 43 to the NU 12 before Efren Herrera kicked the winning field goal.
Recap source: 1973 media guide