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It's Business as Usual for Cornhuskers

Nonconference: Nebraska defense makes Frost's quarterback debut a snap in 55-14 victory over Michigan State.


LINCOLN, NEB. — Michigan State caught a few bad breaks here Saturday.

Quarterback Todd Schultz sprained his left ankle on his team's second series and didn't return. Middle linebacker Reggie Garnett was lost late in the first quarter because of a right ankle sprain.

And then there was Nebraska's decision, in a unanimous vote, to go ahead and play the 1996 season.

That one was a real killer.

The Cornhuskers, despite breaking in a new quarterback and sorting out the latest off-the-field mess, star linebacker Terrell Farley's recent suspension for a drunk-driving arrest, took the first stomp toward an unprecedented third consecutive national title with a 55-14 victory before a sellout crowd of 75,590 at Memorial Stadium. It was the Cornhuskers' 26th victory in a row.

This was the same Michigan State team that scored 52 points last week in its season-opening victory against Purdue, meaning either the Big Ten is overrated or that Nebraska belongs in a higher league.

"I'm sure they'll have a run at another national championship," Michigan State Coach Nick Saban said. "We wish them the best."

What more could he say?

And to think some Cornhusker fans were actually nervous.

Faced with the daunting task of replacing All-America quarterback Tommie Frazier, Nebraska unveiled transfer Scott Frost and swaddled him with security blankets: two interception returns for touchdowns--84 and nine yards-- another interception that set up a score, a blocked punt that led to a touchdown and a 62-yard punt return for score.

Frost, who spurned Nebraska for Stanford out of high school, returned to outstretched Nebraskan arms willing to forgive and forget so long as he leads the Cornhuskers to history.

"The only expectations I had was a win," Frost said after his debut. "That's all I was looking for. We went out and got it and got it in a big way."

Frost left the game in the fourth quarter with his team leading, 41-7, although he very little to do with this production.

He completed five of 12 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and gained 58 yards in 10 carries.

The most impressive drive Frost directed was 14 plays and 63 yards, resulting in Kris Brown's 35-yard field goal that put Nebraska up, 10-0.

The rest were housewarming gifts.

Frost scored his first touchdown, on an 11-yard run in the first quarter, after safety Mike Minter intercepted a Schultz pass and set up the Cornhuskers at the Spartan 22.

Not long after Brown's field goal , Mike Fullman returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-0 with 10:42 left in the half.

Three minutes before intermission, Minter stepped in front of a Gus Ornstein pass and returned the interception 84 yard for a touchdown.

It was 27-0 at intermission and Frost had barely broken a sweat.

Then, as he was warming up his arm early in the third quarter, Cornhusker Eric Warfield blocked Paul Edinger's punt, giving Nebraska a first down at the Michigan State 16.

Hey, replacing Tommie Frazier isn't so tough.

In fact, Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne could not have dreamed up a better scenario in which to break in Frost. "For a first ballgame out there, I couldn't be more pleased," Osborne said. "I didn't see any real flaws in what he did. He's going to be a fine player. We'll move the ball better as time goes on."

Frost said he wasn't that nervous before the game, although title-tested teammates detected a few sweat beads.

"Before the game, you could tell he was a little nervous," center Aaron Taylor said. "A bunch of us went to him at the 50-yard line before kickoff, and told him that he's our man."

The Cornhuskers punted on Frost's first two possessions, but Taylor liked the way his new quarterback ran the huddle.

"He showed the leadership every quarterback needs," Taylor said. "He was fired up and saying, 'Let's take it to those guys.' It's comforting to hear that from a new quarterback on the second series."

Frost didn't need much coaxing.

"You don't need to hear too great of a locker-room speech to get you motivated," he said.

Frost knew what he was jogging into.

He was one of the finest quarterbacks the state ever produced, amassing 11,095 total yards at Wood River High School, 105 miles outside Lincoln. Frost's dad, Larry, played wingback for Nebraska in the late 1960s and coached his son at Wood River. Scott's mother, Carol, a 1968 Olympian in the discus, is the receivers' coach at Wood River.

It was a foregone conclusion Frost would go to Nebraska, until he dropped the bombshell that he was going to Stanford.

Frost admits the move was a mistake, came crawling back to Lincoln, and sat out last year as a transfer.

It was worth the wait.

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