2000 Fiesta Bowl
Nebraska 31, Tennessee 21
Offensive Player of the Game: Eric Crouch, Nebraska
Defensive Player of the Game: Mike Brown, Nebraska
Sportsmanship Award: Tee Martin, Tennessee
Head Coaches: Frank Solich, Nebraska - Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee
Weather: Clear, cold
Payout Per Team: $10,000,000
Too much speed, too much strength, just too much Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers ran the football up and down the field, finishing with 321 yards on the ground, to power their way past Tennessee 31-21 in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl.
The game was billed as the “Return of Champions” as Nebraska and Tennessee had each won the national championship in their most recent trip to the Fiesta Bowl – the Huskers in 1996 and the Vols in 1999. This time, however, it was Nebraska that dominated the game and probably earned the title of college football’s best team of the 90’s.
The relentless option attack of Nebraska, led by quarterback Eric Crouch and I-back Dan Alexander, simply overpowered the Volunteer defense. The Cornhuskers had second-half touchdown drives of 96 and 99 yards and finished the game with 23 consecutive rushing plays for 156 yards.
Crouch, who was named the offensive player of the game, rushed for 64 yards and was 9-of-15 for 148 yards and a touchdown through the air. Alexander rushed for 108 yards on 21 carries, while Willie Miller added 87 yards on eight carries.
The Volunteers didn’t go down without a fight. After falling behind 17-0, Tennessee cut the deficit to 17-14 early in the second half behind the passing of Tee Martin. The senior quarterback threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Donte’ Stallworth with 18 seconds left in the first half and Travis Henry scored on a 4-yard run five plays into the second half.
After the second Tennessee touchdown, Nebraska went back to its customary smash-mouth football. Crouch threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Aaron Golliday to cap a 96-yard drive, making the lead 24-14. Tennessee pinned the Huskers at their one on their next possession, but Nebraska went 99 yards in 10 plays, all on the ground, with Correll Buckhalter scoring on a two-yard run to put the game out of reach.