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The 1904 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team was an American football team that represented the University of Nebraska as an independent during the 1904 college football season. In its fifth season under head coach Walter C. Booth, the team compiled a 9-3 record and outscored opponents by a total of 339 to 52. The team played its home games at Antelope Field in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers were rolling, coming off of two dominating undefeated seasons, the first of which consisted entirely of shutout victories with no points scored against Nebraska. The nation was beginning to take serious notice of the program in Lincoln. The team was also continuing to grow, now having a roster of 30 players.
Barta, Frank G
Barwick, Leonard QB
Bell, Johnny HB
Bender, Johnny HB
Benedict, Maurice QB
Borg, Charles C
Burns, Donald RT
Cotton, Charles RT
Craig, Hugh HB
Denslow, Lloyd E
Eager, Earl HB
Hunter, Fred RG
Johnson, William E
Lundin, Alford LT
Marsh, Earl HB
Mason, Cyrus LT
Mason, John FB
McDonald, Gil QB
Mills, Leslie G
Weller, John HB
Coach Booth started out easy on Grand Island as the teams met for the second time, by not using the starters in the first half, but allowed them in afterwards. The result was a 72-0 shutout thrashing of the Grand Island squad, which was the second highest-margin of victory and total scoring in Nebraska history, behind only the 76-0 win over Hastings in 1898. Nebraska improved over Grand Island to 2-0.
It isn’t recorded whether the Nebraska starters played in this game or not, or what role the short two-day turnaround since the Grand Island game may have played, or if the Lincoln High School team was just that good, but the Cornhuskers put up only 17 points in their 7th straight win over the local high schoolers in their annual exhibition game.
A wet field created messy conditions, but on this day it didn’t seem to set back the Cornhuskers at all as they rolled up 46 points and shut out Grinnel for a 25th straight win and 6th straight shutout (counting exhibition games). Nebraska improved to 4-2 over Grinnell.
Nebraska’s long streaks of success came to an abrupt end as Colorado handed Nebraska a shutout loss of their own, the first since Wisconsin blanked the Cornhuskers 18-0 in 1901. Nebraska had three opportunities inside of the Colorado 10-yard line, but failed to capitalize, and Colorado notched their first win in the series to get on the board at 1-3 behind Nebraska.
Creighton hosted Nebraska in Omaha for the first meeting of these teams, but it was back to the Nebraska of old as the Cornhuskers once again posted a shutout victory with seemingly little effort.
In a second exhibition game for the season, the Cornhuskers defeated the Lincoln Medics in another shutout win, though the victory did not count towards the season record. This was the only time these teams would meet.
The Cornhuskers had only one day off after the defeat of the Lincoln Medics when Knox arrived for the third contest between these teams. Coach Booth’s personnel changes seemed effective in the end as the Cornhuskers put up yet another shutout victory and moved up to 3-0 against Knox.
After a one-year break, the series with recent rival Minnesota resumed in Minneapolis. The Gophers scored first, but Nebraska tied the game shortly afterwards, which was the first time that any team had scored against Minnesota during the entire season to date and back into 1903, ending their shutout streak at 12 straight. Despite the rare points put up on the Gophers, Minnesota came up with more to defeat the Cornhuskers and advance their lead in the series to 3-1.
Iowa fought a good game and scored a late touchdown to avoid the shutout, but the 17 points assembled by the Cornhuskers sent the Hawkeyes home with a loss and lagging in the series 4-6-2.
In the 4th meeting of these teams, as they played outside of Lincoln for the first time, Haskell unexpectedly upended the Cornhuskers for the first time. Nebraska’s points came only as the result of a recovered Haskell fumble in the end zone. Having now dropped three games on the season, Nebraska headed home in defeat but still owning the series edge 3-1.
Bellevue suffered the brunt of Nebraska’s wrath following the previous week’s loss to Haskell, as the Cornhuskers punched out 51 unanswered points despite having numerous starters sidelined with injuries. Nebraska’s record over Bellevue improved to 2-0, both shutout wins. This win was Nebraska’s third against significant in-state competition for the season, and with a win against the Lincoln Medics and an exhibition win against Lincoln High, the Cornhuskers recorded their fifth state championship.
For the second year in a row, the Cornhuskers faced Illinois to end the season, and once again Nebraska came away with a win, though not in as convincing fashion as may have been desired. The scoring was back and forth, with Illinois initially in the lead and later coming back within a point before the Cornhuskers put the game away.
After the record-setting 1902 and 1903 seasons, 1904 was relatively disappointing in its 7-3 finish. Nebraska’s record game-winning streak (counting exhibition games) was capped at 27 this year. Coach Booth’s overall career record at Nebraska fell to 38-6-1 (.856), while the program’s overall record fell very slightly to 79-31-5 (.709).