The game suffered from poor attendance due to riots in the Miami area as well as the game having no impact on the national championship, since No. 2 Penn State defeated No. 1 Georgia earlier in the day in the Sugar Bowl. LSU began the season 7-0-1, but lost in November to heavy underdogs Mississippi State and Tulane to come in 8-2-1 and ranked #13 by the AP and UPI polls. Nebraska was 11-1 and ranked #3 in both polls, but they had been denied a chance to play for the national championship due to a controversial 27-24 loss at Penn State early in the season.
Nebraska forced a three and out, and then scored easily on their first possession, capped by a 5 yard touchdown run by fullback Mark Schellen to take a 7-0 lead just four minutes into the game, and the heavily favored Huskers looked as if they would put the Tigers away early. But then a series of miscues turned the game on its head.
Toby Williams intercepted a Tiger pass at the Husker 7, to thwart a promising LSU drive. But the Huskers fumbled the ball right back to LSU on the very next play from scrimmage, and Dalton Hilliard scored from the 1 to tie the game at 7.
Nebraska drove to the LSU 15 before fumbling again, then inexplicably fumbled a third time after forcing LSU to punt. Turner Gill then threw an interception. The Tigers took advantage with a second Hilliard 1-yard touchdown run, and Nebraska found itself trailing 14-7 at halftime after committing four turnovers on four consecutive series.
Halftime provided no relief for the mistake-prone Husker offense, with a missed field goal on the opening drive of the second half, followed by yet another fumble. LSU converted the latest Husker error into a 28 yard Juan Bentanzos field goal, which gave them a 17-7 lead.
On the very next series, Nebraska managed to hold onto the football and went on a 12 play, 80 yard scoring drive, capped by an 11 yard swing pass from Turner Gill to Mike Rozier which pulled the Huskers within three at 17-14.
Gill then finished off a 7 play, 47 yard drive with a QB sneak early in the fourth to put the Huskers ahead 21-17. Another miscue, this time a dropped pass on a fake field goal, prevented the Huskers from extending their lead.
LSU managed to get a 49 yard field goal from Bentanzos late following an interception (Nebraska's sixth turnover of the night), but they could not get the ball back again, and the Cornhuskers held on to win 21-20.