LINCOLN — Nebraska struck fast and early Saturday to end Colorado's three-year football domination of the Huskers.
The Cornhuskers whipped the Buffaloes with two touchdowns in the first 13 minutes, 14-12.
Then the Scarlet beat down a polished C.U. aerial offensive which until the closing seconds threatened to turn defeat into victory.
The victory, second of the year in the Big Eight, assured Nebraska of its best conference season in three years.
The defeat blocked the Orange Bowl trail for Colorado, leaving the Miami ticket up for grabs between Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa State. Nebraska's slender chance went out the window when Kansas State failed to upset Missouri.
A pass interception by Don Fricke and a spectacular run by Carroll Zaruba sent the Huskers on their way before the shivering crowd of 26 thousand.
Fricke picked off a Gale Weidner pitch and raced 62 yards to the first touchdown. The clock showed 2:45 played when the fullback dug his cleats into the snow-crusted end zone.
There was only 12:39 gone when Pappy Zaruba, sprung on a counter play, shouldered through the left side of the Colorado forward wall and raced 73 yards for the second Nebraska tally.
The scoring jaunts were achieved with a minimum of opposition.
Fricke got his start when he picked off a pass evidently intended for C.U. end Bill Elkins. Don made the grab on the N.U. 38 and hustled down the sidelines. Passer Weidner made a feeble stab at him on the Colorado 10, otherwise the junior was free all the way.
Zaruba's 73-yard ramble came unexpectedly. Working on a third-and-three situation from the Nebraska 27, Pappy saw daylight and kept going.
Zaruba outran the pack, crossing the goal line as Pat Fischer cut down the leading pursuer.
The reliable Ron Meade kicked both conversions.
These place-kicks into a 10-mile breeze proved all-important when C.U., relying on Weidner's arm, blew both attempts at pass conversions.
After Fricke's touchdown interception had placed Colorado in a hole early, the Buffs made two tries at picking up the slack.
Harry Tolly's short punt opened the gates to the first Colorado touchdown shortly after Nebraska scored.
The kick into the wind took a Colorado bounce back to the Nebraska 37, only 18 yards from where the Huskers had decided to yield possession.
On the third play, the Buffs sprung halfback Jerry Steffen for a 24-yard gain to the Nebraska six.
The Buff ball-carrier was into the Nebraska secondary before the Huskers woke up. Halfback Clay White finally made the stop.
Steffen faked while fullback Chuck Weiss smashed to the Nebraska two on the next play.
Steffen got the score on the second punch.
When Jerry, a World-Herald All-State eight-man selection from Crofton, Neb., scored, it gave all three touchdowns in the first quarter to native Nebraskans. Fricke of Hastings and Zaruba of Fullerton got the Husker tallies.
Behind one point, Colorado elected to gamble for the lead by calling on Weidner's arm.
The throw into the end zone was wide with fullback Weiss sprawling in a futile effort to make the catch.
Behind, 14-6, going into the second half, Colorado lost no time calling on sophomore whiz Weidner.
Working from a formation reminiscent of Potsy Clark's North Platte spread, the air-minded Buffaloes dealt the Huskers fits.
With the Nebraska forwards unable to penetrate the C.U. shield, Weidner roamed the gridiron with ample time to spot his receivers.
While the Husker secondary was chasing shadows, the Buffaloes moved from the C.U. 36 to the Nebraska 12 by the end of the third quarter.
During this surge, Weidner hit the target on six of 10 tries.
Colorado switched to the ground at the start of the final period and needed only three plays to ear up the distance.
These were two slants by halfback Dave Riel and a two-yard scoring sneak by Weidner.
Behind, 14-12, the two-point conversion attempt was automatic and the Huskers loaded the secondary umbrella.
The pitch was to end Gary Henson and three Huskers converged. White got credit for the stymie.
There was only a minute played in the fourth quarter when C.U. got its second touchdown.
The remainder of the afternoon, Nebraska tried to run out the clock and Colorado tried to score.
None of the customers left as the Huskers twice clamped the brakes on Colorado drives.
The first C.U. threat carried 36 yards, only to end when Nebraska tackle George Haney up-ended C.U. sub fullback Teddy Woods on a fourth-down plunge.
Woods was downed on the Nebraska 44 with 10 minutes remaining.
Grinding out yards with dive bucks and an occasional sweep, the Scarlet used more than seven minutes before yielding possession on the Colorado 25.
The big moment on this march came with 4:45 left when Dallas Dyer got an important first down by inches with a fourth-down dive buck.
This may have been the game saver. It allowed the Huskers to shove the clock around to 2:45 before C.U. took charge again.
Starting from their 25, the Buffs moved 49 yards in six plays. Two running plays got 13 and four Weidner passes did the rest.
There was 1:10 remaining when the Buffs arrived at the Nebraska 26.
Passes to Henson and Chuck McBride failed when the Huskers swarmed the receivers. A third pitch went out of bounds.
The Buffs took time out but, lacking a field goal specialist, had to go for the fourth-down pass.
The play was a toss in the flat to Weiss, the swing man.
As Husker linemen led by center Jim Moore and Fricke put the pressure on Weidner, the left flankers converged on Weiss as the pitch, short and wide, hit the turf.
Nebraska took over and used two plays to run out the clock.
Weidner, who completed 16 of 37 pass attempts for 189 yards, also gave the Nebraska faithful anxious moments just before intermission.
His arm swept the Buffs 69 yards from the Colorado 25 to the Nebraska six in four plays.
The last effort was a 43-yard pitch to Henson. Nebraska had substituted to load the secondary with five backfield men and played it safe by letting the C.U. end make the catch and downing him on the six as the gun popped.
Never behind, Nebraska was content to play a conservative waiting game.
When the Huskers did gamble their efforts went haywire.
The first bobble came in the opening minutes when Fischer, under the center in the quarterback role as a surprise maneuver, fumbled and Elkins recovered.
This was the third play of the game. It proved a blessing in disguise because three plays later Fricke pirated Weidner's second pass and scored.
The Zaruba touchdown was just as shocking to C.U. as the Fricke dash.
Zaruba, shifted to fullback when Noel Martin was unable to go, scored on the third play after the Colorado touchdown.
Late in the third quarter when Nebraska was trying for an insurance touchdown, the Huskers saw a drive fade on the C.U. 38 when Toly passed into the arms of Colorado's Rife.
Early in the second period Nebraska, ahead by 14-6, had a 27-yard Zaruba run to the C.U. 38 nullified by offside.
Colorado also had its bad moments.
Rife missed by a foot on a fourth-down plunge to the Nebraska 19 in the second quarter. Steffen fumbled away the ball on the Husker 32 in the second period.
Nebraska closes at Kansas State next Saturday. Colorado has an open date, then entertains Air Force the following week.
Nebraska is 49-18 all-time against Colorado.
|Oregon State||Oct. 3|
|Iowa State||Nov. 7|
|Kansas State||Nov. 21|
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