LINCOLN — Nebraska mixed brilliant and ragged football Saturday while overcoming the bitter resistance of Oklahoma State, 27 to 14, and pulling to within one victory of a perfect season.
A record crowd of 49,500, including representatives of the Orange, Sugar and Cotton Bowls, watched the Huskers raise their season record to 9-0, the gaudiest string since the 1903 team won 11 in a row.
A Nebraska spokesman said no bowl offers have been made, “but talks are continuing with representatives of the Sugar and Cotton Bowls.”
The Huskers need a victory at Oklahoma U. this week to wrap up their second consecutive Big Eight Championship. With the once-beaten Sooners being held to a tie by Missouri Saturday, the only surviving title challenger is Kansas.
Should Oklahoma upset N.U. and Kansas turn back Missouri, the Huskers and Jayhawks would share the crown with 6-1 records.
The clinching points against Oklahoma State were not registered until Mike Kennedy intercepted a pass and Kent McCloughan galloped four yards around end with five seconds remaining.
Kennedy later saluted the pesky Cowpokes as “the toughest team this year and last year.”
Nebraska had opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 92-yad march, perhaps its most impressive drive of the year. That counter also was supplied by McCloughan, who hiked his touchdown total to 12 and point collection to 74 as several hundred rooters from Broken Bow celebrated his “day.”
The other Scarlet touchdowns came on an 89-yard kick-off return by heroic Frank Solich and an all-rookie, 34-yard pass play, with Quarterback Bob Churchich throwing to Halfback Harry Wilson.
Solich who also pranced for 69 yards rushing was voted the winners’ outstanding back. He had excellent company, with Bob Hohn hammering for 85 yards, McCloughan adding 52 and young Churchich delivering six of eight passes for 86 yards.
Balloting for the top lineman performance was split between Larry Kramer, who saw action both on offense and defense this record-hot, 70-degree afternoon, and passing-catching End Tony Jeter.
Oklahoma State took advantage of some of the Husker s’ erratic play to drive in for both of its touchdowns.
The opening thrust apparently was stalled when a fourth-down punt was forced in the starting sequence. However, Nebraska was caught on illegal use of the hand — so the Cowpokes kept possession and carried out a march of 67 yards.
The losers’ other score followed Leon Ward’s pass interception and a ground-pounding exercise of 56 yards.
Oklahoma State totaled 154 yards rushing, a season high against the N.U. Black Shirts. The previous topper was Minnesota’s 150.
A huge share of the OSU load was toted by Fullback Walt Garrison, who hacked out 112 paces on 26 attempts.
Nebraska’s long trip in the first period was a marvel of precision blocking, power running — and a couple of Churchich passes to Jeter and McCloughan.
Only once did a fourth-down predicament arise.
That came on the Oklahoma State 24 and Nebraska needing five yards. As Wilson, Jeter and Center Lyle Sittler helped open the door, Solich sped through the middle to the 16.
Three plays later, Hohn shot through the right side for six and a first down on the five. As usual, Cowpokes such as Charley Harper, Ward, Jack Jacobson and Ron Alexander were playing mighty tough.
Offside eagerness cost the defenders 2 1/2 yards, but even then it took one knock by Hohn and two by McCloughan to get into the end zone.
Kent had only a foot or two to make as he crossed through his right side with timely blocks by Jeter, Hohn and Churchich. The seventh point came from the foot of Duncan Drum.
Four minutes and nine seconds later, it was a tie game as Charles Durkee capped Baxter’s one-yard plunge with a placement.
The nation’s fourth-ranked team, trying to expand the country’s longest streak to 16 games, did no moping.
Solich took the ensuing kick-off on his 11 and headed up the middle with a phalanx of blockers forming.
As blocks were thrown and bodies fell, slick Frank turned on the after burners. He pulled away from the main pack and gradually angled to his right as he passed midfield.
Jacobson and Alexander maintained pursuit. McCloughan, meanwhile, became an added entry in this derby. He caught up with Jacobson, who posed the closest threat, the surged for a legal blocking angle.
McCloughan hurled himself at Jacobson, dropping the 196-pound wingman just outside the end zone as Solich sped in untouched.
A remarkable athlete, Jacobson still had enough wind and grit to storm in and block Drum’s extra-point kick.
With 6:52 in the first half, Nebraska took the ball away from the enemy on the N.U. 26 when End Bill Haug and Middle Guard Tuffy Barnes checked Baxter’s fourth-down plunge.
Passes for Churchich to Jeter for 10 and eight yards were key gainers as Nebraska swept to the OSU 29. Illegal motion then brought a five-yard setback.
When Churchich next retreated to pass, he was quickly confronted by three or four crashing defenders. He darted out of their path, however, and arched the ball to Wilson.
Harry the Hipster eluded Ward and Larry Elliot with sharp maneuvering and, once inside the 20, got guarantee blocks from Hohn and Freeman White.
Two points were added to his six on a Churchich-Jeter end-zone flip.
The half-time score held at 21 to 7.
Ward’s pass theft, Garrison’s touchdown plunge and another Durkee kick late in the third quarter again drew OSU to within seven points and fully revived the crowd’s interest.
Nebraska almost succeeded with one of its patented comeback sorties, but lost the ball after a 66-yard advance to the Cowboy 14. Alexander’s recovery of a Churchich fumble was the stopper.
An edge of tension remained until Kennedy put the Huskers in business on the OSU 18, and McCloughan subsequently swept right end from the four.
As prime targets in the Big Eight, the Huskers have been taking severe physical punishment for more than a month. But they are rugged and resourceful — and plainly hungry for that perfect record.
Ticket Manager Jim Pittenger said at least 53 hundred Nebraskans will be on hand for the vital conference chapter Saturday at Norman, Okla.
|Yards per carry||3.5||4.4|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.
|South Dakota||Sept. 19|
|Iowa State||Oct. 3|
|South Carolina||Oct. 10|
|Kansas State||Oct. 17|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 14|
Nebraska has played 18 games on Nov. 14. See them all »