Nebraska 53
Kansas 2

Oct. 19, 1940

Huskers, New and Old, Smash Kansas for Record 53-to-2 Verdict


Shown just as he fell into the end zone for Nebraska's second touchdown is husky Wayne Blue. It was the first play of the second quarter and followed on the heels of Hopp's 40-yard run. JOHN SAVAGE/THE WORLD-HERALD


’Nebraska So Mighty or K.U. So Bad?’ 14,000 Fans Ask

LAWRENCE, Kan. — With power as simple and irresistible and crushing as an avalanche, the Cornhuskers this afternoon obliterated their most ancient rivals by the most overwhelming score in 47 meetings.

Nebraska 53, Kansas 2.

You are invited to consult the play-by-play narrative on Page 7B if you desire the details.

When reduced to minute degrees, the details varied, but only under the microscope is it possible to detect much difference in the conduct of the 35 players that Maj. Jones sent on to the browning Bermuda field while 14 thousand looked on and wondered.

Go Busting Through

When their side had the ball the varied combinations of linemen just cracked wide holes and the backs went busting through.

The big backs, built for power, and the lighter backs, designed for speed, veteran backs and backs who never entered battle before, they just went busting through.

The battered, courageous Jayhawk secondary men bounced off the big backs and the lighter backs, and bounced again as the soles of their pants met the autumn-tinted turf.

Sometimes by ganging up with each other and with lineman who had not been knocked ground-level, they managed to pull the devastating Huskers down, but this success was pitifully infrequent.

Eight times they failed. Eight times the Huskers crossed their goal, the first when the game was eight minutes old, the last when two seconds remained.

Smash at Guards

All this the Huskers did with football’s kindergarten stuff, and doing so they battered and smashed the main sources of strength in a Kansas team that many had to reckon as surprisingly stout.

The Huskers did little ball handling. Usually the man who was to carry took the snapback from center and shot himself ahead, at the guards, at Quido Massare and Jay Kern, Gwinn Henry’s mightiest.

Inside and outside of the guards, straight ahead or slightly slanting, the Huskers plunged and ran, sometimes behind armor-tight shields of blockers, sometimes almost alone.

None Can Be Stopped

They couldn’t be stopped. There was no more success at stopping the fresh-faced, iron-hard youngster Wayne Blue, than there was at stopping the blasting, dodging, twisting veterans Vike Francis and Harry Hopp.

There was no checking of Dale Bradley and Allen Zikmund and Jack Vincent and Don Rubottom and Ken Simmons, any more than there was of checking such old hands at Butch Luther and Cowboy Petsch and Bus Knight and Hank Rohn and Bob Kahler.

It was the same in the line, where Gerry Kathol and Marvin Thompson and others relieved Senator Prochaska and Fred Preston at the ends, and Ralph Whitehead and Lynn Myers and their fellow beginners spelled and incomparable Warren Alfson and Ed Schwartzkopf at the guards, and Vic Schleich and Francis Leik and other sophomores replaced Len Muskin and Kong Kahler and Forrest Behm at the tackles.

Rohrig on Bench

In and out of the lineup the Huskers moved in frequent parade, and the lineup rolled on and on. Biff used 35 players, all that conference rules permit, but the change of tempo was scarcely noticeable.

It’s perhaps just as well Herman Rohrig didn’t play. The bruised rubber man, clad in slacks and polo shirt, looked on from the bench.

Three By Blue

The sophomore Blue made three of the eight touchdowns. The Viscount made one, and had two terrific long distance charges, that presented him in the role of combined blaster and eel-hipped halfback, called back for the infliction of penalties.

The other touchdowns were distributed, one each, among Hopp, Petsch, Bradley and Rohn.

Some of the scores capped drives that Kansas couldn’t stop. The Huskers just took the ball and went booming down field.

Two Blocked Punts

Two were the product of blocked punts, and the blocking caused the dazed and baffled Gwinn Henry great concern. He didn’t know that Biff had worked his kids long and painstakingly on the maneuver. It was Schwartzkopf’s body-blocking of Ed Suagee’s kick and Behm’s swift possession of the bobbling ball that netted the first score. Behm took property rights on the Jayhawk eight. The Viscount ripped across.

Just before the third period ended Alfson blocked Don Pollom’s kick and Prochaska snatched the ball and ran to the Jayhawk 11. A mingling of second and third string boys took over as the teams changed goals and Blue crashed across soon after the final interval began.

Touchdown by Fumble

The swiftest capitalization came when Pollom fumbled three paces ahead of his goal, the ball rolled into the end zone and Petsch covered it like a hen in whom the maternal instinct is strong.

Yes, Kansas made two points. They came in the third quarter when Freddy Meier’s snapback shot low and wide past Harry Hopp, and Hopp, trying to retrieve it, cut back into the end zone where Paul Hardman and Ross Ralph grounded him. The Huskers had 20 points at the time.

Few were Nebraska’s passes. They weren’t necessary. Few were Kansas’ passes that clicked. Only in the final period did Marvin Vandaveer make connections then nothing came of them.

Few K.U. Threats

The Huskers set about forthwith the job of shoving the Jayhawks back into their own domain, and they made swift work of it.

Only for this fleeting time, and for an even briefer spell in the third period, did Kansas own the ball on the encouraging side of midfield. Swift Pollom bothered the Nebraskans for a play or two early in the second half. But they stopped Pollom just as they had stopped the passing.

Yes, the 14 thousand wondered, first, is Nebraska that mighty, and second, can Kansas be that bad?

Gwinn Henry wasn’t speaking for Nebraska, but he was confident his boys were better — much better — than the score indicates.

Mighty — How Mighty?

Major Jones wondered along with the customers. What will the effect of such a tremendous margin be? Did his boys beat a tough team so astoundingly? The Major had reckoned the Kansans a tough team. Or did his boys manhandle an ineffective crew, and doing so, get the notion that they’re mightier than they are? At any rate, it was the biggest margin in a rivalry that began in 1892, and not since 1896 have the Jayhawkers whupped the Huskers at Lawrence-on-the-Kaw.

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)


Series history

Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.

See all games »


1940 season (8-2)

Minnesota Oct. 5
Indiana Oct. 12
Kansas Oct. 19
Missouri Oct. 26
Oklahoma Nov. 2
Iowa Nov. 9
Pittsburgh Nov. 16
Iowa State Nov. 23
Kansas State Nov. 30
Stanford Jan. 1

This day in history

Nebraska has played 15 games on Oct. 19. See them all »

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