#8 Nebraska 21
Iowa State 12

Nov. 23, 1940 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

It Takes Huskers’ Fiercest Power Assault to Beat Cyclones, 21-12; Iowa State Rages to 12-0 Halftime


Nebraska's Butch Luther races and dodges Iowa State tacklers ... dances at finish of 57-yeard touchdown jaunt in lower photograph. E.K. Langevin / The World-Herald


Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nov. 23 — Game and inspired and alert as they usually are on the afternoons that the Cornhuskers line up against them, the boys from Ames this day surrendered only at the firing of the taps pistol.

Not in the Figures



The figures don’t hint at the Cyclones’ furious though brief first-half onslaught through brief the air and their savage alertness that sent sent them prancing into the dressing room at recess the leaders by 12-0!

The figures don’t offer the slightest suggestion of the Cornhuskers’ sudden belated awakening during the intermission, an awakening that immediately manifest itself upon the ice glared sod in one of the fiercest power assaults ever seen on this play yard.

In 12 minutes and four seconds the Huskers smashed and kicked their way to 14 points, to surpass the Cyclones’ dozen.

Lyman Thunders



Nor do the figures tell how Link Lyman’s blistering dressing room oratory combined strangely but mightily with sentiment to fire with stern realities minds that had been beguiled by palm and rose-embroidered day dreams.

As the dazed and seemingly beaten kids huddled there in the dressing room the giant line coach thundered and roared. Then suddenly his bellows ceased. His eyes grew misty as in muffled tones he said:

“Up there, on the terrace, bundled in a car, is Harry Schulte- Old Pa- he has sent word down here…”

Rest time was up. The Huskers tore ominously through the gray doors, convinced at last- and late- that Major Jones had been serious in his week-long warnings.

In Eight Minutes, 12-7



The primitive power drives of Harry Hopp and the Viscount Francis sent Hopp across with the first six points after a 70-yard march. It took eight minutes of the third period. The Viscount place kicked the seventh point, and the Huskers were five behind.

Then Senator Prochaska blocked Merle Osborne’s punt. The ball bobbled backward, as Huskers black-shirted Cyclones fell belly down and failed to capture it. Finally a Cyclone threw himself upon it on the Cyclones 16, but possession belonged to Nebraska.

Only four minutes and 40 seconds more had elapsed when the Viscount bent back the massed defenders to register with a devastating plunge the touchdown that put the Huskers one point ahead. Then the Viscount place kicked again, and it was 14-12.

But the boys from Ames never stopped. They were to continue far into the final moments the breath snatching, spine tingling aerial assault whose first fleeting exposure had produced their first six points when the game was 14½ minutes old.

The Huskers had spiked Paul Christman’s guns, but they were pretty helpless against the firing of Larry Owens. He completed eight pitches in succession. During the afternoon he completed 9 out of 12.

One of the first first was thrown diagonally, from Nebraska’s 49. A few strides from the goal End John Heggen caught it and kept sprinting. Before he made the catch he passed Roy Petsch. After he made it he couldn’t run as fast as Butch Luther. Butch tackled him in the southwest corner, a foot from the goal.

So Hank Wilder shot himself at right guard and the massed defense there yielded the points that put the Cyclones ahead, with only those 45 seconds left in the opening interval.

Paul Darling’s placement was wide, but this didn’t diminish the whoops of exultant migrants from Ames. Nor did Darling’s failure to convert the extra point after the next touchdown affect their jubilation.

Ames Blocks Punt



Again only 45 seconds were left, this time in the second period, when Hermie Rohrig, playing safe under Bus Knight’s direction, punted on fourth down from his 29 rather than risk failure at covering by a plunge the foot necessary for a first down.

Conservatism backfired expensively. As Hermie kicked, Tackle Mel Happe bore down upon him, his arms outstretched. The ball struck Happe, as Happe had hoped it would, and then it bounced on the ice filmed grass.

On a bounce Merle Osborne caught it and ran unhindered until the goal was a stride ahead. There Allen Zikmund dived from behind, caught Osborne low- and was dragged across.

Darling’s failure to kick held the total at 12, but the Huskers had none.

Petsch Runs at Start



The Huskers had never threatened. The often inspiring feat of a long runback of the opening kickoff hadn’t imbued them with fire and determination. Roy Petsch had raced upfield 47 yards against the north wind with Darling’s inaugural boot. On the Cyclones’ 48 Owens had dragged him down from behind, and three plays later Hopp has been forced to punt. There were no leaks in the Cyclone defense.

Those 12 points looked big enough at intermission. Darling’s failure went almost unremarked. But as already chronicled Darling’s failures loomed large though not unsurmountable after 12 minutes and 20 seconds of that third quarter.

Cyclones Fight Back



The Huskers’ awakening presented them as a different team- the sort of that had downed Pittsburgh and Oklahoma, and trampled Missouri. In a way, it was one of those two-games-in-one again, but not markedly, because after the Nebraskans’ two marches and conversions that put them ahead the Cyclones took command again. Indeed, the Cyclones never quit. That fact merits repetition.

The two-point margin achieved by the Viscount’s two perfect placements looked dangerously small early in the last quarter.

For the home folks the change seemingly safe though slight leadership came swiftly. The Huskers appeared to be driving irresistibly again. The Cyclones could find no defense for the crashing slants and high-geared sweeps of Hopp and the straight-ahead superhuman plunging of the Viscount.

Pass Misdirected



The Huskers appeared to be bound of their third touchdown. On first down Francis boomed nine yards through center to the Iowans’ 32. Second and one. Roy Petsch called for a pass. Hopp threw- to the ubiquitous, bothersome, brilliant Owens. Owens was downed with the interception on his 29. Of course, had the pass found its receiver, it would have been a Napoleonic play! But-

Ten plays later the Cyclones were on the Huskers’ 12! Owens’ fine throwing to End Jean Lange and Wilders’ laterals to Owens had covered most of the distance.

From the 12 Wilder tried to skirt right end. Hopp chased him back five yards and dumped him. Owens dropped back to his 25, knelt and teed the ball, Darling kicked it. The ball soared wide. But the Huskers were scared. The Huskers put on the pressure again.

At Last a Reverse



Throughout the afternoon they had had small success with reverses. Fine scouting seemed to have stifled them. Time and again Butch Luther had made nothing or little.

But Petsch tried a reverse again. He tried it again from his own 42, when about three minutes remained.

The Butcher streaked for the east sideline. He ran parallel with it until his interference had formed.

The blockers scythed down the converging would-be tacklers. Then, from near midfield the Butcher set off alone. Diagonal was his course, and the effect was a sort of one-man reverse, for so sudden was his movement that the Cyclones were left far behind.

57-or 114 Yards



Those who pursued didn’t menace as the Butcher sprinted the last of the 57 yards between the scrimmage line and the goal. To cover them he probably raced and dodged and danced twice that distance.

Again the Viscount placekicked- without even looking up- and then, when only 3 minutes and 2 seconds were left, was it pretty certain Nebraska would win.

But the score wasn’t certain until the finish, for Owens resumed his passing. Desperation, though, had robbed it of much of its deadliness. From spread formation, the throws didn’t connect. But the throw menaced. They menaced until Owens was forced to punt and the Huskers took possession on their 40 with time left for only two plays.

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)


Series history

Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.

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 23 games on Nov. 23. See them all »

©2018 BH Media Group