MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.— Thanks to some neighborly gestures by Minnesota Coach George Hauser, Nebraska’s green football team wasn’t beaten Saturday by quite as large a margin as in last year’s opener.
This time it was 39-0, compared to last year’s 54-0.
But actually this game was more uneven than the 1943 runaway. The Gophers rolled up a 33-0 lead in the first half, then graciously held the score down by using third and fourth stringers and often punting on first or second downs.
Here’s the most convincing proof of how hopelessly outclassed were Coach Adolph Lewandowski’s young freshmen. They made just one first down by rushing or passing and that came with only eight minutes left in the last quarter.
The starting Gopher line from tackle to tackle simply was too rugged and too experienced for the untested Husker kids.
Old hands like Bob Lomie, Bob Graiziger, Rube Juster, Tom Reinhardt and Bill Aldworth opened wide holes for frisky backfield mates, and on defense spent most of their time in the Husker backfield.
That’s why Nebraska had a total yardage gain of only 37 yards—19 on two completed passes and 18 by rushing.
The Gophers ran simple running plays, and never once tried a pass. They didn’t need much of a pass defense, because most of the time Husker Passer Jack Selzer was rushed so terrifically that he couldn’t pitch the ball anywhere near his intended receivers.
Most of the four interceptions by Gopher backs were made easy because Selzer was hurried.
Three of the Husker linemen did get in some creditable licks. Guard Frank Hazard, center Keith Doyle and tackle Fred Lorenz were tackling hard and true for the most part.
The game was only eight minutes old when the Gophers first scored after Red Williams had gained consistently. Matt Sutton flipped a lateral to Herb Braun and the 165-pounder raced wide into the end zone, with no Husker getting a hand on him. This scoring effort covered 10 yards.
A couple of minutes later the Gophers scored again, after Bill Betz fumbled on the kickoff return and big end Tom Wainwright fell on the ball on the Husker 28-yard line. It took just four plays to score, Brown going five yards, Lundquist 12 and Sutton six and five.
The second period saw some freshman backs take over and provide the game’s only thrills for the crowd of 21,876.
Matthew “Mutzy” Nolan, a hard-running 170-pounder, slipped through on a quick opening play from his own 45-yard line, and bowled over a half dozen Nebraska boys who reached for him during a wild 55-yard dash. That was the games longest run — and its only real thrill.
Before the period was over, Phil McManus broke off tackle and cut back for a 49-yard scoring scamper.k That was with three minutes left in the half.
And with one minute and four seconds left, Hudson Mealy drove over center and kept going straight ahead for the last 16 yards, a couple of plays after Dick Van Dusen had intercepted a Selzer pass and carried to the 24.
The Gophers seemed well satisfied with that 33-0 lead and didn’t make any attempt to pour it on in the last half. The only other score came just before the third period ended, Sutton going the last six yards untouched.
On most other occasions the host team would try a simple line plunge or two and then punt. A couple of times they kicked on first down.
But when they got the ball the Nebraskans failed to go any place with it.
The lone earned first down was contributed by Selzer, the Scottsbluff youngster, who darted through a quick-opening hole over Hazard’s position for 12 yards.
The new Huskers learned a lot in this game, and they can be expected to become more assertive later against Big Six playmates.
One nice thing is that they don’t have to play next Saturday.
Nebraska is 25-32 all-time against Minnesota.
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