#5 Oklahoma 34
Nebraska 13

Nov. 22, 1952 • Owen Field, Norman, Okla.

Slick Crowder Leads 34-13 Oklahoma Win

Over 'em and through 'em. That's the Husker recipe ... as Bordogna tosses over the Sooners and Smith runs through them on a 15-yard gain. JOHN SAVAGE/THE WORLD-HERALD

Owen Field, Norman, Okla. – Eddie Crowder’s perfect quarterbacking led Oklahoma to a 34-13 victory over Nebraska Saturday afternoon to give the Sooners their fifth-straight Big Seven crown.

The 41 thousand homecoming fans who sat through a light drizzle agreed it was one of the greatest exhibitions ever put on by the master of the split-T attack.

Crowder wrecked the once-mighty Husker defense with a deceptive blend of handoffs, laterals, forward passes and keeper plays.

His timing was so perfect on his pet option plays that the Huskers never could tell until the last second whether he was going to flip the ball or keep it. And they couldn’t stop either.

Reynolds Stays on Bench

Eddie’s magic carried Oklahoma to an amazing net gain of 481 yards – 349 on rushing plays and 132 on forward passes.

The only consolation the Huskers had was that they kept the champions from matching their previous scoring average of 40 points.

But the winning margin was exactly the 21 points that most of the experts had figured.

More disappointing than the loss to Nebraska followers was the fact that Bob Reynolds had to spend his last college game on the bench.

Pulled Muscle Friday

Misfortune again struck the All-America back of two years ago.

He pulled a leg muscle during a brief warmup Friday before the squad boarded its plane for Oklahoma.

The leg was so swollen and sore at game time that Reynolds could only hobble. He suited up. But Coach Bill Glassford wisely decided not to risk him in action.

So Reynolds sat silently on the bench and watched Sophomores Jim Cederdahl and Bill Thayer divide time at his left halfback post.

Blocking Sharp

Despite the defeat and the absence of Reynolds, the Husker attack clicked better than at any time during the season.

Twice the Huskers made 70-yard scoring drives. And they were way down on the Sooner seven-yard line when the game ended – just as a frantic fourth-down pass failed.

The blocking was sharp and the marches didn’t bog down.

The only trouble was that Nebraska didn’t get the ball very often. Most of the time Oklahoma had possession and was rolling down the field.

Three Quick Tallies

Coach Bud Wilkinson’s precise machine, in fact, wrecked all chances of an upset by striking for 20 points in the first quarter.

Each time the Sooners got the ball in this first period they calmly and expertly paraded down the field for touchdowns.

Billy Vessels scored the first of his three touchdowns after five minutes of play on a five-yard thrust.
Three and a half minutes later Merrill Green went the last five on a lateral from Crowder to make it 13-0.

Cifra Breaks Loose

And with just one minute left in the opening period Vessels rammed over from the one-yard line to make it 20-0.

The Huskers didn’t let that big lead discourage them and came roaring back to dominate the second quarter.

They held the Sooners scoreless that period and got six points themselves on a 70-yard drive.

George Cifra ran 22 yards for the longest gain of the march and Johnny Bordogna ran 13 to the eight-yard line after faking a pass.

Smith Goes Over

Finally, on a fourth-down play, Bob Smith fell in behind a wave of blockers and ran the last six yards around the Oklahoma right end for the touchdown.

After the intermission Oklahoma roared right back for two more touchdowns.

Crowder kept mixing up plays with Vessels, Buck McPhail and Green taking handoffs or pitchouts until McPhail took a lateral from Vessels and went the last eight yards.

Vessels’ best run of the day netted his third touchdown a few minutes later.

Rolston Alert

He fielded a pitchout from Crowder, ran into a wave of would-be tacklers, made a complete pivot and pulled away from the pack for a 26-yard scoring run.

Before that third period was completed, the Huskers had started another all-the-way drive.

Ray Novak’s 34-yard scamper carried to the Sooner 30, and Bordogna made it first down on the 19 with two carries.

The alertness of Dierks Rolston paid off for the second Husker touchdown.

Huskers Finish Third

Smith fumbled when tackled. But Rolston picked up the ball on the 14-yard line and sprinted for six points.

The rest of the time the Huskers kept the Sooners from scoring, although the Oklahoma first-stringers stayed in action until the last few minutes.

The loss left Nebraska with a 5-4-1 record for the season, and a 3-2-1 mark in Big Seven play. This was good enough for third place, thanks to Missouri’s Saturday win over Kansas.

Coach Glassford was pleased over the fact his boys had played the Sooners on even terms after that fatal first quarter.

Reynolds Made Decision

“I’m proud of the way our boys came back after being behind by 20-0,” Bill said.

“They played good football the rest of the way and it’s no little feat to play this great Oklahoma team even for three quarters.”

Glassford explained after the game that he left the Reynolds decision up to Bob himself.

Just before the opening kickoff, Glassford huddled with Reynolds. Asked if he felt he could play, Reynolds replied:

“Gee, coach, I just can’t dig in. I have no drive on that leg. The team will be better off today without me.”

Rankin Sees Action

So he sat out his last game – while seven other seniors ended their careers on the field.

Duane Rankin replaced Bordogna to direct the Husker attack for a few minutes in the fourth quarter. It was the first time he had been in action since the South Dakota opener.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.

See all games »

1952 season (5-4-1)

South Dakota Sept. 20
Oregon Sept. 27
Iowa State Oct. 4
Kansas State Oct. 11
Penn State Oct. 18
Colorado Oct. 25
Missouri Nov. 1
Kansas Nov. 8
Minnesota Nov. 15
Oklahoma Nov. 22

This day in history

Nebraska has played 14 games on Nov. 22. See them all »

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