NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma's master craftsmen, roaring down the stretch toward a second straight national football championship, Saturday swept past Nebraska, 54-6.
The triumph rounded out Bud Wilkinson's tenth year as Oklahoma coach, an amazing reign during which his teams have taken the field 59 times without a loss to a Big Seven Conference rival.
A year ago, the Sooners cut the Cornhuskers, 41-0, with the dull edge of the knife.
They then used only a handful of basic split-T plays; seldom bothered to utilize the pass.
But Saturday Nebraska felt the keen edge of Wilkinson's precision instrument.
There was no end to Oklahoma's ground trickery, which produced an overwhelming 506 yards.
This was implemented by a dozen passes, of which six were completed for 150 additional yards and two touchdowns.
One must look beyond the statistics to find the true measure of defiance expressed by Pete Elliott's losers.
Yes, they were punctured for eight touchdowns.
But six of the scores were made by the No. 1 Sooner unit, an awesome aggregation that saw action in every period and didn't leave the field for good until only eight minutes remained.
Nebraska had the audacity to ram home a touchdown early int he second quarter on a pass from Gordon Englert to Clarence Cook.
It came at the expense of the Big Red regulars and goaded them into swift retaliation.
Oklahoma took the opening kick-off 78 yards in nine plays with halfback Clendon Thomas logging a 23-yard dash on the fifth play and All-America halfback Tommy McDonald blazing seven yards around his right end for the touchdown.
Only three minutes and 12 seconds had elapsed.
After Nebraska failed to muster a first down and Jim Murphy and Delbert Long each chalked up a fumble recovery, O.U. struck for No. 2.
With the ball at midfield, Carl Dodd passed to Long for 18 yards. Then Dodd broke loose on a counter, charging all the way as end Bob Timberlake scythed down a defender on the 18.
When Dodd matched Jimmy Harris's conversion, the score read 14-0. The clock showed 5:29 left in the first quarter.
Any maudlin dreaming about Wilkinson soft-pedaling the production for the benefit of ex-assistant Elliott had now disappeared.
But no one had told the Huskers they were on a suicide mission.
Billy Pricer kicked off 37 yards and fullback Jerry Brown, who turned in another bruising day of running, returned seven yards to the Nebraska 26.
It was a 74-yard touchdown challenge and quarterback Englert, a fourth-down plugger early in September, was equal to the occasion.
After a five-yard penalty and two incomplete passes, he handed off to Larry Naviaux. The Lexington, Neb., halfback streaked over right tackle for 19 yards.
Brown made a pair, Englert flipped to halfback Frank Nappi for seven and then collected 22 yards on two keepers.
Brown ripped off six yards to the 23. Englert was two inches short of a first and 10 but Brown made the vital yard. Englert again hit Nappi, this time for six.
A pass fell incomplete but Englert scooted for six and another first down on the seven.
Nappi's pass failed. Englert gained two on a keeper. It was third and goal when the senior from Sioux Falls, S.D., dropped back for another aerial.
Rushed badly, he threw at the last split second.
Cook, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from McCook, was flanked by McDonald and Thomas in the end zone.
But the Nebraskan soared high and wrapped his huge hands around the ball for a touchdown.
The challenger had spit in the champion's eye before a shocked band day crowd of 46 thousand.
And the champ didn't like it. McDonald managed to deflect Naviaux's attempted placement. The Huskers kicked off and in six breath-taking plays, Oklahoma had traveled 64 yards for its third touchdown and a 20-6 advantage.
Nebraska had the ball for only three scrimmage plays before O.U. banged over its fourth touchdown.
Steve Jennings blocked an attempted quick kick by George Harshman and recovered on the Nebraska 12.
On the first play, David Baker pitched to Dodd for the score. Dodd converted. It was 34-6 at the half, with O.U. going 60 yards in four plays.
McDonald took a pass from Harris and outran Nappi and Naviaux on the 46-yarder.
To the everlasting credit of Elliott's scrappers, no one threw in the towel even though Oklahoma had a crushing net yardage total of 319 by the intermission.
In fact, Nebraska almost shoved across a second tally as late as the fourth quarter.
Stu Howerter, junior end from Omaha, crashed through a Sooner play on the O.U. 44. He grabbed Bob Derrick's fumble and sped to the 17, where Dave Rolle caught him.
Elliott inserted his first team and Englert knocked off 10 yards after Nappi lost two. Englert made three on a sneak; cut over right tackle for two more.
Brown squeezed three ayrds out of the bunched defense. He managed only a foot on the next assault. With fourth and just a couple of feet to go, there appeared to be a backfield mixup.
Thoams came up with a fumble recovery on the two.
Oklahoma turned in three touchdowns the second half as Wilkinson employed all 55 men in suit.
Harris ran 31 yards, second-string fullback Bill Brown raced 53 and Dale Sherrod grabbed the finale on a two-yard slant.
Sherrod's thrust climaxed a drive on 97 yards that followed Nebraska's late bid.
It was an unrelenting march started by the first team and finished by the No. 3 unit.
The reserves took over after both Brown and center Bob Berguin of Nebraska had retired with leg injuries.
The Huskers even managed a futile gasp in the final minute. Dick Prusia recovered a fumble by Kenny Crossland on the U.N. 10 and Toy Stinnett passed to Bill Edwards, who stumbled and fell after galloping to the Sooner 41.
Two more Stinnett passes failed, however, and the Tennessee sophomore failed to make a first down when he ran.
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
|South Dakota||Sept. 22|
|Ohio State||Sept. 29|
|Iowa State||Oct. 6|
|Kansas State||Oct. 13|
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