Memorial Stadium, Lincoln—For 13 minutes Saturday, Nebraska’s Cornhuskers looked like they were going to duplicate the previous week’s rout of Kansas.
The two touchdowns they mustered in that span, however, accounted for all the scoring as Nebraska defeated Oklahoma State, 14-0.
Nebraska thus kept alive its chances for a share of the Big Eight title and an Orange Bowl invitation. Nebraska will invade Oklahoma Saturday, needing a victory to capture a share of the conference crown.
A crowd of 33 thousand sat in near-freezing weather to see the Cornhuskers slog it out on a soggy field sprinkled with sawdust and fanned by a state-owned helicopter an hour before game time.
Next week end the Cornhuskers will have a chance to make their record 9-1.
This would be the Nebraska’s best season since the 1915 “Stiemrollers” went unbeaten.
The Huskers scored the first two times they got the ball. They paraded 76 yards to the first touchdown and 62 to the second.
Then the Nebraska machine went out of gear every time the goal line was near. The Huskers saw six bids fade deep in O.S. territory.
Three of these threats bogged down because Nebraska backs, including the usually reliable Thunder Thornton, couldn’t make a first down when only a yard was needed.
One was stymied by a fumble, one by a pass interception and another by a ruling that had N.U. Coach Bob Devaney bouncing onto the playing field just before halftime.
This roundly-booed call concerned a 14-yard pass attempt by Dennis Claridge on next-to-the-last play of the first half.
It was a perfect pitch which End Dick Callahan, racing into the middle, appeared to catch two yards from the goal. He charged into the end zone as the ball rolled from his grasp.
The officials ruled Callahan never had control, a statement the South Dakota junior plainly showed he doubted while the Bronx cheers showered the officials.
This weird ending on the second quarter set the pace for a game that saw Oklahoma State, two touchdowns behind, trying to parlay a stubborn defense and lackluster offense into an upset.
The last two years Coach Cliff Speegle’s Cowboys were able to make this strategy pay such juicy dividends that the Cowboys went into the Saturday game ahead in the series, two victories to none.
But the 1962 Huskers are a different breed of footballers and they proved that to O.S. with authority during a torrid first quarter.
Thornton, returning to full duty but as usual finding it difficult to negotiate slippery sod, set the early pace by taking Dave Hannah’s with-the-wind kick-off deep in the end zone and hurrying to the Husker 24.
In a little over eight minutes the Scarlet moved across the goal line without ever having to negotiate a fourth-down challenge.
Thornton, Warren Powers and Claridge fired this drive, Thunder smashing over from the eight. He crashed Cowpoke Fullback Bill McFarland at the goal line.
Claridge worked the keeper for the two-point conversion and the Huskers, at 8-0, were in the identical spot they were at Kansas a week earlier.
When Oklahoma State’s highly-touted aerial attack flopped, specialist Hannah hustled off the bench for a punt which Rudy Johnson returned 12 to the Nebraska 38.
Whereas the first scoring drive used up 15 plays, Nebraska’s Claridge handled the ball on only seven plays for the second touchdown drive.
A roughing-the-kicker (Jim Baffico) penalty kept the drive alive, and a pass to Callahan for 29 yards and a first down on the O.S. 11 provided the big bite.
Claridge’s pass to Callahan was the result of some nifty faking by Dennis and his teammates.
The second touchdown play had the Cowpokes more mystified.
Claridge held onto the ball while Backs Willie Ross, Gene Young and Johnson Faked in all directions.
Whirling to the weak side, Claridge strode into the end zone unmolested.
Ross’s missing the conversion pass, which snapped the Husker string at six straight two-pointers, didn’t seem serious to the partisans who sat back prepared to see a duplication of the 40-16 Kansas stampede.
The Oklahoma State answer was to shift its defense. The Cowpokes, who were suckers for traps in the early minutes, refused to take the bait thereafter.
Sealing the middle, the Stillwater collegians let the flanks and air lanes go and it was over these routes Nebraska kept the play in the O.S. sector.
Nebraska’s command was so firm the Huskers had the ball for 85 plays compared to the meager 37 allowed the ‘Pokes.
The Cowpokes attack was so weak that only once did it penetrate Nebraska territory.
This single thrust came with 2:45 left in the third quarter when Don Derrick, about all the visitors had to offer as a rusher, broke loose on a 22-yard run past midfield.
This attack wound up at N.U. 35 when Husker Guard Bob Brown dumped Don Karns on the cold, wet sod after the latter had grabbed a pass for a three-yard gain—nine yards short of a first down.
While the Huskers were holding O.S. to a meager 96 yards and four first downs on the ground, they also were smothering the ballyhoed Cowpoke aerial attack.
Mike Miller, the Big Eight’s leading passer, connected for only 31 yards and one first down on four of 12 tries.
The Nebraska secondary picked off two of his aerials while their teammates up front were giving the O.S. whiz a big rush.
Husker success in refusing their foe the air carried through to the last two plays. Baffico, Tackles Lloyd Voss and Monte Kiffin smeared Miller for an eight-yard loss with 20 seconds left. Their mates deflected Mike’s final throw as the clock ran out.
Although the score was not as convincing against Kansas, Nebraska statistical superiority was greater.
The Scarlet outrushed O.S. 272-96, compared with 369-122 at Lawrence, outgained the Cowpokes, 125-31, by passing while trailing in that department, 11-149, at K.U.
Nebraska’s first-down cushion Saturday was 22-5 compared with 21-14 at Lawrence.
Oklahoma State was so feeble the first half it netted only 40 yards on the ground and five through the air.
Early in the second quarter a 50-yard Nebraska march started when Johnson pirated a pass failed as Claridge’s fourth-down keeper was six inches short on the O.S. five.
A few minutes later Thornton fumbled the ball away on the three after a Claridge to Jim Huge pass down the middle had carried 35 yards to a first down on the six.
A mild threat midway through the second period failed when Ross, behind a perfect screen, left his friends and got only 13 yards on what appeared to be touchdown sprint.
This preceded the controversial pass to Callahan.
After halftime, the O.S. defense, sparked by Leland Slack, a 195-pound junior guard, and Marcus Hendricks, a 185-pound sophomore end, stymied the sputtering Nebraska attack.
Thornton was short of necessary distance by a yard on the O.S. 20 with four minutes left in the third quarter. Claridge fumbled a fourth-down snap on the 25 midway in the fourth period.
Thirty seconds before the game ended, sophomore Doug Tucker’s pass to Larry Tomlinson from the O.S. 12 was picked off by Cowpoke Jack Jacobson on the three.
The cold kept down the size of the crowd, but the anticipated sellout of 62 thousand at Norman Saturday will give Nebraska a 400 thousand attendance total, a record for a 10-game season.
|Yards per carry||3.8||3.8|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.
|South Dakota||Sept. 22|
|Iowa State||Oct. 6|
|North Carolina State||Oct. 13|
|Kansas State||Oct. 20|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 17|
|Miami (FL)||Dec. 15|
Nebraska has played 17 games on Nov. 17. See them all »
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