LINCOLN — Efficient Missouri beat embarrassed Nebraska over the head with its own mistakes Saturday, transforming three fumbles into a 16-7 victory.
A homecoming throng of 38 thousand saw the previously unbeaten Cornhuskers scrap to a 7-7 half-time tie, then lose most of their poise under the pressure of a relentless defensive pounding.
Nebraska fumbled six times and completed only two of 14 passes while the enemy was stealing three.
Ernie Seiler, executive director of the Orange Bowl, declared:
"Missouri can hold its own with anybody in the country. This team has a helluva defense."
The biggest surprise was the flop of Nebraska's passing attack.
It netted only seven yards the first half and was a complete washout the final two periods.
Quarterback Denny Claridge couldn't have had much more trouble trying to throw from the deep end of a swimming pool.
He was persistently hounded by enemies such as Conrad Ritchler, the big, crashing end; Jerry Wallach, Jimmie Vermillion, Gene Oliver and Roger Phillips.
Meanwhile, the Tigers' defensive secondary followed Nebraska's receivers with a tenacity that would have made Scotland Yard's. best men jealous.
As a result, Claridge threw hurriedly and extra hard.
He usually was close to the target; even then his frantic fielders had trouble grabbing the ball and when they did they couldn't control it.
Wallach, a tackle, gave this Missouri version:
"Our pass defense had Claridge sewed up and that gave us time to give him trouble."
Nebraska did end one bit of ignominy when Noel Martin chugged 88 yards to score with an intercepted pass in the second quarter. That was Nebraska's first tally of any kind of five years against this rival.
It also the first second-quarter touchdown given up by Missouri this year.
The visitors had made a 33-yard pass play, Keith Weber to Johnny Roland, the key to a sweep from their 37 to the losel Nebraska 16 — apparently on their way to a second touchdown.
At the 16, Roland tried his only pass of the day.
With a couple of Huskers giving him trouble, the rookie halfback threw without having a safe target. Linebacker John Kirby tipped the ball on about the 13. Martin caught it on the 12.
The substitute fullback from Kansas has good power but never regained his excellent speed following knee surgery a couple of years ago.
Speed wasn't vital on this play, however.
Blockers formed quickly and end Larry Tomlinson led the pack up the sideline. Martin dutifully galloped along.
Just inside the Missouri 20, Kent McCloughan spurted to avoid a clip, then hurled himself in front of Paul Underhill, the closest Tiger in pursuit.
Martin followed Tomlinson on into the end zone.
When John Faiman's conversion kick was true, Nebraska's was back in an even ball game — on the scoreboard, at least.
Missouri had jumped ahead in the first quarter on Roland's 46-yard sprint. Taking the ball on a reverse, he shot around his right end and down the sideline.
Roland fumbled when hit by McCloughan at the goal line, but the officials said the touchdown came first.
Roland's stab was made on the second play after Daryl Krugman's recovery of a fumble by Claridge. On first down, the hapless Claridge almost intercepted Jim Johnson's toss to Vince Turner.
But Dennv didn't hold onto the ball and Roland did ramble and Bill Leistritz did kick the extra point.
Although Martin's run enabled Nebraska to draw eyen, the statistic all were in Missouri's favor at the half. Nebraska's beaming fans didn't want to be bother by the details; the scoreboard gave full satisfaction.
In the third quarter, they squirmed through a series of misplays that assured Missouri of its fourth straight conference victory and a fat 6-0-1 record for the year.
Bill Thornton, who at other times performed with his brilliance of old, fumbled the second-half kick-off. The ball was picked up by Willie Ross, who retreated and was tackled on the 13.
Nothing came of that possession but Missouri had to punt a couple of minutes later. It was a touchback.
Scrimmaging from the 20, Claridge fumbled on first, and Tom Hertz, one of the peskiest of the visitors, recovered on the U.N. 21.
Key plays by Bob Brown, Bill Comstock and McCloughan shoved Missouri back to the 28 in three downs. On fourth down, Leistritz attempted a field goal from the 35. He had failed from the 29 in the opening quarter but this kick soared high and squarely between the uprights.
The score was 10-7 with more than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Missouri kicked off. This time Rudv Johnson fumbled, then recovered on the Nebraska 18.
Nebraska's unrewarded defense was still scrapping after a Husker punt that soon followed.
Clutch tackles by Mike Eger, Tomlinson and Kirby forced a punt.
Dave Theisen, running laterally to make the catch, touched the ball but failed to field it. Underhill claimed possession on Nebraska's 26.
Missouri shot Ken Hinkley, Roland, Turner and Underhill for gains that carried to the five. Quarterback Johnson wedged to the three, Underhill bullied his way to the one on the first play of the fourth quarter. Johnson slipped across.
Warren Powers blocked the kick by Leistritz in a final display of Husker defiance.
In the remaining 14 minutes and 27 seconds, Nebraska had the ball for four offensive series.
The first ended with Hitchler's interception of a Claridge jump pass.
The most promising was checked on the Missouri 29 when Andy Russell intercepted a pass by Claridge.
Nebraska was a decisively beaten football team. But the Huskers still show a 6-1 record, and with Kansas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma on the road ahead, they'll be asked to play lots more football.
|Yards per carry||3.5||4.1|
Nebraska is 65-36 all-time against Missouri.
|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 15 games on Nov. 3. See them all »
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