MIAMI, Fla.—The victory dance was dedicated to Nebraska’s Cornhuskers at plush Indiana Creek Country Cloud on Biscayne Bay Wednesday night. What a delightful melody it was!
Coach Bob Devaney’s Big Eight champions earned all the tributes they heard at the post-game party by mastering Auburn, 13 to 7, before a spillover crowd of 72,647 at the thirtieth anniversary Orange Bowl contest.
Nebraska wrapped its scoring into the first 16 minutes and 55 seconds, then preserved its lead with a gallant defense in a hair-raising finish.
Take the world of a neutral, Sports Editor Jimmy Burns of the Miami Herald.
“It was true what they said about Nebraska being a big, strong and resourceful football team,” Burns wrote. “The Cornhuskers lived up to that reputation here…”
From Quarterback Denny Claridge’s record-breaking touchdown run of 68 yards on the second play of the game to Co-Captain John Kirby’s demolition of Jimmy Sidle’s all-or-nothing pass with 90 seconds to go, Nebraska had victory in its hands.
The tremendous scare posed by Auburn’s late drive to the Husker 11 cannot be shrugged off. But Nebraska fans cherish eh memory of a blazing first half in which the Southeastern Conference foe was convincingly — and convulsively — whipped.
At the half, Nebraska led by 13 to 0 and showed a vast superiority in total offense of 182 yards to 72. Auburn had averaged a scant 1.6 yards on 15 ground missions.
The only time the enemy go past its own 45-yard line during the first two periods was when a personal foul penalty moved the football 15 yards to the Nebraska 40.
The shocking run by Claridge started as a simple line-loosener. But so savage was the blocking that he breezed past the line of scrimmage and through the right side.
Once the 222-pounder senior angled close to the sideline, it was a straightaway race with Auburn Halfback Billy Edge. When Edge made a lunging try for a tackle just inside the Husker 20, he got only a jarring stiff-arm.
That run was one yard better than the Orange Bowl’s record scrimmage sprint by Mississippi’s Ned Peters in 1936.
On paper, Auburn had all the kicking edge.
On the field, Nebraska took the honors.
Dave Theisen, senior back from Milwaukee gave Nebraska a 7-to-0 edge with one minutes and 13 seconds elapsed when he kicked from placement with Fred Duda holding. That followed the Claridge run.
Later in the first period, after Nebraska had swept 44 yards to the Auburn 14, Theisen booted a 31-yard goal.
In the second quarter, four plays after Sophomore End Tony Jeter had recovered a fumble on the Auburn 22, Theisen clicked on a 36-yard kick for a field goal.
Both goals by the former Marquette University player topped the record 1939 boot of Tennessee's Bowden Wyatt.
Also prominent in this category were End Larry Tomlinson’s three kick-offs, two of which flew into the end zone and could not be returned.
Claridge averaged 38.2 yards on seven punts, none of which were returned. Nebraska picked up 114 yards on kick returns, compared with Auburn’s 18.
Did the Huskers unconsciously play with a little less fury the second half? That’s possible — and understandable.
At any rate, Auburn, ranked fifth in the final national poll, made a great comeback. The rally began to take form midway in the third quarter when the Tigers from Alabama started a 71-yard march.
IT was climaxed by All-America Sidle’s 13-yard sprint around his left end with a powerhouse blocking escort.
Woody Woodall’s kick produced the final point of the day.
Yet to come was Auburn’s fourth-quarter challenge, which covered 69-yards — mostly on Sidle’s aerial work — and consumed six minutes.
After the game, Coach Jordan was asked why Sidle hadn’t run instead of throwing the pass which Kirby knocked off course. Jordan’s answer was ample testimony that Nebraska’s heroic line still was a vital force despite the hot weather.
Said Jordan: “Our people in the press box just didn’t think we could get it across by running.”
At the post-game party, Emcee Curt Gowdy, ABC-TV sportscaster, declared that N.U. Tackle Monte Kiffin had played as great a second half as he had seen all season.
The party was missed by Huskers Lloyd Voss and Kirby, who flew to Memphis to join drills for the Senior Bowl Saturday, and Bob Brown, who was reported on his way to the Challenge Bowl in Corpus Christi, Tex.
The next Orange Bowl business will be negotiation regarding a possible new contract with the Big Eight. Neither group has expressed its desire.
Nebraska’s victory gave the conference a 7-4 edge for the consecutive years of its Miami representation. It was the first Big Eight triumph in four tests against Southeastern conference teams.
For most of the second half, Auburn had profited from greater momentum. That was first evident when the Tigers surged 71 yards for the only third-quarter touchdown scored against N.U. in 11 games.
Could the Huskers stop Auburn now that pressure was heaviest?
Claridge got off a punt that soared high and well beyond 50 yards although 20 were shaved when it bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
Auburn, which had to move the ball 80 yards, started quickly with a Sidle pass to Don Lewis for 12. Kirby, senior guard from David City, teamed with Center Lyle Sittler of Crete to limit Sidle’s trip around end to three.
Sidle added seven yards — and another first down — with a toss to End Howard Simpson, one of the contest’s great performers.
Under heavy rushing pressure, Sidle missed his next target and on the following play, Senior Tackle Kiffin of Lexington batted down a pass.
It was third and 10 — a critical moment.
Sidle pitched to Halfback George Rose fro 12, then wheeled to his right, juggled the ball, and zoomed upfield for 13 more and a first down on the N.U. 33.
He thrust three yards deeper with a flip to Lewis, who was hauled down by Wymore’s Joe McNulty.
When N.U.’s Jeter, the rookie end from West Virginia who was also one of the Orange Bowl’s heroic figures, slammed Sidle for a five-yard setback, there was another crisis for both antagonists.
Three minutes 45 seconds remained. Auburn was on the Nebraska 35. It was third down, 12 to make.
Sidle delivered in All-America fashion, hurling to Rose, who was hauled down on the 17 by Bobby Hohn, the Beatrice speedster.
If Auburn scored, it would be a tie game. But Auburn’s Woodall had a chain of 24 successful conversion kicks, and No. 25 would drop the Huskers behind with time running out.
Sidle raced to his left. Kirby, followed immediately by Dick Callahan and Walt Barnes, piled into him for a yard loss. On the next play, Callahan almost held on for an interception as he spoiled a Sidle pass to Rose.
Third and 12 with 2:21 to play.
Miraculously, Sidle was able to pass with Larry Tomlinson, the Husky senior wingman from O’Neill, hanging onto him. Husker partisans groaned as pass interference was called near the goal. They cheered — and the Huskers jumped for joy — when a countering motion penalty against Auburn nullified the play.
This time Sidle hit his target, Halfback Rose, who Callahan stopped on the 11. That made it fourth down, and Auburn still was four yards short of a fresh series.
Both Simpson and Fullback Doc Griffith broke out as potential receivers. Sidle threw toward Griffith, but Kirby made his tremendous save.
With a minute and half to kill, Claridge plunged twice, Fullback Rudy Johnson roared for seven and a precious first down. Claridge dropped to his knees, cuddling the ball as the game ended.
In the final analysis, Auburn was mastered both on the ground and in the air. Nebraska's defense was blue ribbon in every respect, as the record books will show.
Fully healed for the first time in several months, Claridge gave the Husker attack superb direction.
Claridge ran for 108 yards, added 30 on four pass completions.
His blockbuster was one-yard better than the Orange Bowl scrimmage-run record of 67, by Ned Peters of Mississippi against Catholic U in 1936.
Auburn used Southeastern Conference caution after winning the toss, then choosing a negligible cross wind of 13 m.p.h. while letting Nebraska have the option to receive.
The Huskers gladly exercised that option, Halfback Kent McCloughan of Broken Bow rambling 18 yards to the Nebraska 26 on the kick return.
Johnson charged over right guard to the 32.
Then Claridge angled through his right side, cut wide behind powerhouse blocking,hustled his 222 pounds past several defenders and broke up the sideline.
The only other Husker “touchdown” proved a false alarm when officials ruled Frank Solich stepped out on the Nebraska 42 while returning a punt all the way form the N.U. 20.
That ruling is in dispute.
There were additional breathtaking moments — such as Claridge pass that was barely out of Jeter’s reach in the end zone. But it was not a Nebraska game for “ifs.”
The accomplished was more than sufficient.
Nebraska gave Auburn a frosty eye from start to finish.
Even in the fading moments of the first half, when conservatives, might have been applauded, Enbrask attempted to fatten its 13-point advantage with three Claridge passes.
The victory was Nebraska’s seventh in a row. It erased the disappointment of the 1941 Rose Bowl defeat and atoned for the humiliation of the 1954 Orange Bowl drubbing.
|Yards per carry||3.6||4.4|
Nebraska is 3-1 all-time against Auburn.
|South Dakota State||Sept. 21|
|Iowa State||Oct. 5|
|Air Force||Oct. 12|
|Kansas State||Oct. 19|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 16|
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