LINCOLN — Nebraska’s undefeated football team showed Sugar Bowl scouts awesome all-around strength Saturday while handing Big Ten Wisconsin its worst mauling in 18 years, 37 to 0.
Although employing his offensive and defensive regulars less than three periods, Coach Bob Devaney kept the upper hand throughout a game which was marked by Husker explosiveness and the visitors’ sporting efforts.
Not since California drubbed the 1947 team of Coach Harry Stuhldreher by 48 to 7 had Wisconsin suffered such a beating.
Nebraska, now 4-0 in what could become a national championship season, scored on the power of Pete Tatman and Charlie Winters, unexpected climax running by Fred Duda, the speed of Frank Solich and Ben Gregory, and the kicking of Larry Wachholtz.
Nebraska amassed 283 yards rushing. It even out-gained Wisconsin in the air, 98 yards to 88, although the desperate visitors hurled the ball 30 times.
Fringe benefits included the fattening of Devaney’s record against Big Ten opposition to 4-0 and Wisconsin’s first loss ever in 13 meetings with Big Eight schools.
Solich gave fans pleasant food for thought when he declared in the post-game locker room: “I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet. We are capable of better ball...”
The crowd of 53,810 was second only to the Band Day throng of 54,125 the previous week.
Fans saw another impressive demonstration of Nebraska’s exceptional depth when Defensive End Mike Grace retired with a leg injury midway in the first quarter.
Defensive End Langston Coleman had been shelved prior to the game.
Yet Devaney was able to come up with subs such as sophomores Jerry Patton and Ivan Zimmer, who joined regular Bill Haug in keeping consistently stiff pressure on Wisconsin passer Chuck Burt.
The importance of the rookies’ play was emphasized when Trainer Paul Schneider reported that Haug suffered a knee injury which will require prompt surgery. The dependable senior from Minneapolis is assumed lost for the remainder of the year.
N.U. also operated with makeshift backfields because of the absence of the injured Ron Kirkland, No. 1 left half.
His replacement as punter, sophomore Al Kuehl, had a fine day with five punts for a 39-yard average. Soph Wayne Weber, who quarterbacked the final touchdown sequence, kicked once for 39.
Again exciting Husker rooters with his versatile play was Safety Wachholtz, who returned six punts for 113 yards, intercepted two passes and deflected a third, and took part in five tackles.
It was a 55-yard punt return by the North Platte junior which set up the first touchdown of the second half.
Also sparkling with the Black Shirts as they registered their second consecutive shut-out were Linebackers Lynn Senkbeil and Mike Kennedy, who combined to have a hand in 18 tackles; rookie Jerry Murphy and senior John Strohmyer at middle guard, Cornerback Bill Johnson and Safety Ron Poggemeyer.
A towering punt by Kuehl in the opening moments put the Husker scoring machine in business.
Safety Dave Fronek scorned the security of a fair catch, and fumbled when Jim Osberg and Tony Jeter crashed into him. The ball was claimed for Nebraska on the Badger 31 by Tackle Dennis Carlson.
On first down, a Duda-Jeter pass carried to the three. With the Badgers’ big defenders playing tough, it took three plays to reach the one.
Tatman then charted through his right side, bounced off Fronek and Bob Richter, and chugged in for the touchdown that extended Nebraska’s consecutive game scoring streak to 38.
Suprisingly, Wachholtz’s placement was wide.
For the remainder of the opening period, the rival defenses stole the show.
However, with five minutes gone in the second quarter, Duda staggered Wisconsin with two plays that moved the ball from Nebraska’s 33 to touchdown No. 2.
The first shot was an eight-yard pass to Freeman White.
The second was a masterpiece of skill and deception by Duda, who had won the starting assignment at quarterback for his work against Iowa State a week earlier.
The blond senior faked Solich into the middle before taking off on a scenic cruise around the Husker right end. When tacklers loomed dangerously, Duda twice motioned as though to flip the ball to the trailing Tatman.
As the Badgers hesitated, Duda whistled past, threaded his way to the opposite side of the field and out-raced Tom Brigham and Dave Berg when they made futile challenges inside the Badger six.
Following that 59-yard thriller, Duda whipped an end-zone pass to White, who muscled in front of Brigham to lift the count to 14 to 0.
Later in the same period, Solich demonstrated to an advance delegation from the National Postmasters’ Convention in Omaha how he makes his personal zip code work.
He darted through the middle on a draw, cut left and used his blockers expertly to streak 49 yards to the enemy 20. End Greg Rice, one of Wisconsin’s more able defenders, prevented the touchdown.
After Wilson dropped a Duda pass in the end zone, Wachholtz kicked a field goal from the 14 with 22 seconds remaining.
The intermission breather gave Wisconsin fresh tenacity for the third quarter, but on its third possession Nebraska again worked six-point magic.
With the ball on the Badger 29, Duda cocked his arm for a pass. He waved once, but decided to give his receiver more time.
As Solich neared the goal line, Duda threw for keeps.
The six-foot-one Fronek jumped to take a swing at the ball, but missed. The five-foot-eight Solich, slipping behind him, gathered in the ball with sure hands for the score.
It was 24 to 0 when Wachholtz delivered from placement.
With the defense giving Fronek nightmares, he punted from behind his 31 late in the third quarter. The ball was hustled 55 yards to the 11 by Wachholtz on one of the warm afternoon’s prettiest forays.
Choo-Choo Winters was fed the ball by Bob Churchich and slammed inside the one. Again hitting the right side, he high-stepped his way across without a wobble.
Wachholtz kicked the score to 31 to 0.
Nebraska played out the final quarter with mixtures of second, third and fourth-stringers.
With less than two minutes to play, Patton caused the weary Burt to fumble on an attempted pass. Len Janik captured the ball on the Wisconsin 31, from where Wayne Weber steered N.U. to a touchdown in three plays.
Gregory made 15, three and 13, the final burst coming through the middle.
In the final accounting, Nebraska intercepted three passes and recovered three Wisconsin fumbles. It did not allow Wisconsin beyond the N.U. 37 the first half — and not past the 50 the second half.
Wisconsin netted only 55 ground yards, of which 48 were provided by Halfback Tom Schinke. Injured earlier, this was the first game this year in which he carried the ball.
Although pressured with Top Ten prestige and bowl talk, Nebraska acquitted itself with distinction that no one had dared to predict.
|Yards per carry||1.4||6.0|
Nebraska is 4-10 all-time against Wisconsin.
|Air Force||Sept. 25|
|Iowa State||Oct. 2|
|Kansas State||Oct. 16|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 13|
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