LINCOLN — Still equal to every occasion, Nebraska’s resolute football team gilded its bowl bait with a fourth straight undisputed Big Eight championship Saturday by beating cranky Oklahoma State, 21-6.
Annexation of the title came earlier than anticipated, with Missouri upsetting Oklahoma, 10-7, to provide the welcome assist.
Nebraska’s convincing performance was cheered by the greatest public gathering in the history of the state — 65,102.
It also brought appreciative smiles from Sugar and Orange Bowl representatives, who remained noncommittal in obedience to a national collegiate rule forbidding bowl commitments before the morning of November 21.
The 9-0 Cornhuskers close their season in a nationally-televised game at Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day. They probably will vote on their bowl preference at a meeting today, but the university also must remain mum until the prescribed day for announcements.
Nebraska’s 15-point margin was its greatest of the OSU series — and has been topped this season only by Houston, which handed the Cowpokes a 35-9 lacing in the Astrodome.
Arkansas’s advantage over OSU, achieved in the final minutes, was 14-10.
Nebraska held only a 7-6 lead at the half, but never did the score-and-time combination suggest Oklahoma State was on the brink of toppling the defending champions.
Nebraska pranced 59, 21 and 45 yards for its touchdowns; one by Ben Gregory and two by quarterback Bob Churchich, who was deadly and deliberate in the clutch.
Oklahoma State twice had the ball inside the N.U. 40.
The first occasion was made possible by Doug Cathey’s recovery of a Pete Tatman fumble on the Husker 29 in the second period. Quarterback Ronnie Johnson drove in and scored from the one.
The other venture came in the final minutes as sub quarterback Mike Arnold directed the visitors to the Nebraska nine. The threat died when peerless Larry Wachholtz snatched a pass at the two and ran it out 22 yards.
The dashing theft hiked Wachholtz’s school-record season total to seven.
Oklahoma State paraded an exciting fullback in sophomore Jack Reynolds, who charged at the Huskers 20 times for one hundred yards.
That effort would have been a show-stealer in most pigskin arenas, but Husker Harry (Old Folks) Wilson went Reynolds one better by pounding 104 yards in 21 carries.
Wilson’s dynamic hoofing added up to the top production by any N.U. back this season. Perhaps he was just chilly; the temperature was 36 degrees at kick-off.
Among the Black Shirts’ numerous standouts were ends Langston Coleman and Jerry Patton, both of whom recovered fumbles, and middle guard Wayne Meylan, who had no help on half of his dozen tackles.
The defense was sharp enough to chop down the OSU quarterbacks for losses totaling 36 yards.
Churchich broke the Nebraska one-season pass-yardage mark on his first effort. He tagged Gregory for eight yards, six more than he needed to beat Claridge’s 1962 record of 974.
With six completions — four to Tom Penney and one to Denny Morrison, Churchich extended his record to 1,060 yards.
Morrison made a fine catch for 24 yards and a first down on the OSU 15 during Nebraska’s second possession of the first quarter.
Tatman added a yard but the Huskers lost the ball on the next down when Churchich’s blind pitch to Tatman sailed away and the enemy recovered.
The third opportunity to hustle the ball was milked for seven points.
After Wilson, Tatman and Gregory did the grubbing, Churchich pitched to Penney for 23 yards and a first down on the OSU 13. Wilson added three. Then, on the first play of the second quarter, Gregory ripped around the right side on a touchdown path marked by the strewn bodies of defenders.
Penney made the final block near the goal line.
It was Gregory’s seventh touchdown of the campaign, breaking his tie with Wachholtz for the team scoring lead. Larry contributed three placement conversions, however.
Tatman’s fumble four minutes later was the product of a bump by 6-6 Dennis Randall. Following Cathey’s recovery, OSU drilled 29 yards in five plays.
Reynolds barely nudged over the goal line from the one to score. Placement specialist Craig Kessler’s kick was smothered by an en masse Husker charge.
Churchich’s first touchdown came in the third quarter after Coleman had grabbed a fumble by Reynolds on the OSU 21. It was a fourth down on the four when the senior weaved through his right side. Linebacker Jerry Gill’s tackle was a couple of strides too late.
Two plays in particular delighted the rooters before Nebraska scored again.
Patton was anything but a jolly scarlet giant when he rumbled into the Cowpoke backfield and pounced on Johnson for a 12-yard setback.
The other jaw-dropper was a punt by N.U. sophomore Joe Armstrong which zoomed at least 65 yards on the fly.
The final quarter was only 20 or 30 bruises old when crumpling tackles by Langston Coleman, Carel Stith and Meylan made Johnson punt on fourth-and-14.
Wachholtz’s return started the Nebraska sequence on the OSU 45.
On the second play, Wilson literally raged around his left end for 19 yards and a first down on the 22. Churchich salted the power bucks of Tatman and Wilson with an eight-yard aerial to Penney.
With Nebraska on the three, Churchich wriggled through the N.U. right side and laid the ball smack on the goal stripe.
Official ruling: no touchdown.
Churchich nuzzled straight ahead to get the job done.
Trailing, 6-21, with 6:49 to play, Coach Phil Cutchin switched to quarterback Arnold for a long-range aerial assault which finally died in Wachholtz’s greedy hands.
Since so many of the seniors had left their marks on the visitors, it was appropriate that sophomore Dick Davis could register promise for the future by romping 19 yards on the final two plays of the game.
|Yards per carry||3.4||3.7|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.
|Utah State||Sept. 24|
|Iowa State||Oct. 1|
|Kansas State||Oct. 15|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 12|
Nebraska has played 21 games on Nov. 12. See them all »
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