LINCOLN — Fifth ranked Oklahoma yielded 413 yards to Nebraska’s highly-keyed Cornhuskers Thursday, but came from behind in the fourth quarter to grab a 21-14 victory and the undisputed Big Eight Conference championship.
It took a championship effort to withstand the fury of the home club’s bid for an upset.
The Nebraska Black Shirts knocked more than one hundred yards off the Sooner’s rushing average.
Quarterback Frank Patrick smashed a cluster of N.U. game records by completing 22 of 40 passes for 290 yards. Fullback Dick Davis stormed for 127 ground yards.
And in a fantastic second quarter, after trailing by 0-13 in an apparently hopeless cause, these spike-biting huskers surged to a 14-13 advantage.
Oklahoma kept its poise through all that uproar.
The Big Eight kings repeatedly were backed up and knocked down, but they always returned for more.
Late in the third quarter, they shoved Nebraska into a hole with a Gordon Wheeler punt that went out of bounds on the five. Four plays later, Husker Dana Stephenson punted out to the 33.
Onto the field went Bob Warmack, a junior ringmaster whose running, passing and sleight-of-hand tricks had led this team to a 7-1 record and an Orange Bowl invitation.
As the game sung into the fourth quarter, Warmack picked up a first down with an 11-yard pass to End Steve Zabel just outside the 22.
On the next play, Warmack smoothly pitched out to Wingback Eddie Hinton, who whistled his 197 pounds around left end.
Hinton lengthened his stride as he drew a pack of red-clad pursuers. But none could match his speed.
Adrian Fiala was the only Husker close enough to throw himself at Hinton. That effort was short as the Sooner crossed into the end zone near the corner flag.
Holding a 19-14 lead, Oklahoma called time and talked it over. The play chosen by coach Chuck Fairbanks, if successful, would make it impossible for Nebraska to go ahead with a touchdown and a placement.
Fairbanks got the two points he sought as Warmack fed the ball to Ron Shotts. The senior tailback hadn't thrown a pass this season — until now. he ran to his right, then fired expertly to the 6-4 Zabel in the end zone.
That's how the victory came to the much-beleaguered visitors, who never before had beaten a Bob Devaney team on this field.
Nebraska turned in its best blend of offense and defense in a season that closes at 6-4. Davis was by far the most dazzling runner on the field.
He averaged more than seven yards a carry. His N.U. season-high total of 127 yards completely overshadowed the play of the Big Eight's 1-2 rushers; Steven Owens and Ron Shotts netted only 26 yards apiece. Hinton topped O.U. with 69.
Patrick's receivers repeatedly made outstanding catches against a harassing defense that wound up with four interceptions, three by Safety Steve Barrett.
Ben Gregory took eight passes for 120 yards. Denny Morrison caught five for 76. Tom Penney, Joe Orduna and Denny Richnafsky each pulled in three.
Defensively, Middle Guard Wayne Meylan whipped all-America rival Granville Liggins by a surprisingly decisive margin. Meylan was credited with eight unaided tackles and five assists. The chart-keepers showed Liggins with two and three.
Rookie Cornerback Dana Stephenson had a superlative day, taking part in 10 tackles and breaking up three passes. Jim McCord, Barry Alvarez and Jim Hawkins also were outstanding.
Oklahoma Linebacker Pfrimmer, though, was a show by himself. He piled up 13 unassisted tackles and helped on three others — and that's the tally by Nebraska's statistician.
Oklahoma threatened to bury the Huskers in the first 15 minutes, getting a double shot of spirit juice when Orduna fumbled the opening kick-off and Jim Files recovered on the N.U. 25.
The Sooners punched to the three and settled for a 20-yard field goal by Mike Vachone on fourth down.
Six minutes later they took a Stephenson punt and barreled 47 yards for a touchdown. Shotts made it over right tackle from the one, and Vachon converted.
The count jumped to 13-0 early in the second period after End John Koller forced a Patrick fumble, which Liggins covered on the N.U. 31. This time Vachon's kick traveled 43 yards. Nebraska hadn't even crossed the 50 at this point.
Orduna's 12-yard return of the next kick-off left Nebraska 75 yards from a touchdown. Patrick passed to Orduna for 20 and to Gregory for 12. The latter shot lifted his season aerial total to 1,209 yards, the most ever by a Big Eight sophomore.
The count had dwindled to fourth and one on the Oklahoma 34 when Davis, getting a critical block from Gregory, thundered around right end and down the sideline to the 12.
Davis got only one yard on each of his next two carries, but Patrick whipped a third-down pass to Gregory for a touchdown. Bill Bomberger converted, drawing Nebraska up to 7-13 with 8:23 remaining in the half.
The Huskers got the ball back less than two minutes after the raging Meylan had driven Warmack onto the cinder track with a resounding tackle at the O.U. 19.
Then it was Liggin's turn to botch a sequence. He forced a fourth-and-nine pass, which Barrett intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. Oklahoma drove 60 yards only to have the Black Shirts stop them short at the Nebraska 20.
Patrick then directed his mates 80 yards to a touchdown. He started with a 43-yard pass play which featured a tackle-breaking, gasp-provoking run by Gregory after the catch.
There was a first-down run by Gregory and first-down catches by Morrison and Richnafsky as Nebraska hustled to the one. Patrick scored from there as his line blasted an opening in the middle.
Bomberger's 14-13 conversion turned the knob on delirium for the crowd of 60,048. Then came a moment which opened the way to further dramatics.
Hinton returned the kick-off to the O.U. 28, where Husker Harry Meagher recovered his fumble. On second down, with about half a minute to go, Patrick passed to Penney, who made a great catch in the end zone. The play was nullified by a penalty for illegal procedure.
It was a stroke of bad luck, but not a lasting conversation piece because the same thing had happened to Oklahoma on a Warmack-Hinton pass in the first period.
Nebraska wound up trying a field goal from the 26, but Bomberger's kick was short.
The Nebraska bench exploded in the third quarter when two consecutive interference calls helped Oklahoma to a first down on the N.U. 25. The alarm died when Patton and then McCord knocked down Warmack for consecutive losses totaling 25 yards.
Nebraska then drove to the 46 but had to punt after Patrick was swarmed for a 10-yard loss.
After Oklahoma recaptured the lead in the fourth quarter, Nebraska's best assault carried from its 32 to the Oklahoma nine — with a 32 run by Davis the showpiece.
Oklahoma drowned Husker hopes with Gary Harper's interception at the three.
|Yards per carry||2.9||3.0|
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
|Kansas State||Oct. 7|
|Iowa State||Nov. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 11|
Nebraska has played 23 games on Nov. 23. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group