NORMAN, Okla. — The University of Nebraska football team suffered its most shattering defeat in a dozen years Saturday as Tailback Steve Owens’s Big Eight-record scoring led Oklahoma on a 47-0 spree.
Not since the 1956 Huskers were smeared 54-6 in this same bull ring had the Lincolnites been whipped so decisively.
Among the broken bits left in the wake of Owens’s brutalizing five-touchdown performance was an offer for Nebraska to play Mississippi in the Liberty Bowl at Memphis.
There had been no official mention of the bid by the N.U. staff, but it was understood that the offer was good — and that acceptance would be automatic — had the Cornhuskers upset the defending Big Eight champions.
It is safe to assume that any and all bowl feelers were snatched back at the half, when Oklahoma already was riding a 28-0 lead on the rangy junior tailback’s first four touchdowns.
A robot-rushing son of a Miami, Okla., truck driver, Owens retired in the fourth quarter after carrying 41 times for 172 yards. He also caught two passes for eight yards as Oklahoma overwhelmed N.U. in total yardage, 414-184, and outdowned the visitors by 27-7.
With the Oklahoma State game remaining, Owens has collected 1,416 yards to expunge the one-season conference record of 1,342 set by Nebraska’s Bobby Reynolds in 1950.
Saturday’s accomplishments included these additional records.
>> Most points in a conference game, 30; old record 28 by Ralph Graham, Kansas State, 1932, against Kansas Wesleyan.
>> Most points by an O.U. back in one season, 120; old record of 117 by George (Junior) Thomas, 1949.
>> Most touchdowns by an O.U. back in one season, 20; old record 19 by Thomas, 1949.
Owens already had wiped out the school’s one-season rushing record held by Billy Vessels, and the league’s two-season rushing record held by Gale Sayers.
Unfortunately for the Cornhusker “image,” the game was televised nationally.
That was a mistake. The presentation belonged on Educational TV Network with a title announcing, “Oklahoma Exhibition of Big-Time Football.”
Nebraska was never in the running.
The Cornhuskers, who hung up a second straight 6-4 record and a 3-4 conference grade, managed only one first down each of the first two quarters.
Hampered by poor field position, Nebraska had not poked beyond the Sooner 33 by halftime. That venture was wrecked the next play when Ends Jim Files and Steve Zabel pinned Quarterback Ernie Sigler on a hurried fourth-down pass that was incomplete.
In the third period, with Frank Patrick at quarterback, the Huskers made their solitary big bid of the day.
Patrick’s 29-yard run to the 0.U. 15 was the key gainer. However, he was dazed as tacklers drove him out of bounds. Sigler returned to maneuver the Huskers to a first down on the four-yard line.
Having thus tempted fate, Nebraska bowed to fate’s mocking smirk.
Sigler fumbled the hand-off from center, and Joe Kusiak recovered for Oklahoma on the four.
There was a hint that Oklahoma was primed for a super-natural showing when during the pre-game prayer given over the public address system, a student urged the Good Lord to “take a couple of hours off and watch the game, okay?” If that wasn’t “okay,” the Sooners were.
With his usual consummate skill, senior Bobby Warmack quarterbacked touchdown journeys of 57, 68, 64, 61 and 88 yards.
True, Warmack had a little difficulty with the aerial game for a while, but he finished the afternoon with his usual 500-plus performance. He completed 11 of 20 passes for 122 yards.
Each of the five long drives was topped by an Owens touchdown burst.
The 6-2, 205-pounder opened his greatest touchdown show by smacking over the O.U. right guard from the three. He didn’t breeze across; he was met hard at the goal by Jerry Murtaugh and Bob Liggett. But he got his six points.
He proceeded to add touchdowns on a 16-yard bolt through the Husker left side, a two-yard plunge in the same vicinity, a one-yard thrust through the middle, and a 20-yard romp into the N.U. right side.
Nebraska wasn’t playing giveaway during that period of carnage.
Oklahoma obtained the ball four times on punts and once when Nebraska was inches short on a fourth-down try at the O.U. 39.
By the time Oklahoma had stacked up a 35-0 lead, embellished by Bruce Derr’s five straight conversions, Nebraska was pressing frantically.
Try anything. Try any body.
The fourth period was less than five minutes old when End Paul Topliff made an excellent catch of a Patrick pass to give Nebraska a first down on its 37. The play was worth 24 yards and some much-needed spiritual uplift.
Then Patrick hurled the ball toward Fullback Danny Schneiss.
Linebacker Steve Casteel intercepted at full gallop and dashed 37 yards through wholly open territory for a touchdown.
With about 4 1/2 minutes to go, a Patrick pass was derailed by Gary Harper, who lateraled to Jimmy Linn at the N.U. 22. Linn hurried on to the eight-yard line.
On first down, blazer Bobby Thompson, taking Owens’s spot at tailback, ran wide around his left end. He was in the arms of Husker Tom Heller when he lunged into the end zone.
In the final moments of action, Tony Dvorsak was quarterbacking Nebraska. Paul Rogers, better known as a placement kicker, became a ball carrier. The regulars were in deep mourning on the sideline.
Dick Davis was top rusher for Nebraska with 27 yards. Patrick was next with 24 yards. Joe Orduna was held to 17.
Joe Armstrong averaged 39.9 yards on 10 punts, and perhaps that was the best thing Nebraska did.
Wingback Eddie Hinton added to the O.U. record-breaking as he caught seven passes for 88 yards. That hiked his season yardage total to 803, topping the 782 Big Eight record set by Iowa State’s Eppie Barney in 1966.
Jerry Murtaugh was in on 15 tackles, by far the best showing by an N.U. defender. People named Larry MacDuff, Jim Files, Don Pfrimmer, John Titsworth and Steve Casteel terrorized the Nebraska offense.
It was a frightfully long, hot, painful afternoon for the visitors.
|Yards per carry||4.1||2.5|
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 26|
|Iowa State||Nov. 2|
|Kansas State||Nov. 9|
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