#14 Nebraska 31
Utah 0

Sept. 21, 1968 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

1 2 3 4 T
Utah 0 0 0 0 0
Nebraska 17 7 0 7 31

Cornhuskers Demolish Utah, 31 to 0

What happened, Gary Kerl? The big guy, No. 86, in the background may be wondering, also, as Dan Schneiss digs in for 16 Husker yards. ED RATH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Patrick Flips Help N.U. in 2d Victory As 65,424 Watch

LINCOLN — A university chancellor once-wryly observed that the three major administrative problems on-campus are sex for the students, athletics for the alumni, and parking for the faculty.

Saturday was a grand day for the alumni as the Nebraska football team overpowered the University of Utah, 31-0, before a Band Day crowd of 65,424 – second largest in home-field history.

Nebraska ran and passed for 518 yards against the greener, thinner team from the Western Athletic Conference.

The Cornhuskers grabbed 17 points in the first 12½ minutes. In fact, their unchained offense mounted a 10-0 lead before the defensive platoon ever got onto the field.

Sophomore Paul Rogers, whose late kick spilled Wyoming the previous week, lofted a 28-yard field goal for the opening points against Utah. He added four conversions with “old pro” aplomb.

Tom Penney, senior end and co-captain, caught his first varsity touchdown pass. It was a 41-yard play, with pitcher Frank Patrick proving he’s still very much in the quarterback picture.

The Supreme Moment

Quarterback Ernie Sigler was ramrod on the first two touchdown drives – with Halfbacks Mike Green and Joe Orduna scoring ­– and came back in the final period to wrap it up with a scoring toss to End Jim McFarland.

The barnacles were thoroughly scraped off the Husker attack, which mixed 32 passes with a ground game that tested Utah’s defense from end to end.

Perhaps the supreme moment of insouciance came in the fourth quarter when big Patrick dipped into his end zone and shot a pass to Halfback Larry Frost on the N.U 18.

Utah is no Wyoming; that was evident. But the triumph was good tonic for a Nebraska team which will need lots of confidence in its battle with Minnesota this week.

The victory was No. 90 for Bob Devaney, who is just getting started on his twelfth season as a head coach on the university level. It was Devaney’s fifty-fifth victory at Nebraska.

The one saddening note was the post-game report that Penney had suffered a cracked collar bone and might not be available for a month.

Coupled with the lively attack was a blistering defense that tackled Utah backs with deficits totaling 53 yards. The visitors’ net on the ground was 46.

Defense Takes Over

There were fumble recoveries by Ends Sherwin Jarmon and Frank Avolio, and Tackle Bob Liggett. One of the most noteworthy performances turned in by a Black Shirt was that of sophomore Linebacker Jerry Murtaugh, a former state wrestling champion out of Omaha North.

Defensive vignette: Utah’s Jim Street recovered Dick Davis’s fumbled second-half kick-off return on the Nebraska 20. Bill Fowler recovered his own fumble for a five-yard loss. Murtaugh tripped Quarterback Ray Groth for a nine-yard loss. Liggett batted down a Groth pass just as it left his hands. Fourth and 24, Utah punted.

On a sweltering afternoon with the temperature hitting 85; Nebraska took the opening kick-off and punched away at a fiercely resistant defense until reaching the Utah 12. It was fourth and three when Rogers delivered his field goal.

Nebraska toed the ball to Utah, but Street fumbled and Jarmon recovered on the Ute 18. Three shots by Green, a seven-yard pass from Sigler to Paul Topliff and an offside against Utah put the ball just inside the three-yard line in five plays.

The right side of the Nebraska line opened an inviting gap as Green followed Davis over the goal for a touchdown.

A couple of minutes later, Randy Reeve’s hard tackle of Groth caused a fumble which Leggett covered on the Nebraska 47. Green gained three, then broke loose to the Utah 24 on a steaming gallop. However, Davis was caught wrestling a persistent defender, and Nebraska was shoved back to its 35.

Touchdown for Orduna

Never fear. A couple of plays later, Sigler passed to slickster Guy Ingles for 25 yards and a first down on the enemy 37. Green nipped inside right end for a gain of 19. The going got tougher, but Orduna came through with a fourth-down burst that put the ball on the three.

Davis was a foot short of the goal line. Davis was an inch or two short. Joe Armstrong, Ed Hansen and Glenn Patterson then dynamited a hole which enabled Orduna to dart across.

After Rogers did his duty from placement, with 2:33 remaining in the opening quarter, Nebraska had its second straight victory tucked away.

Before Nebraska could fatten its total in the second period, its hair-raising safety, Al Larson, fumbled a punt return to Guard Kent Ramon on the Nebraska 17.

The Black Shirts once more asserted themselves. Utah gave up the ball on the 18 when the contrite Larson broke up a fourth-down pass by Groth.

Incidentally, both Groth and sub Quarterback Tim Collins can be expected to file harassment charges with the American Civil Liberties Union against Husker Mike Wynn.

Beefy Mitt From Detroit

The 6-foot-5 junior end from Detroit was waving a beefy mitt in their faces much of the afternoon. Very unfriendly. And he worked for the Lincoln Police Department last summer, too.

After regaining the ball on its 18, Patrick ushered the Huskers on the 74-yard drive. Orduna lost the ball on the Utah nine, where Norm McBride, demon defensive end, recovered.

Utah punted on first down; Dana Stephenson returned 10 yards to the Nebraska 48.

From the Utah 41, third and nine. Patrick avoided a hard rush long enough to hurl the ball to Penney.

Penney is no ordinary end. He played halfback at August (Kans.) High School, and averaged 8.6 yards per carry his senior season. As Patrick’s pass began to descend, Penney spurted behind Craig Smith. He fielded the ball smoothly and sped on to end zone.

Late in the third quarter, Penney gained 57 yards – to the Utah eight – on a pass from Sigler. The threat died on the four.

However, another Sigler-Penney completion, good for 11 yards, was opening play on the final scoring push. That was when Penney was injured.

Sigler Passes Click

The king-sized blot this time was a pass from Sigler to Davis, who was crowded out on the Utah nine by Craig Smith following a gain of 46 yards.

Utah’s Doug Poulson, Larry Stone and Gary Barker made outstanding defensive moves only to have Sigler pitch six yards to McFarland in the end zone on the fourth down.

McFarland, who also scored against Wyoming in his first varsity game, this time ducked behind Dick Worley on the touchdown maneuver.

In a complete turnabout from the opening game, Orduna led all rushers with a net of 67 yards whereas Davis was held to a net of 19 on 10 carries. Green contributed 59, Danny Schneiss 30.

Frost-ing on Win Cake

Larry Frost caught the most passes, five; Penney made the most yards, 122 on four receptions.

Craig Smith of Utah earned recognition with a 45-yard average on eight punts. He averaged 50 on his first four.

Utah could take pride on unflagging defensive play by Fred McFarren, Larry Stone, Dan Bailey, Barker, Street and Smith in a losing cause. Each totaled at least 10 tackles and assists. Utah was heavily outmanned, but it did not fold.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Game stats

Opp NU
Penalty yards 60
Rush yards 46 204
Rush attempts 37 61
Yards per carry 1.2 3.3
Pass yards 92 314
Comp.-Att.-Int. 10-29-0 19-32-2
Yards/Att. 3.2 9.8
Yards/Comp. 9.2 16.5
Fumbles 3 3

Series history

Nebraska is 4-0 all-time against Utah.

See all games »

1968 season (6-4)

Wyoming Sept. 14
Utah Sept. 21
Minnesota Sept. 28
Kansas Oct. 12
Missouri Oct. 19
Oklahoma State Oct. 26
Iowa State Nov. 2
Kansas State Nov. 9
Colorado Nov. 16
Oklahoma Nov. 23

This day in history

Nebraska has played 10 games on Sept. 21. See them all »

©2019 BH Media Group