MINNEAPOLIS — There weren't enough gopher holes for Minnesotans to hide in Saturday afternoon as Nebraska's exciting Cornhuskers mounted their greatest offensive show in four years, 42-14, before a crowd of 52,136. It was Nebraska's highest point total and largest winning margin in the 42 years of the rivalry.
And not since the 42-6 mauling of Kansas 37 games ago, in 1965, had the Cornhuskers run up such a massive total against any opponent.
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus also played a matinee this warm, breezy day, but you never could convince the 8,000 N.U. followers that Coach Bob Devaney didn't present "the greatest show on earth."
Nebraska stacked up 335 yards rushing and 256 yards passing for total offense of 591 while limiting Minnesota to an overall output of 265 yards.
Sophomore Jeff Kinney, the do-it-all kid from McCook, passed for one touchdown and scored a pair running. He also caught four passes.
Sophomore Jerry Tagge completed 15 of 23 passes for 219 yards and a pair of back-breaking touchdown strikes to tempestuous senior Larry Frost.
Guy Ingles caught the scoring pass from Kinney. It was Nebraska's first aerial counter of the season — and the first touchdown by someone other than a sophomore in the three Cornhusker games.
Devaney wound up using second and third-stringers, and still the Huskers kept parading into Minnesota territory. The final invasion, directed by soph quarterback Van Brownson, carried 83 yards.
The gunners on this coup de grace were rookie halfback Jeff Hughes, junior halfback Paul Rogers and junior fullback Danny Schneiss.
A 196-pound rambler from Burlington, Vt., Hughes showed expert footwork and eye-catching speed as he raced the final 24 yards. He broke through the N.U. left side, then followed an in-and-out course to the end zone.
The 42nd point was the sixth straight placement kick by Rogers, the youngster who saved last year's game here with a field goal. There was no need for such hairbreadth dramatics Saturday.
In retrospect, one of the most remarkable things about the triumph was the fact that Nebraska twice had to come from behind in the early milling.
Minnesota started quarterback Walter Bowser, a junior from Newport News, Va., and he steered his unit 60 yards to a touchdown on the Gophers' second possession of the game.
Captain Jim Carter crashed through Nebraska's right side, the Gophers' favorite rushing target, for the final four yards.
Late in the first period, Nebraska began an excursion that ticked off 73 yards in eight plays and produced a touchdown in the second quarter.
Co-captain Mike Green had center stage on two key plays. A block by Frost helped him to a 19-yard gain around left end, putting the ball on the Minnesota 42.
Frost added eight yards. Then Tagge, making his first Cornhusker start, hustled four yards around left and lateraled to Green. The Omaha Tech grad added 12 to the play, making it a first down on the 18.
Kinney carried twice, netting six. It was third-and-four from the 12 when he took a pitch from Tagge, loped to his right and fired a pass to Ingles in the end zone.
With Rogers doing his duty, it was 7-7, with 14:25 remaining in the first half.
Opportunity knocked in 2 1/2 minutes when end Sherwin Jarmon bumped the ball out of Bowser's hands, and end Mike Wynn recovered on the Gopher 35. Nebraska swept in for the kill, but when Kinney tried to duplicate his halfback pass with N.U. at the two, the gambit backfired.
Tagge was the intended target. Instead, Minnesota sophomore Gary Hohman snatched the pass at the one and streaked 99 yards to a touchdown. Jeff Nygren's second conversion put Minnesota back on top with a 14-7 edge.
That was the sort of play that could have ripped the gizzard out of a lesser club. And if Warmath needed a "clincher" before the half, he got it shortly when Bob Balley's interception wrecked a Nebraska sortie that had moved from the N.U. 32 to the Minnesota 15.
Tagge threw into a crowd consisting of end Jim McFarland and three defenders. Bailey won the fight, claiming the ball on the six.
But Nebraska remained mentally cool as the sun pushed the temperature close to 90 and the scoreboard threatened to boil over.
Getting the ball on their own 48 with 3:30 to play before intermission, the Huskers tallied in four plays. Green ran for four then took a pass for 10. In between, a Tagge pass to Frost fell incomplete.
Now, however, Tagge dropped the ball into Frost's hands as the former Malcolm eight-man star whisked across the goal line back of defender Ron Anderson. It was 14-14.
The final minute and a half before intermission was Barnum & Bailey comic relief. Adrian Fiala intercepted a Bowser pass. Bailey recovered a fumble by Green. Jim Anderson of Nebraska intercepted a pass by sub quarterback Craig Curry. A Tagge pass was intercepted by Walt Pribyl.
Nebraska kicked to Minnesota opening the second half. Moments later, rookie tackle Larry Jacobson deflected a pass by Bowser. Al Larson, one of the Blackshirts' old reliables, intercepted and hustled to the Gopher 17. Kinney, Green and Tagge took turns to the one-yard line. With Green and Paul Topliff widening the hole, Kinney scored.
Minnesota started a comeback, but had to punt when Blackshirts such as Wynn, Fiala and Dana Stephenson applied firm pressure.
Pribyl punted 42, Barry Mayer downing the ball one yard from the Nebraska goal line.
It was Kinney — you've seen the name before — who got Nebraska off the hook. He gained two yards, then bolted straightup the middle for 10 and a first down on the 13. Tagge opened the throttle at that point and smoothly took Nebraska to the Gopher 35.
Momentary trouble. Schneiss failed to gain. Tagge was pulled down for a loss of eight. So? So Tagge saw Frost loitering in the neighborhood of the 15. He threw. Frost ran and reached and scored. That was 99 yards and the ball game.
Tagge fancied the next one up a bit, pitching to McFarland for 25 yards and circling end for 26 the very next play. Kinney bulled across from the one.
All that remained was for Brownson's crew to shake out the kinks and send Hughes across in the final minutes.
Minnesota's power pair wasn't over-publicized. Mayer ran for 90 yards, Carter for 70. But Tagge ran for 82 and Green 62 and Hughes 54 and Kinney 49, and you just couldn't stop Nebraska.
Ken Geddes had his best day for the Blackshirts, figuring in 14 tackles.
Nebraska built a lot of confidence in this game — confidence that will be in great demand for the league opener at Missouri this week.
|Yards per carry||3.9||5.7|
Nebraska is 25-32 all-time against Minnesota.
|Texas A&M||Sept. 27|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 25|
|Iowa State||Nov. 8|
|Kansas State||Nov. 15|
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