NORMAN, Okla. — You couldn't tell the Heisman Trophy candidates without a program here Saturday while Nebraska was smashing the Oklahoma football team, 44-14, to complete its drive to the Big Eight co-championship.
Halfback Jeff Kinney, Nebraska sophomore from McCook, scored three touchdowns and apssed for another. Quarterback Van Brownson, Nebraska sophomore from Shenandoah, Ia., directed six point-producing drives, plunged for one touchdown and passed for another.
Meanwhile, the Blackshirt platoon was brusquely halting two notable streaks by Oklahoma senior Steve Owens:
— For the first time in 19 games, including the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, Owens failed to net at least 100 yards rushing. He was held to 71 in 21 carries.
— For the first time in 16 games, Owens failed to score. Both Kinney, with 127 yards in 37 trips, and the gallivanting Brownson, 82 in 11, outyarded Oklahoma's All-American tailback.
And how sweet it was for Coach Bob Devaney, who had failed to register a victory here in four previous appearances.
During this supremely satisfying effort, as a crowd of 53,500 watched in disbelief, his Cornhuskers ran up Nebraska's highest score and greatest victory margin of the series since the 44-6 triumph by Ernie Bearg's 1928 team.
Nebraska's most decisive conquest of Oklahoma was 44-0 in 1921.
Setting themselves up as worthy foes for Georgia in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 20, the Huskers rolled to 22 first downs and a gluttonous 437-278 advantage in total yardage.
Oklahoma had averaged 411.4. yards per game. The Blackshirt pace was set by junior linebacker Jerry Murtaugh, who took part in 10 tackles — enough to break the N.U. season record set by two-time All-American Wayne Meylan in 1967.
Meylan totaled 119 tackles. Saturday's production gave Omaha North grad Murtaugh a grand total of 121 for the season.
Another school record fell to placekicker Paul Rogers, who converted five times for a season tab of 24x25 and .970 percentage. Because of a bad snap, there was no kick after one touchdown.
Rogers also contributed a 26-yard field goal, but missed on a pair of 59-yard attempts.
The thorough domination of Oklahoma, which saw Nebraska's hard-blocking, hard-running offense account for 95 plays to the losers' 74, gave N.U. a regular season record of 8-2 and a conference reading of 6-1 to match Missouri's strong club.
Missouri defeated Nebraska by 17-7 but suffered a 24-31 loss to Colorado, which fell to the Huskers by 20-7. Thus, the co-titlists are a well-matched pair.
Not the least of the gridiron, bon-bons being savored by Nebraska Saturday night was the resounding attonement for last year's 47-0 drubbing by the Sooners. Devaney had called that the low point of his N.U. coaching experience.
This day of redemption was warm—the temperature rose to the mid-70s—and typically windy for Norman. Coming straight out of the south, the wind was 26 miles per hour with gusts up to 35 at kickoff.
The wind was a major factor as the six-point favorite Sooners got off to a snappy start. They won the toss and chose to have the wind at their backs.
The kickoff landed out of the end zone, forcing Nebraska to start from its 20. And what a dreary start.
On first down, end Jim McFarland dropped a Brownson pass. Mike Green got nowhere as linebacker Steve Casteel belted him in a head-on collision. On third down, with Oklahoma in a 10-1 defense, Kevin Grady and Vince LaRosa swarmed over Brownson for a 10-yard loss.
So Danny Schneiss punted into the wind. The ball soared high then made a bizarre straight drop to the N.U. 25 and rolled back to the 18. It was a four-yard punt.
Oklahoma immediately scored, with quarterback Jack Mildren nipping inside his left end, angling to the sideline and darting into the end zone untouched. With Bruce Derr's accurate placement, Oklahoma had a 7-0 lead with only 1:27 elapsed.
On Nebraska's third possession, the offense was put in a hole by Monte Johnson's 49-yard punt, which landed on the Husker one and was downed by Nelson Todd on the four.
Runs by Kinney and Green plus a Brownson-Kinney pass enabled the Huskers to nudge their way out to the 30. Then the gangling Brownson came up with a hypodermic play.
Trapped well back of the line, he somehow eluded the wave of tacklers and galloped to his right. He picked up blocks as he neared the sideline, fancied his way back of a small group of bodyguards, then cut left and headed back across the field. He roamed for what seemed like minutes, finally was pulled down by safety Rick Hetherington after a 30-yard advance to the Oklahoma 40.
Kinney made three, a Brownson-Kinney pass added six and Kinney plunged for a first down on the 25. Next, a block by Green opened the gate and Kinney zoomed all the way to the one, where Hetherington again made the save.
Brownson lunged into the end zone over blocks by Gale Williams and Glenn Patterson. Rogers' conversion tied the score.
Moments later, Mildren's pass was deflected by Randy Reeves and snatched out of the air by ever-ready Al Larson, who ran 18 yards to the O.U. 27.
Aided especially by the blocking of Paul Topliff, Larry Frost and Dan Schneiss, Kinney got through the N.U. right side for three yards and a touchdown five plays later.
Then the Blackshirts really got tough.
Before the period was over, Murtaugh forced Owens to part with the ball, which Dana Stephenson grabbed, and Stephenson intercepted a Mildred pass.
That was Stephenson's seventh interception of the year, matching Larry Wachholtz's one-season record and breaking the latter's school-career record of 13.
Stephenson's theft gave Nebraska the ball on the Sooner 30. In a fourth-and-two jam at the nine-yard line early in the second quarter, Rogers pushed the count to 17-7 with his fielder from the 16.
On the very next N.U. possession he missed from the 49. The kick was long enough (with the wind) but slightly wide to the left.
At the half, the score still was 17-7. And you could hear this comment: "If the Nebraska defense is as good as it's supposed to be — and as good as it has looked so far, this game is over."
The defense was just that good. When Oklahoma drove 67 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, Mildren passing to Geoffrey Nordgren from the 16 the No. 2 Blackshirt unit was holding the fort.
The Nebraska offense had a lot of unfinished business to take care of the second half.
Line blocking was dynamic as Nebraska barreled 56 yards to score the first time it got the ball in the third quarter. Patterson and Topliff and Williams and Carl Ashman and Bob Newton were soundly whipping their defensive foes.
Except for an 18-yard pass, Brownson to Frost, it was all ground work, Kinney charging across for the final 10.
Incomplete passes foiled the next opportunity; that's when Rogers again tried a kick from the O.U. 49.
But the following possession brought seven more points. Nebraska had to go 54 yards following a punt. On first down, Brownson blazed around left end for 29 yards.
With the ball on the seven four plays later, Kinney took a pitchback and passed to Guy Ingles in the end zone.
Ingles, 5-9 has whipped many a larger man. This time the defender was 5-9 Glenn King. No problem. Ingles took the ball for a touchdown.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Kinney was short on a fourth-down plunge from the Oklahoma five. Ho hum. One minute later, Larson captured another Owens' fumble, this time on the Sooner nine.
On fourth down and goal to go from the seven, Brownson passed to Kinney, swinging across the middle. The rookie caught the ball just as he wheeled into the end zone.
That was Kinney's third reception of a busy day, and raised his own school record for one season to 41 catches.
After Oklahoma scored on the seconds, Jerry Tagge took over a makeshift backfield and quarterbacked an 80-yard retaliation drive that sent Jeff Hughes shooting across the goal line from the six.
Marksman Tagge completed one pass to Frost for 30 yards, one to McFarland for 12 and one to Hughes to 22 en route to that capper on a memorable day.
To many longtime N.U. followers, those who have experienced anguish in Norman in other years the Sun Bowl necessarily will be anti-climax. Nothing can beat a Sooner scalp on the belt of a Big Eight champion.
|Yards per carry||2.8||3.5|
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
|Texas A&M||Sept. 27|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 25|
|Iowa State||Nov. 8|
|Kansas State||Nov. 15|
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