EL PASO, Texas — Nebraska's mean Cornhuskers kicked the Georgia Bulldog to death in the first quarter Saturday, then proceeded to a joyous 45-6 victory before a Sun Bowl crowd of 31,723.
Georgia was humiliated.
CBS-TV privately grumbled about having to compete nationally with a show that lacked suspense.
But for the Big Eight Conference co-champions from Nebraska, it was a sunny afternoon of unmitigated fun and glory.
The Cornhuskers took not only the victory, but outrushed Georgia by 190-55, outpassed Georgia by 165-130, intercepted six passes and recovered two enemy fumbles.
They swept the outstanding player awards, Paul Rogers being named top back for his four field goals and cannon-like kickoffs, and linebacker Jerry Murtaugh being hailed as No. 1 lineman of the game.
Murtaugh added to already impressive credentials for a 1970 All-American bid. The junior from Omaha made 12 tackles and assisted on three others. He deflected two passes. He set up one touchdown with a fumble recovery and opened the door for another by thundering 31 yards with an interception.
There may be detractors who say Nebraska had a pushover in a Southeaster Conference club that showed only a 5-4-1 record.
Such knockers should be advised that Nebraska registered the most points and compiled the largest winning margin of any Georgia foe in 18 years.
It was the most resounding bowl defeat ever suffered by Georgia in 13 post-season appearances. And it was the widest margin of victory in 35 years of Sun Bowl history.
Georgia's 55 yards rushing compared with its previous season low of 69 against highly regarded Auburn. The latter had an 8-2 season and outscored Georgia, 16-3.
When Nebraska's proud Blackshirts forced a Georgia punt shortly after the opening kickoff, N.U. drove to the foe's 35, then settled for a 50-yard field goal by Rogers, who totaled 15 points for the day.
Still in the opening quarter, and with the slight advantage of a five-mile-per-hour wind, the junior from Rock Rapids, Ia., kicked field goals of 32, 42, and 37 yards.
He handily wiped out the Sun Bowl record of two field goals and beat the N.U. one-game record of three set by tackle Vic Halligan against Iowa in 1914.
Raising his two-year field goal total to 17, he broke the Big Eight three-year career mark of 16, established by Charles Durkee, Oklahoma State, and Frank Rogers, Colorado, both in the period 1963-65.
Rogers' kickoffs, most of which landed outside the end zone, helped keep Georgia at a field-position disadvantage throughout the game. Ten times Georgia had to start an offensive sequence from its 20.
Nebraska inserted a touchdown between Rogers' second and third fielders. Clipping on a punt return by Guy Ingles made Nebraska scrimmage from its 28. But starting quarterback Van Brownson didn't let that faze him for a second.
On first down, the rookie from Shenandoah, Ia., passed to Ingles for 45 yards. Then he shot the ball to big Jim McFarland for 13. And then he connected with Larry Frost for five.
Sophomore Jeff Kinney picked up the final 10 yards, bolting through the left side. The blocking was so superb, tackle Paul Topliff got to watch a good share of the run from his vantage point in the end zone.
The six-pointer by McCook's Kinney was only the third Georgia had yielded in first-quarter actio nall year.
Chuck Heard, a 6-foot-5 end, spoiled Brownson's flip to Kinney for an attempted two-point bonus.
Aside from Rogers' 15-point total, Nebraska was eminently fair in distributing scoring honors.
There was the touchdown for soph Kinney, one for junior Dan Schneiss and one for senior Mike Green. Plus one apiece for the two soph signal-callers, Brownson and Jerry Tagge.
Brownson turned in one of his finest days as a passer, completing 11 of 18 for 109 yards. Tagge hit six of 12 for 53. Georgia's two interceptions were at the expense of Kinney and sub quarterback Tony Dvorsak.
Eight Huskers took part in the catching bee, with the feisty Ingles and husky Schneiss tucking away four apiece.
In run-catch total yardage, Schneiss set the pace with 101 yards, followed by Kinney with 66 and Green with 59.
Those measures of offensive success came against the best part of the Georgia game—a defensive platoon that led the Southeastern Conference in pass defense and was third in overall defense.
Another point of interest: Georgia had given up only 12 touchdowns from scrimmage in 10 regular-season games. Nebraska collected five in 60 minutes and Coach Bob Devaney still made liberal use of his reserves the second half.
Nonetheless, Georgia had a defensive giant in linebacker Chip Wisdom, credited with 17 tackles and nine assists, and All-American guard Steve Greer, who took part in 16 tackles.
But on the subject of defense, a reporter must, of course, turn to the Husker Blackshirts. They had another riotous day.
For eyewitnesses here, it may take decades before there's any fading of the picture of ends Sherwin Jarmon and Mike Wynn, and tackles Bob Liggett and Dave Walline charging in to foul up Georgia plays before they could unfold.
Paul Gilbert could, complete only a third of his 30 passes while Mike Cavan, Georgia's usual quarterback starter, watched glumly from an apparent doghouse on the sideline.
Joining the N.U. front four and linebacker Murtaugh in the defensive fun were assorted manhandlers such as "monster" Al Larson, 12 tackles and two assists plus a pass theft, and interceptors Dana Stephenson, Jim Anderson, Dave Morock and Pat Morell.
Interceptions by Stephenson and Anderson led to Rogers' last two field goals of the first quarter.
Georgia blanked Nebraska in the second period, so the half-time score stood at 18-0.
Had the game ended right there, that would have been the year's largest margin of victory over Georgia. One thing Georgia could unhesitatingly boast about coming into the Sun Bowl: Never was it severely beaten even when the injury toll was highest.
The largest differential had been 14 points — in Tennessee's 17-3 victory.
Murtaugh captured the ball for Nebraska on the Georgia 42 in the opening minutes of the third period.
Green, Frost and Kinney did the footwork and a Brownson-Kinney pass helped N.U. hurry to the seven-yard line. Brownson fired the ball to Green, who made the juggling one-handed save, somehow kept his balance and knifed into the end zone.
With Rogers' placement, the tally was 25-0.
Three plays after the next kickoff, Murtaugh stole a Gilbert pass on the Georgia 32 and hauled it to the one-yard line. Brownson promptly bolted through the N.U. right side to a touchdown.
For the nearly 7,000 Husker rooters in the stands, this was becoming an unbelievably fine afternoon of entertainment. Remember, Nebraska had been beaten in its three most recent bowl tests.
The stubborn Georgians hadn't yielded a fourth-quarter touchdown in six games. That came in a 25-17 conquest by Mississippi, one of the powerful Rebels' lower-scoring games.
But a Nebraska drive was underway as action here moved into the final period. It was being carried out by the No. 2 motorists, with Tagge, Schneiss, Jeff Hughes and Rogers in the backfield.
The drive started on the N.U. 33. A piling penalty against Georgia helped fatten a 16-yard run by Tagge. The invasion was saved at the four when Frank Patrick recovered a Tagge fumble.
Three plays later, Schneiss followed 272-pound tackle Donnie McGhee to a touchdown from a yard out.
The only seniors on that striking force were Patrick and center Joe Buda.
At about this time, a group of Nebraska rooters confiscated and destroyed a large sign unwisely proclaiming: "Penn State No. 1."
Georgia still was struggling. Failing to muster a first down, Spike Jones got off a 52-yard punt. Ingles had the antidote: A 29-yard return.
A few minutes later, aided by a penalty that required a second and deeper punt by Schneiss, the SEC team put its only scoring march in motion from the Nebraska 47.
Seven plays against the No. 2 Blackshirt platoon (with the exception of Wynn at left end), put the ball on the six. Gilbert then rode over his right tackle for a touchdown.
Momentarily inspired, Georgia tried a short kickoff. Sure-handed Paul Topliff took command of the ball for Nebraska at the N.U. 49. Tagge steered the Husker seconds to a touchdown in seven plays. The big gain was a 23-yard gallop by Schneiss. The grand finale was Tagge's two-yard run through the Husker right side.
Rogers' foot helped make it 45-6.
One could recall that Nebraska's seniors in early September dedicated themselves to a season that would earn a bowl trip. Saturday, with the temperature zooming to 70 by halftime, they were able to soak up a lot of sun and satisfaction.
Their final record is 9-2, giving Devaney his sixth season in eight that produced nine or more victories. And in 80 years of Nebraska football, there have been few if any teams that deserved more respect than this one.
|Yards per carry||1.4||3.6|
Nebraska is 2-1 all-time against Georgia.
|Texas A&M||Sept. 27|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 25|
|Iowa State||Nov. 8|
|Kansas State||Nov. 15|
Nebraska hasn't played any other games on Dec. 20.
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