STILLWATER, Okla. — Nebraska, its No. 1 banners flying proudly until the final two minutes, disposed of Oklahoma State Saturday with methodical ease, 41-13.
By the time the Husker reserves took over in the final quarter, the Blackshirts once again had come up with quality performance.
The defensive unit took the play away from the usually high voltage offensive machine much of the way, as the Huskers won their 17th straight game — a Husker career high for a Bob Devaney-coached team.
Oklahoma State finished with 206 yards, but when the No. 1 Blackshirts departed after three quarters, the Cowboys had managed only 68 yards in total offense.
In addition, the defensive specialists had scored once on a pass interception, a 27-yard return by Dave Mason, set up a touchdown march on a fumble recovery and sprung Johnny Rodgers on a record-setting 92-yard punt return.
That's yeoman work in any league.
Rodgers, who scored once on a six-yard pass from Jerry Tagge, established two Nebraska records with his darting, high-stepping punt runback.
Pat Morell sprung him early on the dash and Bill Janssen served as his escort the final 25 as he danced, skipped and twisted his way past frustrated Cowboy defenders.
His run broke the record of the longest punt return set at 84 yards by Pat Fischer against Oklahoma State in 1960.
The Big Eight's one-game punt return yardage record also fell under the flying feet of the Omaha junior. The old record was 149 yards by Roger Wehrle of Missouri against Iowa State in 1968.
His one-game total of 170 yards on seven returns shattered the record of 133 yards by Larry Wachholtz against Utah State in 1966.
Rodgers, who got a call at his motel before the game warning him that Cowboy flanker Dick Graham would outplay him, had an outstanding day all around.
Rodgers vs. Graham was strictly no contest until the first Blackshirt unit departed. Rodgers caught three passes for 33 yards and gained 29 yards in three carries from scrimmage.
Rodgers' punt return came with 14:05 remaining and he got a rest the remainder of the game. He deserved the respite. He had run his season touchdown total to 11 and his career output to 22.
Victory No. 17 in a row is the longest since Nebraska had a 27-game string in 1904. In addition, the Huskers head into the Colorado game Saturday with a 26-game string interrupted only by the USC tie.
Oklahoma State, playing without soph quarterback Brent Blackman, who underwent an appendectomy after the game, was nailed 13 times for losses by the aroused Blackshirts.
The Huskers, hoping for a third straight shutout, protected the honor until only 1:52 remained. The Cowboys got two consolation touchdowns — but rest assured that Colorado scouts hadn't lost any respect for the N.U. defenders.
Willie Harper, the Toledo Terror, was in on nine tackles — totaling 16 yards in losses. Larry Jacobson and Janssen both had three stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Mason, the sticky fingered defender from Green Bay, got his second interception touchdown of the season and Jimmy Anderson, another secondary specialist from Wisconsin, intercepted two.
Sub cornerback Gary Hollstein gave his Rushville, Neb., followers their time to cheer with another theft.
Spurred by standing ovations for stopping the Huskers, the Cowboys three times halted N.U. drives in the first quarter.
But the fourth time the Nebraskans got possession, they set in sail for scoring territory. They needed only one third-down play scored as they marched 76 yards in nine plays.
Jeff Kinney, now only two touchdowns short of the school record of 28 shared by Joe Orduna and Bobby Reynolds, capped the drive. He cut through a yawning hole in the right side of his line and dashed 25 yards with 1:33 left in the opening quarter.
The second score came when Mason picked off a deflected pass caused by the brutal N.U. rush on Tony Pounds. Mason made it to the goal with a head-long dive and Rich Sanger converted for a 14-0 lead.
Only brilliant punting by Cowboy Jim Benien, who averaged almost 52 yards on five punts, kept Nebraska from doing more scoring. But the Huskers were in no mood for dilly-dallying when they got the ball on their own 11 midway in the second quarter.
They had the touchdown in just eight plays — with Jerry List being rewarded with his first touchdown of his N.U. career.
List used blocks by a couple of alternate side receivers, Frosty Anderson and Glen Garson, to break away on a 42-yard scoring play. Tagge had spotted the tight end from Bay City, Mich., all alone over the middle.
When the teams left the field at halftime with a 21-0 eyesore on the board for the noisy OSU followers, there was little doubt about the final outcome. The Cowboys never had been inside N.U. territory.
Nebraska had built a 14-3 margin in first downs and one first and ten by the Cowboys came as a result of a pass interference penalty.
But Nebraska was not about to rest on its laurels. It scored twice in the third quarter and had a 34-0 lead.
Tagge directed the Huskers 52 yards in just four plays the second time Nebraska got possession. The final 12 came on a Kinney run. Sanger, who converted five of six, missed this time.
Bill Kosch's fumble recovery on Graham's first pass reception for a three-yard gain squelched OSU's first trip in Nebraska territory. Kosch got the bobble at the 30.
Ten plays later Nebraska owned a 34-0 bulge, with Rodgers glue-fingering a six-yard Tagge pass over the middle as the N.U. quarterback completed five straight aerials on the 70 yard march.
Some 3,500 Nebraskans in the turnout had little to cheer for after Rodgers insulated the Husker edge with his kick return. But they had been richly rewarded for three quarters.
Graham, who caught seven passes for 149 yards against Nebraska last year, made only two catches for 17 yards the first three quarters and he had been blanked the first half.
He finished with six catches for 73 yards and was mainly responsible for the two late touchdowns. He also nearly broke a kickoff return after Nebraska's fourth score. Only a desperation dive by Kosch slowed Graham down enough for a wave of N.U. defenders to catch the Okie fiver.
Bill Heilman, senior fullback who hadn't played for three periods, made a corkscrew dive from the one to break a string of Nebraska shutout quarters at 12 with 1:52 to play.
Heilman, who had carried the ball only 10 times all season, wound up with 45 yards in 12 carries to lead the Oklahoma State rushers.
The Cowboys had another score on the red-faced junior Blackshirts. An onside kick gave OSU the ball on the 44. Graham had a 23-yard reception and soph Steve Elliott dashed 21 yards for the touchdown.
Enough was enough of that onside kick business and the Huskers swarmed on the ball at the 50 to put a merciful ending to Nebraska's seventh win of the year.
Kinney, as has been his habit most of the way, led Husker ground gainers to 205 yards with 73 in 14 carries. Gary Dixon, Kinney's stand-in from Ventura, Calif., had 62 yards.
Tagge, bothered by harassing Cowboy defense the first half, finished with 13 completions of 22 passes for 161 yards. They nailed Tagge four times for losses of 38 yards.
|Yards per carry||2.3||4.0|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.
|Texas A&M||Sept. 25|
|Utah State||Oct. 2|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 23|
|Iowa State||Nov. 6|
|Kansas State||Nov. 13|
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