MANHATTAN, Kan. — The agonizing wait is on for Nebraskans. But for the Huskers the looking ahead may have started a bit early.
True, the Huskers whipped a hard-hitting Kansas State team, 44-17, Saturday in what has become typical of their methodical fashion.
The Nebraskans took a 14-0 lead on marches of 80 and 94 yards the first two times they had the ball, but they never really matched that early fury thereafter.
Kansas Staters have no doubts about which team, Oklahoma or Nebraska, should be favored Thanksgiving Day.
The K-State fans drowned out some 10,000 Big Red followers who chanted “We’re No. 1” during the fourth quarter action.
Kansas State, pummeled by Oklahoma, 75-28, four games back, made it an ouchy afternoon for the Huskers.
“They (Kansas State) probably hit us harder than anybody has yet,” said N.U. assistant Tom Osborne.
The wait for T-Time (title game at Oklahoma Thanksgiving) will suit Osborne fine, he said.
“We got some people hurt, like Jeff Kinney and Carl Johnson, and I’m sure there will be some others with minor aches,” Osborne said. “We can use 11 or 12 days to get our players ready.”
Although Osborne conceded the Huskers might have looked ahead to the title game, there were bright spots.
Jerry Tagge, the artistic thrower from Green Bay, put 20 more notches on the completion log as he threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
Two of his aerials went to Johnny Rodgers, who surpassed the school record of nine season touchdown receptions set by Clarence Swanson in 1921.
Johnny the Jet picked off 10 passes, to give him 10 payoff passes this season. His yardage total was a respectable 125.
Nebraska’s defense against the rush shut off Kansas State with a minus one yard the first quarter and finished the game by yielding only 57 in 34 attempts by the fired-up Wildcats.
Lefty Dennis Morrison, in the face of a difficult rush most of the afternoon, still displayed the best passing effort against N.U. this season.
Morrison, the California junior, completed 23 of 46 passes for 179 yards against the league’s best pass defense. The 17-point total, all against the No. 1 Blackshirts, was the most scored on N.U. this season.
But the 236-yard total recorded by Kansas State might give Husker followers solace in making comparisons.
Kansas State collected over 550 yards in its shellacking from the Oklahomans.
Kinney, who carried only once the last half because of sore ribs, had 98 yards in 19 carries — his big contributions coming in the opening march following the kickoff.
The McCook blaster accounted for 40 yards in nine carries on the drive that wound up with Rodgers making a leaping catch of a high Tagge pass just a foot or so inside the end zone.
Nebraska’s next foray covered 94 yards in 17 plays, with Tagge the key man in the workman-like machine.
Tagge completed five of six passes, including three clutch third-down completions. Gary Dixon took a pitchout and sailed around the left side to score from the five two plays after Johnson, a sharp-blocking Husker tackle, limped off with a knee injury.
About this time there were those in the sellout crowd who began making comparisons between the Huskers and Oklahoma, which scored on 11 of 12 possessions against K-State.
But the Wildcats came back with a 62-yard, 14-play scoring safari of their own. Morrison picked Henry Childs as his target. The sophomore end from Georgia had worked free between Jim Branch and Bill Kosch for an eight-yard reception.
Bob Terrio, the Husker leader on defense with four tackles and six assists, blasted through to block the point after touchdown try.
Only seconds later Kansas State was in scoring business again. The strong south wind caught the kickoff, swirled it back toward the onrushing Wildcats and David Brown got possession at the N.U. 28.
The Blackshirts were penalized twice for being offside, but K-State was unable to capitalize. Bill Janssen, the rangy tackle from Grand Forks, N.D., made the key play, a tackle of Morrison for an eight-yard loss. The Wildcats settled for a 34-yard field goal by John Goerger.
That may have riled the Huskers. Imagine, they were faced with a mere 14-9 margin with only 8:43 to go in the second quarter. They have become accustomed to better living.
So Tagge & Co. took off, starting this time from the N.U. 21. Nine plays did it. The big bite came on a Tagge-Rodgers aerial for 30 yards.
Kinney took it in from the one, hesitating slightly at a clogged hole at the left side and then leaping over the pile. Sanger, who converted six straight points after touchdown to run his total for the year to 48 of 53, then booted his first kickoff into the end zone.
Two plays lost the Wildcats eight yards and then Larry Jacobson, Rich Glover and Janssen pressured Morrison as he dropped back to pass from the end zone. Glover got to him first, forcing the fumble, and the ball sailed past the back line for a safety before Janssen could snatch it.
Unrelenting, the Huskers remained at this point. They took the free kick and helped Kinney return from his 35 to the KSU 43.
Woody Cox, the stumpy senior split end from Grosse Point, Mich., made a diving catch of a 30-yard Tagge pass on first down. Four plays later, Dixon tailgated guard Keith Wortman over the goal from the two. It was 30-9 as the Huskers’ burst harvested 16 points in the final 5:37 of the second quarter.
Stymied the first two times they had the ball in the third quarter the Huskers struck suddenly the third time. Tagge and Cox teamed on a 56-yarder for the longest strike of the day.
Caught up with its own effectiveness, Nebraska must have overlooked the fact that K-State wasn’t conceding anything. With fourth down and inches at their own 35, the Huskers sent Dixon whirling into the line instead of punting. No gain.
Surprisingly, the Cats stayed on the ground for all but eight yards, scoring six plays into the fourth quarter to close to within 37-17.
Nebraska’s last score was set up at the KSU 33 by Willie Harper’s interception.
It was the only theft of the day for Nebraska, which had stolen 23 in nine previous victories.
Rodgers, in breaking Swanson’s record, made one of his patented, leaping, belly-button grabs at the goal line for a 16-yard score.
Only six minutes remained and that brought the No. 2 units in for mop-up operations, the shortest stints the Nebraska reserves have had all season.
Though Morrison completed seven passes in the closing minutes, all he managed to do was pad his total yardage to 179, highest against the Blackshirt defenders this year.
But by that time (and probably long before) there were other things for Husker players to mull over — like trying to extend their unbeaten streak to 30 and add another Big Eight title to the N.U. trophy case.
|Yards per carry||1.7||3.8|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
|Texas A&M||Sept. 25|
|Utah State||Oct. 2|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 23|
|Iowa State||Nov. 6|
|Kansas State||Nov. 13|
Nebraska has played 17 games on Nov. 13. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group