Lincoln — On a drab, drizzly day that would make a scoreless tie apropos, Nebraska turned loose an offense with both flash and might Saturday against Minnesota.
Fifty-four points the Cornhuskers put on the scoreboards at the north end of Memorial Stadium. The first six came on an 85-yard march right at the throat of the Gopher defense. It was ball control at its best, absorbing 7:05.
The last was a 66-yard pass from a No. 3 quarterback to a split end who is better known as a quarter-mile. In between, the regular quarterback who was supposed to be protected was running the ends and scoring, a freshman was running for the longest touchdown in 37 games and a new punt returner was hauling one back 67 yards.
With its quick-striking forces showing off the most versatility in the 3-1 campaign, the Nebraska offense voted to give the game ball to the Cornhusker defense because the lights on the Minnesota side of the board remained unlit.
The 54-0 was the worst bush-wacking of a Minnesota team in 10 straight Nebraska victories since 1960. The Gophers are calling it quits now until the series resumes in 1983.
The loss, which dropped Minnesota to 2-2, prompted Gopher Coach Cal Stoll to moan lamely that his team had brought the "wrong kind of shoes," and his players had trouble slipping on the wet AstroTurf.
The Gophers wouldn't have been in it if they had brought along the shoe factory.
The Nebraska Blackshirt defense and their replacements, who had not shut out an opponent in 20 games, so dominated the Gopher veer-T offerings that Minnesota did not record a first down until 9:21 remained in the game when No. 2 quarterback Marc Trestman passed 15 yards to Vince Fuller. It was another 2:06 before the visitors crossed into the Nebraska's side of the field.
By then, the lower units among the 68 Nebraska participants were getting in their licks, and many of the 76,408 who made up the seventh largest Memorial Stadium crowd were heading for home.
After the nation's second most potent scoring offense — raised its game average to 46 points, the Blackshirts trooped into the locker room wearing smug smiles, while their leader, Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin, lugged the game ball.
Minnesota bass Stoll should have been given an assist, Kiffin said.
"Cal Stoll said in the paper the other day that our defense is a shade worse than last year. That went on our bulletin board. I think he'd better check the films of this game," Kiffin said.
"We didn't get a shutout last year. The first half had to be one of the finest defensive jobs I've ever been around. I don't think we've ever had such hustle and pursuit.
"This is a hungry bunch of kids — this no-name defense of ours. But there should be two game balls — one for the defense and one for the offense. The greatest defense in the world is sitting on the bench and watching the clock run."
Coach Stoll "won't forget our defense," chimed sophomore defensive tackle Mike Fultz. "Coach Kiffin told us at the half that Minnesota hadn't had a first down. That kind of fired us up."
"What Stoll said gave us incentive. We wanted the shutout," said end Bob Martin, who was nursing an injured knee.
The offense was just as pleased, aid Capt. Dave Humm. "A lot of people were starting to question our defense after the Wisconsin game (20-21 loss). I wouldn't have wanted to play for Minnesota today for anything," Humm said.
The senior quarterback drove his team from the opening kick-off 85 yards in 16 plays, getting the touchdown on a six-yard pass to fullback Tony Davis. That gave Humm 33 touchdown passes and pulled him out of the tie with Jerry Tagge for the Husker career record.
But it was the fourth touchdown that made him almost delirious. It was a 15-yard run by Humm. Yes, run. Yes, Humm.
Oft maligned as a runner and specially protected by his teammates last week because of hip injury, Humm carried five times for 36 yards and turned in some nifty footwork on his touchdown on a pass-run option.
He took the second option when his receivers were covered, split between two defenders when it appeared he was trapped and hoofed for the flag in the left corner.
"One guy just fell down I think. I don't want to say my eyes were closed, but I don't remember exactly what happened. I think Don Westbrook blocked one guy. I was going nuts in the end zone. Somebody grabbed me and was throwing me around.
"I've scored on quarterback sneaks before, but I don't think anybody counts those."
He later ran for a two-point conversion.
Humm also hit five of the 10 passes for 56 yards. Three went to fullback Davis who had his best day of the season while leading a multitude of backs who contributed to the 402-yard rushing total.
Tony toted the ball 18 times for 97 yards, but he said: "I don't care if I carry it at all if we win." His pass receptions, he said, were the result of coaching strategy designed to take advantage of Minnesota's effort to stop Nebraska's wingback counter sweep.
The Gophers did a good job of shutting off that segment of the Husker attack, but "their linebackers didn't pursue very well. We thought we could hit that pass when we ran it off the counter sweep play action," Davis said.
That and about everything else the Huskers did on offense went well while building up a total offense edge of 524 yards to 64.
Except for a Humm lost fumble at the Gopher 12 and a Terry Luck-Ritch Bahe pass completion that was just out of the end zone, it could have been a lot worse.
Luck directed a touchdown drive on his next series.
Sophomore Dave Gillespie, who started his first game at I-back, turned in a creditable job with 20 carries for 77 yards and touchdown shots of two and five yards.
Soph fullback Gary Higgs added 52 on 10 tries.
Freshman Monte Anthony, who impressed with his power while leading Nebraska backs against Northwestern the week before, showed other winning traits against Minnesota while cranking 86 yards out of eight calls.
He took a pitchout from Humm at the Minnesota 48 in the second quarter, ran out of the arms of freshman safety Tommie Ash near the line of scrimmage and shed George Adzick at the 20 en route to the goal.
Anthony's 48-yarder was the longest scrimmage run for a touchdown by a Nebraska back since Bill Olds raced 67 against Texas A&M in 1971.
A couple of spindly youngsters who look out of place among their bulky teammates provided the other thrills from afar.
Jimmy Burrow, a Mississippian who plays a cornerback when he isn't playing punt returner, got his first chance as the No. 1 deep back after earlier serving as the short receiver.
Burrow caught the Gophers off guard when he grabbed a bouncing ball and fled down the sideline in front of his teammates. Only punter Frank Mosco, whose foul claim after he was decked by Dave Redding was disallowed, had a chance at Burrow. He got a hand on a shifty hip, but that was all.
The coup de grace was a perfect high-arching pass from Ear Everett, who was dropped from the backup quarterback spot during the week, to split end Chuck Malito for 66 yards.
Malito, who runs the 440 in 47 seconds and is the Big Eight champ in that event, was a couple of steps behind Gopher safety Ash, who the previous week was the Big 10 defensive player of the week.
Ash, who wears number zero, had about that much chance of catching Malito, who had requested the No. 89 his friend Frosty Anderson wore while doing the game thing three times to Minnesota last year.
Everett, Nebraska's running quarterback, said his passing stock "went up about 100 percent."
With a passing quarterback who was running and a running quarterback who was passing, Minnesota was in for a long afternoon.
Its own sterling quarterback, Big 10 total offense leader Tony Dungy, never did play, and Rick Upchurch, the highly-touted halfback managed a meager 19 yards on 14 carries — and he was his team's leading rusher.
Minnesota had little better success passing. Starter Steve Olsen saw his first pass intercepted by Wonder Monds. Monds also had his hands on Olsen's second, and Husker cornerback Dave Butterfield dropped his third.
Trestman came in during the fourth quarter and completed three passes against the reserves.
But the Blackshirts' shutout was never in jeopardy, and the one-sided outing in the final non-conference game was good for the confidence with Missouri showing up here next week to open the Big Eight schedule.
|Yards per carry||0.9||5.4|
Nebraska is 25-32 all-time against Minnesota.
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 26|
|Iowa State||Nov. 9|
|Kansas State||Nov. 16|
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