LINCOLN — As hard as they tried to concentrate, Nebraska's football players kept getting distracted Saturday.
About the time they were going a touchdown up on Kansas State, the Memorial Stadium public address announcer would tell them Kansas was leading Oklahoma 7-0, in the first quarter.
Then Wildcat halfback L.T. Edwards would start looking something like Joe Washington, and Oklahoma's Selmon brothers would suddenly appear in the K-State defensive line. Purple would turn to Sooner red.
Back to business, Nebraska 14-0, 21-0, Oklahoma 21, Kansas 14, Nebraska 28-0, Oklahoma 31-14.
So it went before 76,188 on a gorgeous fall afternoon which was perfect for football and daydreaming.
Nebraska played its favorite three-quarter time tune while winning its fifth straight game, 35-7, and keeping one ear cocked for scores from Lawrence, Kan., where Oklahoma finally won, 45-14.
Kansas State wasn't supposed to provide much more than company until unbeaten Oklahoma comes to Lincoln Saturday to settle the Big Eight championship.
And Nebraska, when it tended to current business, was obviously sending Kansas State on its way to a seventh straight defeat. When it was over, the Huskers marched routinely to their dressing quarters. Then somebody mentioned Oklahoma.
It was all right then. They could concentrate fully on the Sooners.
"I really didn't think we played a real good football game. We had a problem all week getting them up for this game," Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said.
"Kansas State's record isn't spectacular, but we could tell looking at the films that they played about as well as Iowa State, and they were better than they were last year."
And Vince Gibson, the K-State coach, pulled out a new trick, abandoning his normal veer-T offense for a power I formation for the first time.
"That's something we've been seeing a lot of lately (Iowa State and Colorado used it the last two weeks)," Osborne said, "but we had trouble with it. We made some adjustments at the half and did better the second half."
Kansas State actually out-yarded Nebraska 172-148, the first half, while trailing 14-0.
"We did it to take some pressure off the quarterback," Gibson said. He was referring to freshman Arthur Bailey, who was a day-long pest for Nebraska's defenders with his sprint-outs and scrambling on pass plays.
"He (Bailey) is going to be a honey before he's through," Gibson said. "But there's so much pressure on the quarterback on the beer option because the defensive end isn't blocked and he has to read the end. In the power I you can run the same play and the end is blocked."
Gibson, whose future has been the subject of extensive speculation in the Big Eight area, was smiling and almost pleased with the outcome.
"We still can't play with those guys. Nebraska just has an outstanding football team, outstanding balance," he said.
But his team controlled the ball the first half. The Wildcats were held on downs at the Nebraska 31 and lost a fumble to Blackshirt Capt. Tom Ruud at the Nebraska 17.
But it was the back upfield at the Kansas State 30 that the outcome was probably decided.
Kansas State had fourth down with a few inches to make on the last play of the first quarter. His team was trailing, 7-0.
"Any team should be able to make three inches," Gibson reasoned. It was a guts call, the kind made by a guy walking a plank, or riding a six-game losing streak.
It was also unwise. Bailey's quarterback sneak was short of the first down, although the Wildcats claimed the officials mismarked the ball.
Six plays later, Monte Anthony chugged around left end behind blocks by Tom Alward and Mark Doak for a five-yard touchdown.
Less than four minutes earlier, the Huskers had opened scoring with a 69-yard touchdown drive, ending on an 18-yard pass from Dave Humm to wingback Don Westbrook.
The play didn't go exactly as designed. Humm rolled out to his left, but Westbrook was covered by Wildcat safety Gordon Chambliss.
"It was supposed to be a quick pass, but Dave didn't throw it," Westbrook said. "I had run out my pattern, so I just looked for an open spot."
As he turned and headed for the end zone, Chambliss twisted his knee and fell, leaving Westbrook free for the easy reception. Chambliss left the game but later returned.
Humm, whose passing typified Nebraska's inconsistency, hit 12 of 21 passes for 177 yards and had a rare two-interception afternoon. He balanced those with two touchdown passes, raising his Big Eight career record to 41.
The second was to reserve tight end Brad Jenkins for 37 yards in the third quarter.
Unlike Westbrook's it went exactly as designed.
"We put that particular pattern in this week," said Jenkins, who bobbled the ball and carried Chambliss the last five yards into the end zone.
"It's set up by the counter sweep (a play that netted most of Westbrook's 66 yards on six carries) and run off the same action," Jenkins explained.
"The only guy covering me is the cornerback, and I couldn't believe how fast he went up to stop the run."
"I couldn't believe how open I was, and I thought, 'What if I drop it?' The crowd was all excited, and I could just hear them going, 'aaah.'"
It was the Fort Collins, Colo. sophomore's second touchdown. He recovered a fumble in the end zone against Oregon.
"That one was great because it was my first one, but this was more of a legitimate touchdown," Jenkins said.
Of course Jenkins wouldn't tell Mark Doak his touchdown was illegitimate. Any time an offensive tackle gets one, you call it anything he wants.
Doak and Mike Coyle's fourth extra point kick made it 28-0 in the third quarter when fullback Tony Davis lost control of the ball in mid flight while trying to dive for a one-yard touchdown.
The ball crossed the goal line, but Tony didn't and Doak wound up with the ball pinned against the No. 71 on his chest.
By that time, the clock was winding down on the third quarter, and moments later the Huskers closed out another week of holding opponents scoreless through 45 minutes. That made it eight in a row and nine in 30 games.
But, the Huskers, who have been outscored by opponents in the fourth quarter, did it again without wasting much time. They found a new way.
Monster back Dennis Frazee blocked a punt by Randy Lessman and would have had an easy touchdown if he would have handled the high bounding ball on the fly. But he had to settle for downing it on the Nebraska five-yard line.
Two plays later, Roscoe Scobey scored with just over three minutes gone in the fourth quarter.
"They had tried to block two or three earlier," Osborne said. "When they have a 10-man rush, somebody is going to be free."
Frazee was lined up at the left end of the Wildcats' rushing line and was unblocked. "Lessman was a little show," Osborne said. "You have to figure you'll get the kick away before the outside guy gets there."
"That was just a five-yard drive," Nebraska Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin said of K-State's touchdown. "But it had the makings of another Iowa State (the Cyclones scored 13 points in the last quarter)."
Ron Solt returned an interception 19 yards to the Nebraska 39 moments later, but that threat was stymied when defensive end Tom Pate hit Bailey on a fake field goal play and Ardell Johnson recovered the ensuing fumble.
John O'Leary, who was Nebraska's most effective rusher with 97 yards on 20 carries, fumbled the ball back on the next play. David Cheves missed a field goal attempt five plays later.
Enough of that. Nebraska gave the Wildcats just one more offensive play after holding the ball for 5:52 and 80 yards on a drive that stayed entirely on the ground and concluded with Jeff Moran's two-yard touchdown 28 seconds from the end.
Nebraska overcame the halftime total offense deficit to build a 437-249 advantage.
On defense, middle guard John Lee had 13 tackles despite missing much of the game with a pinched nerve in his neck and Ruud had 12.
Lee was the first of three nose men in the Nebraska defense. Backup Willie Thornton re-injured a knee, and Jerry Wied, normally a tackle, moved into the middle.
Wied, who has practiced at both positions all year in case of emergency, saw his first duty at middle guard. At times, there were four tackles in Nebraska's defense.
In the "Husker" or six-man front, Wied and John Plucknett joined the regular tackles, Ron Pruitt and Mike Fultz.
So with Kansas State out of the way, Nebraska will take an 8-2 record, 5-1 in the Big Eight, up against the nation's top-ranked Sooners in Lincoln Saturday. They had been thinking about Oklahoma, at least a little bit, the Huskers finally admitted.
"I can't deny the fact that that game was on our minds," Jenkins said. "There just wasn't the feeling in the locker room like there is before games like Colorado and Oklahoma."
But it was there afterward.
|Yards per carry||3.4||4.9|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 26|
|Iowa State||Nov. 9|
|Kansas State||Nov. 16|
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