Lincoln — With the bad dream of Wisconsin a week distant, Nebraska started anew Saturday, tossing Northwestern aside by 49-7, and reaffirming its position among college football's elite.
Pessimists, of course, will point to that 61-7 opener against Oregon, and say, 'Look what happened the next week,' when rascally Wisconsin pulled the plug on undefeated season thoughts.
But Coach Tom Osborne and his staff will have all week to worry about the next one. Saturday at Memorial Stadium was one of those days that keep pulling in sellout crowds. The 76,101 attendance was consecutive full house No. 69.
The sun came out in the morning, and Dave Humm was at his old station as the Nebraska quarterback despite consternation all week about his availability because of a hip injury.
Northwestern cooperated beautifully, playing with gumption despite being outmanned — a patchwork outfit because of injuries — and the mental stress of being outscored by 139-17 by three opponents.
Humm left for good six minutes before the half and his team owning a 28-0 lead. His first-team mates also saw little duty thereafter while 70 Huskers logged playing time.
With such early dominance, three quarterbacks took snaps before intermission and 12 backs eventually contributed to a 391-yard rushing total. The rout also spawned the most impressive performance ever by a Nebraska freshman.
Monte Anthony, a lanky frosh from Bellevue who was Nebraska's third I-back, led both teams in rushing with 111 yards on 14 carries. Fullback Tony Davis was next with 56.
For the Huskers, the leisurely victory journey was a welcome switch from the frustration of losing to the Badgers, 21-20, one week earlier.
"The easy ones are the best kind. There's just no way to compare last week and this one," offensive guard Tom Alward said as his next-door neighbor, tackle Mark Doak, reminded him to mention Doak's name. There is no such levity in a losing locker room.
"I was just sick last week," Alward said. Now, we just have to continue it. We were trying to even the score with the Big 10 Conference (Wisconsin and Northwestern are Big 10 members).
Any chance of a letdown this week against Minnesota in Lincoln?
"The same thing happened last year after we beat UCLA so easy in the first game. We had two tough games in a row. It's been driven home to us that we can't let up," Alward said.
"I hope we don't get into this up and down business," split end-wingback Ritch Bahe said. "I want to start a string of romps now.
"You have to wonder what happened last week. Wisconsin wasn't that much better than Oregon and Northwestern."
Bahe said he "wasn't worried" about a Wisconsin repeat when fumbles occurred the first two times Nebraska touched the football.
There was no harm, and the Wildcats returned in kind when linebacker Tom Ruud and middle guard John Lee claimed bobbles at the Northwestern 20 and 40, respectively, to put the Husker's in position for two first quarter touchdowns.
Wingback Donnie Westbrook opened scoring a third straight week from five, and Humm, the hip kid from Las Vegas, looked in blooming good health on a 23-yard pass to Westbrook that preceded Jeff Moran's three-yard touchdown.
Humm missed on three of his first four passes before retiring with 6-for-9 and 106 yards.
Then came Earl Everett, who got the word Friday night that he would be on the bench after being listed No. 1 all week.
He was disappointed, sure, but he scored a couple of touchdowns — as did fellow sophomore Dave Gillespie.
Everett, however, was a bit sheepish about the one that got away.
"I would have felt a lot better with three touchdowns," he said after he ran five yards into the end zone but forgot to take the ball with him early in the third quarter. Joe Verzino recovered his fumble at the one-yard line.
Ironically, that was the one play that Osborne had put into the Northwestern game plan specifically suited to Everett's talents. It was a pass-run option.
"Their monster was hanging back, and I was trying to outleg him so he wouldn't knock me out of bounds. I had the ball up for the pass, and I tried to tuck it away and it just slipped out," Everett said.
He won the race easily, but he "felt pretty bad when I went to the sidelines. Some of the fans really got on me. That hurt more than anything."
Everett completed one of two passes and junior Terry Luck hit four of eight. With the pass back in the Husker attack for 172 yards, the afternoon's offensive output was a hefty 563 yards to 181 for Northwestern.
Saturday's Husker passing chart read 11 for 19.
Much of the Huskers' improved running Saturday fell on the muscular shoulders of freshman Anthony, who scored his first varsity touchdown, and the Huskers' fourth of the day, in the second quarter from two yards.
Osborne was naturally pleased with Anthony's output but he smiled when a writer asked if the youngster who was a full back last week had earned the top I-back job.
"I don't think we're going to start him yet," Osborne said. "But he played very well for a freshman. I think Monte's got as much ability as any freshman back we've had around here for a while.
"He's tremendously versatile playing fullback and I-back. For a freshman to come in and in a period of a month learn what he's learned is really quite remarkable."
Anthony said he "wasn't that surprised. They really didn't have anybody else to play. John O'Leary got hurt last week, and Jeff Moran hurt his foot today (Saturday).
"It feels great," Anthony said when told he was the leading rusher. "I might have built college football up a little bit. I'm not saying it was easy, but I learned I can play."
The final score could easily have been more one-sided if Everett would have scored on his fumble play and the clock had a few more ticks before the half.
Luck had driven his team to the Northwestern six-yard line with an 18-yard pass to Tom Heiser with three seconds left. An incomplete pass ran out the clock. It was 35-0 at that point.
Northwestern, with untried Steve Moor doing an admirable if futile, job of quarterbacking, had little to offer offensively until the end of the third quarter after the count had risen to 42-0.
The Wildcats moved from their 27 to Nebraska's 22, mostly on Moor's 25-yard pass to Bill Stevens and a face-mask penalty. After Dave Redding and Jerty. Wied dropped Moor for losses, Jimmy Burrow intercepted a pass at the Husker 10.
Northwestern started again at the N.U. 41 after a punt and moved on in against the reserves for Richard Boothe's short scoring drive three seconds into the last quarter.
It was a consolation touchdown which may have made Northwestern's loss less painful. But it did little to dampen Husker enthusiasm.
The Nebraska offense was the most potent in three games. The defense, with linebacker Bob Nelson's eight tackles and tackle Mike Fultz's seven leading, was in control throughout. Sub Bob Hill was Northwestern's most successful rusher with 37 yards.
So Nebraska's record rests at 2-1 while Northwestern's droops at 0-3.
Minnesota, which defeated Texas Christian, 9-7, Saturday, will be the next problem, but Tom Osborne won't try to put Northwestern out of his mind as quickly as he did Wisconsin.
|Yards per carry||2.6||6.2|
Nebraska is 7-5 all-time against Northwestern.
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 26|
|Iowa State||Nov. 9|
|Kansas State||Nov. 16|
Nebraska has played 14 games on Sept. 28. See them all »
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