Columbia, Mo.—What do you do when you’re locked up in a typical Nebraska-Missouri football game, and that kind has gone against your guys the last couple of years?
Simple. You dust off the old Bummeroosky play, that’s what.
Technically, it’s called a fake punt, but its execution is so preposterous, Nebraska’s players have dubbed it Bummeroosky. Missouri coach Al Onofrio had seen it years ago. He calls it the Jackrabbit play. To his players, it’s just a bummer.
Tom Osborne, the Nebraska coach, termed it a “garbage” play, which seemed sort of disrespectful considering the impact it had on the outcome of Nebraska’s 30-7 victory Saturday.
Missourians referred to the mystery play in barnyard terms. The biggest problem in the press box was trying to decide how to spell Bummeroosky. One wag suggested “M-i-c-k-e-y M-o-u-s-e.”
It came with 1:46 left in the half and nebraska clinging to a 10-7 lead. A noisy Faurot Field crowd of 68,195 and a national television audience were watching. That’s the time to show some class.
Instead, Nebraska went to a sandlot play, with fullback Tony Davis handling the ball between John O’Leary legs, 21 players going to the right and O’Leary going to the left for 40 yards and a touchdown.
It was sweet revenge for the unbeaten (8-0) and third-ranked Huskers. It was a thorough trouncing for the outmanned 5-3 Tigers.
It was difficult for the Huskers to maintain their one-game-at-a-time stance after this one.
“This was the big one, the big one,” shouted fullback Davis in the pandemonium of the locker room. “We’re all the way this year,” yelled defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
If Nebraska plays as it did Saturday, the next two games against Kansas State and Iowa State should be mere formalities, although the Husker coaches shudder at such talk. That would leave the finale at Oklahoma for the Big Eight title.
“It was a typical Missouri defense, but we made fewer mistakes this year. We gave it away the last two years. We’re just a better football team than we have been the last couple of years.”
“We have better personnel. We had people who laid down in close games. This year, it’s different. We suck it up when we have to.”
Nebraska quarterback Vince Ferragamo was on who had it when he had to. He admitted to pregame jitters and was not spectacular the first half although he directed his team to a 10-0 first-quarter lead.
But he finished with three touchdown passes, including dandies of 37 and 61 yards to split end Bobby Thomas in the second half to wrap it up.
“I don’t think the final score was really reflective,” Ferragamo said. “I had trouble throwing into their defense. We tried to establish our running game, but it took us three quarters to do it.”
Ferragamo finished with eight completions in 17 passes for 136 yards. He was only 15 yards shy of the total by Missouri’s superb passer Steve Pisarkiewicz, who completed 12 of 27 and saw his receivers drop four.
But Pisarkiewicz was the whole show offensively for Missouri. Tailback Tony Galbreath, the Tigers’ main running hope, was held to 36 yards in 15 carries.
Nebraska, meanwhile, showed a relentless rushing game, although it needed the quick strikes for the scores. O’Leary, aided by the 40 yards on the fake punt, was the top Husker rusher with 70 yards on 10 carries. Monte Anthony had 65 on 15 and Davis 49 on 15.
“I don’t think anybody can say we won on breaks. We came up with some big plays, and every time we threw some garbage at them, it worked,” Osborne said.
“We did a good job of keeping them out of the end zone. I thought our pass defense was pretty good. Our running game was pretty good, but we kept making mistakes.”
“We knew he (Pisarkiewicz) was going to pass because they never established their running game,” said Nebraska linebacker James Wightman. “You can’t win just passing. Texas Christian found that out against us.”
“And they shouldn’t have had that one touchdown they got. Everybody just played a great game.”
Missouri coach Al Onofrio agreed with Wightman’s assessment.
“Whenever you’re forced to go with one phase of your offense (like passing), it hurts you. Nebraska was extremely aggressive. That’s the best defensive game I’ve seen them play. Missouri brought that out in them.”
“I don’t think we were as bad as the score shows. I still think we have a good football team. We just haven’t been that vulnerable to the pass before. And the kicking game had a lot to do with it.”
Then came a blocked punt by Husker defensive end Ray Phillips, who blew in from the left side and was not blocked.
Three plays later, Ferragamo passed to Brad Jenkins for five yards and the Colorado senior’s fifth touchdown reception of the year. Coyle’s extra point kick took Nebraska into the second quarter with a 10-0 lead.
About that time, Missouri started acting like Missouri and drove 42 yards for a Galbreath touchdown after Kenny Downing recovered a muffed punt by Kurt Stacey. A pass interference penalty in the end zone put the ball a yard from the goal.
That development no doubt conjured up memories for many Husker fans of the punt Randy Borg dropped near the Missouri goal that led to a 13-12 Mizzou upset here two years ago.
That same upset potential existed when the Huskers faced fourth and four at the Missouri 40 in the last two minutes of the first half.
But the first extra point miss in 37 tries by Mike Coyle kept it interesting through the third quarter. With Pisarkiewicz repeatedly connecting for first downs on their-and-long yardage, a touchdown and a field goal could keep Missouri’s string of eight unbeaten games at home.
But after Tim Gibbons was short on a 60-yard field goal attempt, the Tigers were out to try again when Leo Lewis dropped a punt at his 37, and Greg Jorgensen recovered for N.U.
Ferragamo immediately went deep to Thomas for the 23-7 touchdown 15 seconds before the end of the quarter.
Then came the coup de grace, a 90-yard, seven-play stab in the Tigers’ heart. It was kept alive with a defensive holding penalty on a fourth-down punt, and it ended when Ferragamo faked a jump pass such as he had thrown earlier to Tommy Heiser, then threw long again to Thomas for the 61-yarder.
“On the big plays, we caught them in the right kind of coverage, man-to-man,” Osborne said. “Thomas runs about the best out and up pattern I’ve seen. On the last touchdown, Vince pumped to the wingback, and the cornerback relaxed a little.”
“I thought I had a touchdown, but I slipped coming out of the end zone. I could have made it,” Butterfield said.
The junior cornerback also made a sterling play in the third quarter when he stuck a hand in front of Marshall to break up a pass from tailback Galbreath, who had completed eight of nine such passes for five touchdowns in two seasons.
“We’ve worked on it. We looked for it all day because they use it so much. We could see it coming,” Butterfield said.
For such auspicious work, Butterfield, who was the Big Eight defensive player of the week last week, was named defensive player of the game by ABC-TV. Ferragamo won the offensive award.
Although Pisarkiewicz appeared to have adequate time to pass most of the afternoon, he was sacked by Nebraska defenders nine times for 55 yards in losses, far more than he is used to.
Tackle Jerry Wied got to him three times and middle guard John lee and tackle Mike Fultz each roared in twice to lead the marauding Blackshirts.
Osborne summed: “This was an awful big one for us. We gained a lot of momentum, and we still think we’ve got a good shot at it (the Big Eight title). That’s not to take anything away from Oklahoma, but they’ve still got three tough games, including Missouri here.”
So there it was. Even Osborne was looking, for a moment, beyond Saturday’s trip to Kansas State. That’s how good his team was.
|Yards per carry||1.5||4.3|
Nebraska is 65-36 all-time against Missouri.
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 18|
|Kansas State||Nov. 8|
|Iowa State||Nov. 15|
|Arizona State||Dec. 26|
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