Lincoln—The most amazing thing about Nebraska’s 52-0 frolic past Iowa State Saturday was that there was room for even a smidgen of disappointment.
The Cornhuskers, fitting together their most perfect offensive-defensive showing in 10 victories, sewed up at least half the Big Eight championship for the first time since 1971. But the Huskers thought they had all of it.
A premature word that Missouri had beaten Oklahoma and thus given the outright title and an Orange Bowl trip to Nebraska touched off a wild celebration in the N.U. dressing quarters.
Then word came in that Oklahoma had rallied to win, 28-27. Suddenly, players and coaches became somber. Saturday’s visit to Norman to play Oklahoma had become meaningful again.
Then resolution set in.
“Look, I’ve been around here five years,” said tight end Brad Jenkins. “If we don’t beat Oklahoma, it won’t seem like a championship anyway.”
Co-captains Terry Luck and Bob Martin had a pow-wow after the game to talk about the disappointment. “I just hope people (players) don’t take this negatively,” Luck said. “It would have been great to win today, but it doesn’t make any difference to me.”
Nebraska its followers in the final home stand to a showing of offensive near-perfection without a turnover by fumble of pass interception. Two Husker fumbles were quickly covered by red jerseys.
It was the first time in 10 games that Nebraska did not have a turnover.
It was apparent from the start that the superb 62-degree afternoon and a Memorial Stadium filled with 76,151 noisy spectators were not Iowa State’s kind of day and setting.
Ray Hardee, a freshman who had never before encountered such a spectacle, muffed the opening kickoff, and Husker Dave Butterfield recovered. Three plays later, Curtis Craig, who defected from Davenport, Ia., swept eight yards to score and touch off the most impressive shower of oranges in Memorial Stadium history.
By the time the 52nd point was hung up on the scoreboards, the supply had been so depleted that a lone orange sailed out of the stands as the players trudged off for their wasted celebration.
When starting quarterback Vince Ferragamo, retired after two spectacular quarters with his team leading, 31-0, attention could be turned to other matters with the Cyclones safely tucked away.
Nebraska coach Tom Osborne and athletic director Bob Devaney focused postgame comments on the Sugar Bowl, making a pitch for the New Orleans committee to invite the Nebraska-Oklahoma loser.
With Osborne calling it a “complete reversal of last week (Nebraska was held to a 12-0 win at Kansas State),” the Huskers ran up season highs of 249 yards passing and 567 yards in total offense.
The 52 points represented the third worst defeat in Iowa State history and extended its winless string against the Husker to 15 games. The Cyclones had been beaten by the same score by Texas Tech in 1967, Colorado in 1956 and Oklahoma in 1955.
The only worse experiences were 55-0 by Oklahoma in 1941 and again by the Sooners, 63-0, in 1946.
“Even after we took the first string players out, we still played well.”
It was the fourth shutout of the year for Monte Kiffin’s defensive players, after Indiana, Kansas and Kansas State. It was the first time the Cyclones failed to score in 48 games. Nebraska last blanked four opponents in 1972.
“The thing that pleases me most is that the second-team defense played so well,” Kiffin said. “The kids have kinda had to push themselves the last two weeks. Kansas State and Iowa State are no Missouri and Oklahoma.”
“But you can throw out all those shutouts. We start all over again next week.”
Ferragamo also added a touchdown sneak during his half, and Monte Anthony, the leading Husker rusher with 80 yards on 16 carries, banged in from the five.
And Mike Coyle, who kicked seven straight extra points, drilled a 39-yard field goal.
The pace didn’t slacken much when Ferragamo departed after the Huskers scored on five of their first six possessions and nearly got another in the final seconds of the first half when Vince completed passes of 25 and 24 yards to Larry Musinskie and Rick Panneton.
But Coyle’s 37-yard field goal attempt was wide.
The Huskers scored on three of five possessions under Luck’s direction.
The luckless Cyclones did their best work when quarterback Buddy Hardeman was scrambling, but he went out in the second quarter with a dislocated thumb. After that it was mainly up to Jim Wingender, the hardy tailback from Omaha Creighton Prep, who toughed out 77 yards on 15 carres.
The Cyclones added to their own misfortunes with five major penalties that came on Nebraska scoring drives.
Assistant coach Tom Harper drew one when he ran out on the field on the second march to protest when an official ruled the ball dead on an Anthony fumble. “I just got excited,” Harper said.
If that weren’t enough, the Cyclones were frustrated by a Kent Smith interception after driving to the N.U. 24 and later moving to the Husker 32 and losing the ball on downs after receiver Clive Sands dropped a pass at the Husker six.
Then in the third quarter, Iowa State was moving along nicely, down to the Nebraska 31, when Tom Mason, the third I-State quarterback, passed into the end zone toward Forry Smith. An official, however, took away the apparent touchdown, saying the Cyclone had pushed off Kent Smith for offensive interference.
The ball then went to Nebraska at teh 20 via a touchback, just like it did in the Nebraska-Oklahoma State game.
Nebraska, however, had good fortune as well as superior skill.
On fourth-and-23 from the Iowa State 27, the Huskers couldn’t realistically expect Luck to flutter a pass over the middle to Panneton for a first down at the two. But he did, and Gillespie scored on the next play.
At the merciful end, Iowa State coach Earl Bruce, who is catching alumni heat after five straight losses (in a 4-6 season), gushed praise of the Huskers and the coach job of Osborne and his staff.
Osborne and his players had already forgotten Iowa State. They soon dismissed the letdown of Oklahoma’s comeback.
Said Osborne: “When the whistle blows next week, it’ll just be Nebraska versus Oklahoma. The bowls will be in the back of our minds, but these fellas just want to beat Oklahoma. I hope it’s a great game. That’s what college football is all about.”
|Yards per carry||4.3||4.4|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 18|
|Kansas State||Nov. 8|
|Iowa State||Nov. 15|
|Arizona State||Dec. 26|
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