#4 Nebraska 56
TCU 14

Sept. 27, 1975 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska

1 2 3 4 T
TCU 0 7 0 7 14
Nebraska 14 14 14 14 56

Hopped-Up Cornhuskers Bull Frogs

Who opened the gates?... TCU punter Lee Cook (10) wasn’t given much of a chance late in the second quarter. His kick was met by onrushing Huskers Chuck Jones (35), Ray Phillips (80), Cletus Pilien (61) and Dave Butterfield (34). Butterfield got credit for the block as the ball went out of bounds on the TCU 37-yard-line, 13 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage. Nebraska fumbled two plays later and the half ended with 28-7 score. Rich Janda

Nebraska’s 56-14 mastery of Texas Christian Saturday was the kind of game enjoyed by Nebraska football fans and bullfight aficionados. The Cornhuskers got the ears, the tail, the works, but still the bull lived.

From the time Nebraska took its first two drives 46 yards for touchdowns, it was apparent to most everyone among the 75,931, except the few purple coats in the southwest corner, that the Huskers ruled this arena.

But the Horned Frogs passed the ball with enough efficiency and had enough defensive life left in the second half for a couple of pass interception returns worth 75 and 70 yards to keep the rained-on turnout from getting bored.

While TCU was getting a football lesson, Nebraska’s coaches and players insisted they were most pleased with how much the Huskers learned, rather than with the eight touchdowns and healthy 517 yards in total offense.

“We’re improve. We have a lot of young people, and they’ve come along. This game was good for our offensive line and linebackers. They learned a lot,” said coach Tom Osborne.

Getting Smarter

Defensive secondary coach Warren Powers, whose students intercepted three passes, said, “We made some mistakes, but they’re getting smarter. You can’t practice pass defense. You have to play it. That’s what’s so great about playing a team like this.”

True, TCU gained 153 yards and a touchdown passing, which is a creditable performance against the nation’s No. 2 defense, but aside from interception returns, it was an otherwise dreary afternoon for the visitors.

Freshman halfback Ricky Wright, for example, carried the ball 15 times. His net rushing total was 15 yards. Six of his teammates scrounged one more yard for the team net against Blackshirts John Lee, Mike Fultz, Jerry Wied, Bob Martin, Ray Phillips, et al.

The Husker offense, as the score indicates, operated as if it was working against a team losing its 13th straight game, which it was.

11 runners contributed to the 338 yards on the ground. How’s this for balance: Reserve wingback Tommy Heiser led with 59, followed by Monte Anthony with 54, John O’Leary 53, Tony Davis 51 and Dale Zabrocki 32.

Whenever the Frogs ganged up to stop the run, quarterback Terry Luck, then Vince Ferragamo and finally Randy Garcia stabbed them with passes.

On Target

Luck, gaining each week in poise and polish, completed nine of 13 passes for 83 yards and touchdowns of five yards to Tony Davis, eight to Brad Jenkins and seven to Chuck Malito.

Ferragamo, showing no drop-off from Luck’s fast pace, hit six of eight for 99 yards and a 30-yard scoring strike to Maltio.

Garcia completed his only pass for 12 yards while driving the subs to the final touchdown.

“Early, we ran the ball inside pretty well, but they took that away from us, so we started running outside more,” Osborne said. “We could have thrown more, but as we built up a lead, we just threw when he had to.”

Nebraska’s quarterbacks gave the impression they could easily have run the score higher if they had wanted to pass more, but Osborne instructed them to pass only in obvious passing situations in the last quarter and not at all in the last five minutes.

Pass Dictated

It was obvious to Ferragamo that a pass was dictated on the way to the seventh touchdown, the 30-yarder to Malito. TCU dictated it. Twice.

“They were playing everybody up on the line like they did against Arizona State (on a 95-yard pass play the week before). Vince called an automatic both times, Osborne said.

On the first one, defensive back Dennis McGehee knocked the ball down. On the second, McGehee fell down, claiming Malito pushed off, and the slender split end was in easily with his second touchdown reception.

“We weren’t trying to put one on them,” Osborne said of his team’s willingness to throw with the big lead. “It’s just the way they were playing us.”

Nebraska demonstrated a variety of scoring methods on a dreary day, starting with two punishing 46-yard drives in the first quarter following Jim Wightman’s fumble recovery and a Bobby Thomas punt return.

With Monte Anthony’s 3-yard blast over right tackle and Luck’s first scoring toss to fullback Davis for five yards, the Huskers established dominance.


But when the wounded Frogs showed their first sign of rebellion when Jimmy Dan Elzner replaced Lee Cook at quarterback in the second quarter.

He hit split end Mike Renfro for 28 yards, Verno Wells for 11 and finally Renfro again for the final 21, with safety Jimmy Burrow crawling up Renfro’s shirt and the pylon marking the corner of the end zone beneath his feet.

Back judge Alabama Glass overruled the crowd and said, yes, Renfro was in the end zone.

“I couldn’t tell myself,” Burrow said. “If he hit the pylon, that’s out. Whether he got a foot down I don’t know. But it was a perfect play”

“It was our goal to not give up any cheap touchdowns, and that wasn’t They probably deserved that one. It was a great catch.”

‘Little Nervous’

At that point, with a 14-7 lead well into the second quarter, Osborne said he was “getting a little nervous. They can go up and down the field in a hurry the way they pass.”

That’s when the Blackshirts took over for two touchdowns within 21 seconds to calm their coach’s nerves.

Tackle Fultz recovered an Elzner fumble at the TCU 10, and Luck followed up with an 8-yard scoring toss to tight end Brad Jenkins, over a crowd that included wingback Curtis Craig and two defenders.

Moments later, end Bob Martin swooped in and put his helmet in Elzner’s chest about the time he was passing. The errant toss went directly to linebacker Clete Pillen, who hadn’t seen anything like that since junior high.

Pillen caught it and rolled 27 yards before he was wedged out of bounds at the Frog five.

Wingback Craig scored from there on a counter sweep for his first collegiate touchdown.

No Room

“I was hoping it would be my first collegiate touchdown,” Pillen said. “But I just ran out of room. If I’d had a stronger forearm lift, I might have made it in.”

“I scored a couple of touchdowns as a tight end my senior year in high school, but my only one on defense was in junior high game when I ran one back 101 yards.”

“We were really lucky to get those two in the second quarter,” Osborne said. Then, as if to show the 28-7 lead was no fluke, the Husker reverted to muscle ball.

An 80-yard drive to open the second half, however, was aided by a pass interference penalty against TCU that cost 38 yards on a Luck toss that sailed far overhead. Malito followed with his 7-yard touchdown catch.

“I thought the call was against Bobby Thomas,” Osborne said. “I couldn’t believe it when they (the officials) called it against their defender. I guess things have a way of evening up.”

After Chuck Jones intercepted a Cook pass, Luck gave it right back to McGehee, who finally earned some satisfaction in a hard afternoon. His cross-country jaunt carried 75 yards to the Nebraska 6-yard line to set up the Blackshirts’ most impressive showing.

Stout Lads

After Ronnie Littleton carried to to the one on second down, Wonder Monds, Ray Phillips and Dave Butterfield squashed Wright for a yard loss. On fourth down, Nebraska gambled again with the blitz and left fullback Bobby Cowan open for Cook’s pass. But Cowan dropped it.

That left Nebraska with 98 yards to go, and Osborne said he just wanted his team to get a first down or two to get away from the goal line. Four first downs later, in an infantry march resembling the 99 yarder against Florida in the Sugar Bowl, the Huskers were thinking touchdown.

Wingback Heiser, who hasn’t been called Touchdown Tommy for a while, put a stop to the methodical routine when he swept the lsat 33 yards to the score.

After Ferragamo’s pass to Malito made it 49-7, freshman cornerback Darryl Lowe stepped in front of Heiser on another Ferragamo pass and sped 70 yards to TCU’s second touchdown.

An Education

“I wish I could have thrown the ball out of bounds. I have to read that guy on the play. I thought he was dropping back. That’s the worst thing that can happen to you. It’s an education in itself,” Ferragamo said.

“On both of those interceptions, the ball really had to be drilled, and the passes weren’t,” Osborne said.

TCU challenged by driving to the Nebraska 34 in the second quarter and the 29 in the third, but the defense held on fourth down in both cases.

Nebraska had other chances, too, such as when Dave Butterfield blocked a punt just before the half, with the ball rolling out of bounds on the TCU 37.

Got Punter, Too

“I was on the left end of the line (on a 10-man rush), and I didn’t even know I hit it. But I must have got a piece of the ball because I knocked the punter down and the official didn’t call it.”

That threat ended when Mack George recovered a fumble by Davis.

After Dave Gillespie scored the last touchdown on a 1-yard run, Osborne’s analysis included praise for his offensive line and linebackers but displeasure with the interceptions and the 99 yards in penalties.

“But we’re 3-0, and that’s better off than being 2-1, which is where we were last year at this time,” he said.

TCU was also “the first real passing team we’ve faced in quite a while, and that’ll help us next week against Miami because they’ll throw a lot, too,” Powers said.

Miami, which pressed top-rated Oklahoma, 20-17, Friday night, will be the final non-conference opponent for Nebraska next Saturday in memorial Stadium.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Game stats

Opp NU
Penalties-Yards 8-99
Rush yards 16 323
Rush attempts 31 71
Yards per carry 0.5 4.5
Pass yards 153 194
Comp.-Att.-Int. 12-26-3 16-22-2
Yards/Att. 5.9 8.8
Yards/Comp. 12.8 12.1
Fumbles 2 1

Series history

Nebraska is 6-1 all-time against TCU.

See all games »

1975 season (10-2)

LSU Sept. 13
Indiana Sept. 20
TCU Sept. 27
Miami (FL) Oct. 4
Kansas Oct. 11
Oklahoma State Oct. 18
Colorado Oct. 25
Missouri Nov. 1
Kansas State Nov. 8
Iowa State Nov. 15
Oklahoma Nov. 22
Arizona State Dec. 26

This day in history

Nebraska has played 11 games on Sept. 27. See them all »

©2019 BH Media Group