LINCOLN — Nebraska's football players couldn't wait to get on with it.
There they were, stranded out at the Kellogg Center, where they had bedded down Friday night. The kickoff against Kansas State was a couple of hours away. But no buses showed.
Using the ingenuity of the young, they stepped out into Holdrege Street in groups of three and four and started flagging down passing cars.
The entire squad made it the 30 blocks to Memorial Stadium in time to delight a turnout of 76,150 with a 51-0 waltz Saturday afternoon.
Kansas State's offense never did show up.
There were only two contests this day.
Could the Wildcats' beleaguered offense generate enough sock to cross midfield on its own? It finally made it in the last eight minutes after all scores were in.
Would Nebraska's high-precision offense or its bellwether defense cause the most destruction for the overmatched visitors? It wound up a tie.
The offense gave K-State its worst shellacking in the 61-game series since the 59-0 debacle in 1911. The total offense edge was an overwhelming 475 yards to 81.
The defense held the luckless Wildcats to minus 45 yards rushing — a school record for stinginess that wiped out the minus 42 versus Kansas in 1971.
Nebraska superlatives included:
—Four touchdown passes by Vince Ferragamo, matching the school record he shares with Dave Humm.
—Three touchdowns by split end Bobby Thomas, including his first as a ball-carrier on an end around.
—Sixteen carries by sophomore I-back Rick Berns that produced 95 yards.
—Eight quarterback sacks by the defense that amounted to 95 yards in losses.
—Two fumble recoveries apiece by domineering tackles Mike Fultz and Ron Pruitt.
—A parade of Husker reserves that totaled up to 76 participants, not including front-liners Monte Anthony, Dodie Donnell, Dan Schmidt and Tony Samuel.
Nebraska had entered the game with a wealth of respect for the Wildcat defense, but the K-State offense didn't give its defense a chance.
Starting with a lost fumble on the opening play that led to an Al Eveland field goal, K-State lost five of six fumbles. All led to scores.
The Huskers had to journey only 45, 40, 12, and 6 yards for touchdowns following giveaways.
But there were no gifts on drives of 65, 69 and 80 yards, during which Nebraska established clear dominance.
Coach Tom Osborne said the unexpectedly easy outing was "a lot better" than the last two games (17-9 over Miami and 24-12 over Colorado). That was a lot less nerve-wracking.
"We're always looking for improvement, and I think we improved a little bit today. I was real pleaded with our second team. We didn't seem to drop off much when they were in."
Osborne praised the defense for its first shutout of the season, saying, "We had a real good pass rush. We blitzed quite a bit. We were very impressive defensively."
Ferragamo, who completed 14 of 25 passes for 173 yards, said, "I thought I've thrown better than I did today. There are still things I have to work on. But overall, it was a better effort than last week (9x19 for 96 yards against Colorado).
"K-State has a lot better defense than the score indicates. That No. 2 (John Andrews) in the secondary was good, and Spani (linebacker Gary) is a great player.
"But Coach Osborne thinks we have the best crop of receivers we've ever had, and that was quite evident today."
Ferragamo, who said he didn't know how may touchdown passes he had thrown after his four-score day against Texas Christian, said, "I counted them today." He wanted the fifth, but he retired for the afternoon seven minutes into the third quarter.
"It was just good to see everybody get a chance to play," he said.
Ferragamo's first touchdown came on an eight-yard pass to tight end Ken Spaeth in the first quarter for a 10-0 lead.
He called the same play for the third touchdown with junior Mark Dufresne joining Spaeth in a double tight end formation. Spaeth was covered on the pass. Then he looked to I-back Berns, who was also covered.
He had enough time to go to Dufresne, the third alternative, for a 10-yard touchdown.
"That was exciting. I was wide open. I couldn't believe it," said Dufresne, a California junior college transfer who had just scored his first Husker touchdown.
The game also provided Thoams with his first ball-carrying chores since his freshman year.
The Pennsylvania senior said the first time he touched the ball in a freshman game was on an end-around. "I scored a touchdown against Iowa State, but it was called back by a clip," he said.
He had similar luck on his first attempt Saturday. The play worked for 34 yards to the KSU five-yard line in the second quarter, but a clip nullified it.
But Thomas got the ball again later in the period and hiked 13 yards to the end zone to make it 30-0 at the half.
Thomas, however, was at his skittery best on his touchdown receptions. The first made it 17-0 when he completed a 15-yard play by twisting away from Gary Bogue and Dennis Frazee at the five.
The third Thomas touchdown ended the 80-yard Husker drive that opened the second half. One play after Berns dropped Ferragamo's end zone toss, Thomas completed the fourth down, five-yard play by turning defender Homer Thomas in a circle and stepping into the clear for an easy catch.
As he uncharacteristically bobbled a ball he was autographing for a fan, Thomas said it was "fun to score either way, but I want to stay at split end. There's no way I want to be a ball-carrier."
After the regulars ran the score to 37-0, the subs, directed by Randy Garcia, had to journey only 12 yards after Fultz chased overworked K-State freshman quarterback Duane Howard back 19 yards and decked him so hard the ball shook loose. Fultz also won recovery honors in the pileup.
I-back Dave Gillespie skipped the last two yards for the touchdown, then retired for the umpteenth time in his carrer with a reinjured leg.
After the teams traded interceptions and Nebraska lost a fumble, K-State turned to Wendell Henrikson as its quarterback hope. He fared no better than Howard.
Fullback James Richardson fumbled Henrickson's first handoff, and defensive end Tom Hidder came up with it at the seven. Two plays later, Dale Zabrocki, Nebraska's fourth I-back, flitted six yards over the left side into the end zone.
Eveland, who missed for the first time of the season on his third extra point attempt, finished the day at 6-for-7 and the 20-yard field goal that opened the scoring.
Kansas State did not cross midfield the first half. It reached the 44 before Howard fumbled away to Pruitt.
The Wildcats reached the 48 via a Nebraska fumble but lost it right back on a wild pitchout. Roscoe Scobey apparently made the breakthrough on a 25-yard run that carried to the Husker 48 just before the half, but a penalty killed the gain.
It was that kind of day for Kansas State.
After the Cats had moved to the Nebraska 31 on an interception in the third quarter, they gave the ball back two plays later on an interception by Reggie Gast.
Then, Earl Everett fumbled for Nebraska on the Husker 35, but Dan Brock sacked Howard for a 21-yard loss, and K-State had to punt.
Two completions from Henrikson to John Liebe moved the ball to the Husker 15 in the fourth quarter, but Henrikson fell down on the next play, was dropped for a 10-yard loss by Larry Young, then gave the ball over on two incompletions.
K-State's last real bid started at the Nebraska 23 after an interception. It ended back at the 40 after a penalty and sacks of 11 yards by Randy Rick and Dennis Payne and another of the same distance by freshman middle guard Kerry Weinmaster.
Husker defensive captain Clete Pillen, pounded the reserve defenders on the back and congratulated them for preserving the shutout.
"We aim for a shutout every time we play, but I was surprised it went that way. This week the balls were falling our way.
"I didn't expect to see a rout like this, but I'm sure happy with it," Pillen said.
|Yards per carry||-1.2||4.3|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 2|
|Kansas State||Oct. 16|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 6|
|Iowa State||Nov. 13|
|Texas Tech||Dec. 30|
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