AMES, Iowa — It all came spilling out in the last minute. All that pent-up frustration. Fifteen years' worth. Iowa State had finally done in the hated foe from Nebraska.
The goal posts went in that final minute with the teams still on the field. But it didn't matter. The scoreboards stood, bearing the epic final reading: Iowa State 37, Nebraska 28.
It was no fluke, and the Cornhuskers knew it. They made a few references to six lost fumbles and an interception and the difficulty of playing with a patchwork defense but the Cyclones earned every bit of it.
Iowa State didn't rush for 321 yards against the Big Eight's top rushing defense with fluke runs. And the Cyclones didn't hold the Huskers to 77 yards on the ground with fluke tackling.
The Cyclones did it by scoring more points than any team has scored against a Husker team since Oklahoma's 47-0 trouncing in 1968. And against a team that was ranked No. 9 in the nation, allowing a trifling 10.8 points per game.
They did it with second-string quarterback Buddy Hardeman inflicting the most damage after Wayne Stanley was lost for the rest of the season with an injured knee in the second quarter and while overcoming three lost fumbles of their own.
There were no excuses in the somber Nebraska quarters afterward.
"The turnovers hurt us badly, but I think we just got beat," Coach Tom Osborne said. "I guess it comes back to me. The coach is responsible for getting his team ready, and I guess I didn't.
"For the most part, they just beat us. Those offensive statistics are for real. They moved the ball better on us than any team has in years." ISU had gone into the game with a league-leading offense, averaging 448 yards a game.
Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin said the 28 points the offense scored "were enough to win. For the first time, I felt we really got whipped. And I hate to say that.
"Hardeman was the big key. I don't think Stanley was hurting us as much. We shut down his passing game.
"It's a hard thing to figure out. It was just a nightmare. What's happened to Nebraska football? We were the preseason No. 1 team in the nation.
"It's hard to look the players in the eye. It'll take some time to come back after this one."
The Huskers will have until Nov. 26 to recover before playing Oklahoma in the Big Eight's season finale.
The Huskers, who could have wrapped up a share of the conference title by outpointing the Cyclones, found themselves back in a five-way tie with Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado for the league lead. All have 4-2 Big Eight records.
Iowa State, which had been receiving attention only from the Liberty Bowl, suddenly found itself smack in the middle of the Orange Bowl picture, and Miami looked a long way off for the Huskers.
With one round of conference play remaining, a two-or-three-way tie for the title is likely, and a 12-man Orange Bowl selection committee will choose the conference representatives.
Nebraska, dropping to 7-2-1, was set up for the kill by the frenetic atmosphere created by a surprising team that had built a 7-2 record against some largely inferior opposition.
But a record turnout of 51,500 in ISU Stadium had gathered, anticipating, or at least hoping for the first victory over Nebraska since the 1960 team managed a 10-7 win.
It was accomplished in a carnival setting. The Mayor of Ames had helped paint the main street with "Beat Nebraska" slogans the day before.
About 100 students slept by the gates in freezing temperatures to be first in line. Sky divers dropped into the stadium before-kickoff, and hot air balloons drifted over at the half.
The Cyclone fans were so enthusiastic that they hampered Ferragamo's signal-calling, Osborne said.
"We couldn't audible. I know they (Iowa State officials) appealed to their fans to be noisy. Our players couldn't hear audibles, so we just gave up. And our offense is predicted on getting out bad plays into good plays (with audibles)," Osborne said.
The game fit right in with the circus atmosphere.
Nebraska shoved the Cyclones back to their two-yard line with a punt early in the fourth quarter, but Stanley drove his team 94 yards, thanks mainly to a 48-yard run by sophomore tailback Dexter Green and a 20-yard pass to Green.
The Cyclones got only the first of three Scott Kollman field goals out of it.
The first lost fumble was contributed by Byron Stewart on the ensuing kickoff, and six plays later, Green was in the end zone for a 10-0 lead.
It was apparent by then the Huskers on shaky ground. Normally reliable receivers were watching passes bounce off their frozen fingers, but Osborne said he "didn't think the weather was a factor."
Then Clete Pillen, the linebacker who was the national defensive player of the week the week before, went out hurt. He came back later, as did James Wightman and Percy eichelberger, also linebackers, who were sidelined with hurts.
But the defensive ends were the most critical positions for N.U. Regular Ray Phillipswas left home with a sore back.
Tony Samuel, the other end, was lost in the first quarter, and George Andrews, who started in Phillips place, missed several important minutes.
That was one area Nebraska had to be at its best.
The Cyclones worked over the corners, with Green stepping for 109 yards on 19 carries, Stanley 51 on 16 attempts and Hardeman 93 to 18.
And fullback Cal Cummins worked the middle for 66 yards. The best Nebraska could muster on the ground was the 47 yards on five carries by Monte Anthony.
The passing of Ferragamo kept the Huskers in it with 199 yards on 12-for-27 and two touchdowns. The scoring pitches of 43 and 30 yards to Bobby Thomas ran Ferragamo's season touchdown total to 18 to tie Dave Humm's school record.
Ferragamo's 43-yarder pulled the Huskers back to 7-10 late in the first quarter, but the Cyclones answered with a bolt out of the Blue.
Luther Blue ran into a pack with the kickoff and somehow emerged in a footrace with safety Larry Valasek, Blue, who was No. 2 in the nation as a kickoff returner two years ago, won easily on a 95-yard jaunt.
It was 17-7 and only the first quarter.
The Huskers hiked 68 yards following Valasek's return of a short field goal, and Monte Anthony's 14-yard spurt cut the lead to 17-13. Eveland missed the extra point.
A fumble by punt returner Dave Butterfield set up Kollman's second field goal and a 20-13 Iowa State lead at the half.
Strangely, there was no scoring in the third quarter, but only by a stroke of very good fortune for the Huskers.
Green was headed for the end zone from the two when he was separated form the ball, which escaped through a mad scramble by both teams out of the end zone. The Huskers had a reprieve and the ball on its 20.
Here came the Huskers.
Mike Fultz claimed a Hardeman fumble, and Ferragamo tossed deep to Thomas, who cut in front of Omaha native Jerry Jaksich on the goal line and swiped the 30-yard touchdown toss.
Then it was 20-20.
"When we had them tied, I felt we'd win," —Osborne said.
That's when the Cyclones earned it the most. They strung together 15 plays and covered 8- yards, with nary an aerial yard.
Green scored from the two, and Kollman did a jig after kicking the extra point.
He danced again when his 21-yard field goal made it 30-20, and only 5:$6 remained.
And he went positively berserk following his kick after Hardeman slipped around the right side for 16 yards to make it 37-20.
The Huskers scored last with a bit of razzle-dazzle that came too late. Curtis Craig fielded the kickoff and passed across the field to Rick Berns, who hoofed 86 yards to the Cyclone two. Berns scored from there.
"Beating Nebraska is the pinnacle of our program," Cyclone Coach Earle Bruce said in the bedlam of his dressing room. "Now I won;t have to feel bad whenever I go into Omaha."
Looking ahead to the Oklahoma game and the muddled bowl situation, Osborne said, "I hope we still have something to play for. I hope people are still interested in us.
"We'll give the players two or three days off now. We were planning on doing that anyway. There's a temptation to start practicing again right away, though.
"I think we have pretty good people. I hope they can come back."
|Yards per carry||4.6||2.0|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 2|
|Kansas State||Oct. 16|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 6|
|Iowa State||Nov. 13|
|Texas Tech||Dec. 30|
Nebraska has played 17 games on Nov. 13. See them all »
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