LINCOLN — They ought to have a way to call it off when a team gets mugged the way Texas Christian did Saturday.
How could the 10-run rule they use in kid baseball apply to football?
They even stop the Indy 500 when there's less rain than Memorial Stadium had Saturday.
The TCU trainers kept handing out dry towels from a plastic sack, but nobody thought to throw one in.
Over on the Nebraska side, the Cornhuskers were anxious to pack it in, too. They had scored 64 points with nearly 11 minutes left in the game. TCU was 54 points back, which is not what you'd call striking distance.
The first home-game crowd of the Husker season had started out at 74,981 and was down to about the hardiest 40,000 at the end.
"I wish they were all like that," whispered N.U. assistant John Melton as the soaked Huskers trooped to their locker room afterward.
The 64-10 whipping had held up, giving Nebraska a 2-0-1 record while the Horned Frogs escaped back to Fort Worth at 0-3.
Can you imagine? TCU actually led twice in the first quarter.
The outing included record-matching passing by Nerbaska's Vince Ferragamo, who had much more help and easily stole the thunder from Jimmy Dan Elzner, the touted Frog slinger.
Ferragamo passed for four touchdowns in the first half to tie the N.U. record set by Dave Humm against Kansas in 1972. And Humm took two halves to do it.
Ferragamo nearly had the record to himself when Bobby Thomas, who had caught two earlier, dropped one in the end zone while prone in the air. And Dave Shamblin, who also scored earlier, dropped a long one that was a potential touchdown.
Those were among the few disappointments for Nebraska. Coach Tom Osborne, as is his custom, found a few more.
"A lot of things were pleasing," he said, "But we didn't run the ball very well, particularly early in the game. There are a lot of teams that we can't expect to beat if we can't run the ball."
After starting out with deficits of 0-3 and 7-10 in the first quarter, the Huskers found they could pass with ease. They ran up 199 yards passings and a 38-10 lead in the first two quarters.
When the Horned Frogs insisted on handing the ball over close to their own end zone, the Huskers ran it up with the reserves and finished with a total offensive bulge of 433 yards to 172. Nebraska had a 231 passing-192 rushing split.
But those statistics don't include the play that had most psychological impact on both squads.
It was starting to get a bit tense for Nebraskans when TCU struck first via a 27-yard field goal. Frogs kicker Ruben Ray got a second chance after Dave Butterfield blocked one from the 28 and N.U. I-back Monte Anthony gave the ball right back on a fumble.
Nebraska evened up the turnovers when Dodie Donnell claimed a fumble on a punt return to set up Ferragamo's first touchdown pass to Dave Shamblin from 10 yards.
Elzner looked as if he could pass all afternoon, especially after Mike Renfro sneaked behind safety Larry Valasek for a 41-yard gain to the N.U. one. Gerry Modzelewski's dive produced a 10-7 TCU lead.
Earlier, Elzner had combined with Tony Accomando for a 62-yard pass-run gain.
Then came THE play.
It was a bolt of a punt return by Butterfield, an 87-yarder which was five yards shy of Johnny Rodgers' school record.
The Butter Man, who had perhaps his best day as a Husker with an interception to go with his clocked kick, punt return and secondary harassment, wasted little motion on the return. He swept to his right, cut back behind a James Wightman block and won a flat-out race with defender George Layne.
The Huskers never again trailed.
"We gave up some big plays early, and it could have been a panicky situation. The punt return was a big play psychologically," Osborne said.
"They (TCU) did some things defensively that gave us trouble, but we adjusted."
Mainly, the Huskers passed more. The passing game "evolved after the first quarter. It looked like their secondary was playing the run more," Osborne said.
Ferragamo warmed up by completing 14 of 19 passes for 199 yards before intermission. He passed for touchdowns of 10 yards to Shamblin, who lined up at wingback, 31 to split end Thomas, 10 to fullback Dodie Donnell and 10 again to Thomas.
The last two touchdowns of the half came in the final 1:36 after drives of 36 yards following a 13-yard Butterfield punt return and the same distance after an interception by Valasek.
After an early interception and a couple of questionable audibles, Ferragmo had "as good a day after the first five minutes as I've ever seen him have," Osborne said.
Ferragamo said he "audibled into the interception (by cornerback Perry Colston after it was tipped by linebacker Joe Segulja). That was a heck of an audible," he said with a laugh.
"But I've got to give credit to the offensive line. I got that extra second to pass, and the receivers ran perfect patterns," he said.
After an earlier miss from 27 yards, Nebraska kicker Al Eveland drilled a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter that helped build the lead to 38-10 at the half. And he added two more from 25 and 34 in the third quarter to go with five extra-point kicks.
Reliever Ron VanderMeer was 2-for-3 on conversions.
The second half was an embarrassment to the Frogs, who kept playing giveaway, and a joy to the Husker reserves.
N.U. coaches ran 76 players onto the field, and the regulars took the day off in the middle of the third quarter.
That allowed Bellevue mite Dale Zabrocki, the No. 4 I-back, to score the sixth touchdown from five yards and Byron Stewart, No. 5, to score twice, from the seven and two.
The Frogs contributed grandly to their demise down the stretch.
Elzner bounced a pass off tight end James Wright's chest into the hands of cornerback Pat Lehigh to set the Huskers up at the TCU 23. Eveland's third field goal made it 44-10.
Jimmy Grant muffed the ensuing kickoff, and Tim Fischer recovered at the TCU 24. Zabrocki made it 51-10.
Punter Cameron Young, who had earlier dropped a snap and had to punt on the run, lost another, and the Husker sophomore end George Andrews found it on TCU's eight. The lead was 57-10 after Stewart's first score.
After consecutive tackles for losses by freshman middle guard Kerry Weinmaster of North Platte, soph Andrews and Weinmaster again, Young punted only 29 yards, and Fischer returned it 15.
It took Stewart, a sophomore from Oxen Hill, Md., five straight carries to cover the remaining 24 yards. He skipped 18 yards up the middle on his first try.
Reflecting on his two-touchdown afternoon, Stewart could have spoken for all of the Husker subs.
"It makes a big difference when everybody gets a chance to play. I was redshirted last year, and I hurt a leg earlier. Things were building up inside me.
"I had seen these big crowds from up in the stands but not from down on the field. It was worth the wait. That was a big confidence-builder."
"It was just a fun day for the team and the crowd," said receiver Thomas, who had matched Stewart's two touchdowns.
There weren't many celebrants in the Husker quarters who would have voted for calling it off.
|Yards per carry||0.2||4.3|
Nebraska is 6-1 all-time against TCU.
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 2|
|Kansas State||Oct. 16|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 6|
|Iowa State||Nov. 13|
|Texas Tech||Dec. 30|
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