LINCOLN — Once Iowa State learned how, it improved on its act against Nebraska. This time, the Cyclones took their show on the road, right into the Cornhuskers’ own palace where Cy the Cyclone didn’t have a lot of friends and there wasn’t any amplified music.
Afterwards, there were no Cornhusker complaints about Iowa State fan and band deportment as even a remote factor. All decisive moves were made on the field, and Iowa State made most of them.
So for the second year in a row the former Nebraska patsy, which has been winless the previous 15 years, walked away with its chest puffed out while the Huskers were left to ponder the reasons why.
It wasn’t hard to figure out Saturday’s 24-21 upset before 76,090 Memorial Stadium viewers. Just like in the 37-28 Cyclone stunner in Ames the year before, the Huskers developed a bad case of leaks on defense, and ISU’s offense didn’t allow its counterpart enough chances.
Iowa State, which had looked less than formidable offensively against Iowa, Wichita State, Bowling Green, Dayton and Missouri, owned the ball and the clock while initiating 88 plays to Nebraska’s 60.
Dexter Green slashed for 139 yards, and Cal Cummins slammed for 115 in the sudden show of power.
The team that had ranked seventh in the Big Eight Conference in rushing with a 159.6-yard average, rushed 74 times (33 more than N.U.) for 294 yards to the Husker’s 178.
After the Cyclones cranked out a 383-307 edge in total offense, someone scrawled this postscript on the blackboard in the visiting locker room: “Some Fluke, Beat Oklahoma.”
Suddenly, Iowa State was tied for the Big Eight lead at 2-0 and 5-1 in all games and looking forward to challenging the Sooners for the lead Saturday in Norman. Nebraska went off to regroup at 1-1 and 4-2.
“We couldn’t stop them very well, obviously,” Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said. “We have to score more than three touchdowns in a game like that.
“I’m disappointed,” Osborne said. “I thought we could play better than that. We can’t blame the crowd. It seems like we’ve fallen into a pattern of playing well defensively every other week.”
Nebraska couldn’t have asked much more of prized sophomore I-back I.M. Hipp, who toted 25 times for 165 yards and scored on runs of 59, 17 and 7 yards. But he was virtually ignored for the first time in the locker room after going over 100 yards for the fourth consecutive week.
The story was Nebraska’s inability to stop the enemy, particularly on crucial third-and-fourth-down situations. With questions by soph quarterback Terry Rubley, draws to tailback Green and passes to Green coming out of the backfield, ISU was successful on 14 of 23 third or fourth down plays. They resulted in first downs or touchdowns.
This included the conversion of six of seven crucial plays in the second quarter, when the Cyclones scored two touchdowns.
“Tom Lichtenberg and Jim Williams were calling the plays in the press box. Weren’t they something?” said elated Iowa State boss Earle Bruce.
“Whatever they tried worked,” Osborne said.
“We missed enough tackles to last a dozen years,” Nebraska defensive line coach Charlie McBride said. “It all starts with blocking and tackling.”
“We thought we could keep the ball, but I didn’t know we could keep it that well. One of the keys was the fact that we didn’t have any turnovers,” Bruce said. The Cyclones lost one fumble, but it came when they had fallen short on fourth down at the Nebraska 23 in the final minute.
Osborne, meanwhile was lamenting lost fumbles at the Nebraska 25 and 23 that led to a Cyclone touchdown and field goal. One was on an errant pitchout by Randy Garcia and the other by Hipp.
The Hipp fumble in the third quarter set up Scott Kollman’s 32-yard field goal that finished Iowa State scoring, provided a 24-14 lead and ultimately was the winning margin.
But back in Nebraska’s opening series, it appeared that the Cyclones’ vaunted defense could be had. Hipp warmed up with a four-yard gain on the first play, then started off on his favorite path, with a quick pitch to his right. He cut back left, then fled 59 yards down the sideline for a quick touchdown.
Only 2:42 had expired when Billy Todd’s conversion kick made it 7-0, the stadium exploded and the balloons went up.
Osborne circled his offense on the sideline and advised them to not be misled. It wouldn’t be that easy the rest of the way.
“I’ve seen it happen a lot of times, when a team scores quickly and relaxes. I talked to them about that,” Osborne said.
The Cyclones made a prophet of Osborne with a methodical 74-yard tying touchdown in 14 plays. It was fourth-and-six from the Nebraska 28 when Bruce nixed a field goal try into an 18 mile per hour breeze.
Rubley fed the ball to Green on a short pass over the middle, and the play covered 25 yards. Three plays later, Rubley rolled left, tucked the ball in and ducked upfield for a five-yard touchdown.
Nebraska recaptured the lead at 14-7 after one quarter when Hipp skipped over on his 17-yarder following a 15-yard scramble by Garcia and a facemask penalty.
But the Cyclones answered with an 82-yard drive that consumed 6:12 and kept the ball away from Hipp. All 15 plays were on the ground, and the pesky Green, who had gained 109 yards against the Huskers the year before, followed Cummins’ block the final 19 yards on a draw play.
That one came on third-and-15.
One Nebraska play later, Iowa State was back operating on the N.U. 25 when cornerback Mike Clemons covered Garcia’s bouncing pitchout. Again, it was a third-and-15 play that did in the Blackshirt defense.
Monster back Kent Smith, starting for the first time this season, nearly made a heroic interception along the sideline, but his leap was ill timed, and Cyclone split end Stan Hixon became the hero with a 22-yard reception to the eight. Cummins dived over from the three to give his team a 24-14 halftime lead.
Throughout that first half, the crowd was whipping up a fine imitation of the bedlam Huskers said was so damaging the year before in Ames. Twice, Rubley stepped away from the scrimmage line to ask for quiet.
When his request was naturally refused, he stepped back in to call the touchdown draw to Green and the big pass to Hixon.
Kollman’s field goal in the third quarter was the final score for Iowa State, but it was enough when Nebraska could muster only a 65-yard drive that ended with Hipp’s third touchdown three minutes before the end of the third quarter.
But there was much more drama. The Husker defense started solving some problems.
Another lengthy Cyclone march carried to the Nebraska five-yard line early in the fourth quarter. But on fourth-and-three, ends George Andrews and Tony Samuel decked Rubley for a two-yard loss.
Then, twice more the Blackshirts quashed third-down plays to force punts.
The N.U. offense had its chances in the fourth quarter, but it had to start from its 7, 26, 12 and 28, and by then, the Cyclones knew Garcia would have to throw.
Nebraska frustration was graphically illustrated by a prone Garcia when he was crunched by Cyclone leader Mike Stensrud for a 14-yard loss and fumble on the Husker 23 in the last 1½ minutes.
If there was a miracle to be worked by the Huskers, there was one final chance when it got the ball back at its 28 with 60 seconds remaining.
Garcia got off six plays in that time, but none was a miracle.
“Unconsciously, we might have been waiting for Isaiah (Hipp) to come through with the big play for us again,” Osborne said. “I don’t think we played with the enthusiasm I thought we would, and I don’t know why.
“Iowa State’s offense was better than we’d seen in five games, but we missed a lot of tackles and made them look good.”
“We just ran out of time. If we could have stopped their third-down plays early, it would have been different,” Nebraska cornerback Rene Anderson said.
“The first half, we didn’t get the ball, as much as we’d have liked, but we had our chances the second half,” Garcia said. He finished with 10 completions in 19 passes for 129 yards. Rubley completed eight of 13 for 89 yards.
“We gave our damndest,” Husker offensive guard Greg Jorgensen said. “I thought everyone was pointing for this game. We couldn’t wait to get on the field. Maybe we were too sky high, or maybe we laid back and thought Isaiah would win it for us.”
Said center Tom Davis, who missed much of the game with a hip injury: “Iowa State must be a good team because they scored more points than we did, and we thought we had a good offense.”
The Huskers will try it again Saturday at home against Colorado, the nation’s No. 3 team before it was tied by Kansas Saturday.
|Yards per carry||4.0||4.3|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|Washington State||Sept. 10|
|Kansas State||Oct. 8|
|Iowa State||Oct. 15|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 29|
|North Carolina||Dec. 19|
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