LAWRENCE, Kan. — For a time Saturday, it looked like Nebraska would outscore the temperature. The Huskers would have made it, but Mother Nature surprised November with an 85-degree day and the attempt came up 22 points short.
So much for surprises. The fact that Nebraska did defeat Kansas 63-21 before a Memorial Stadium crowd of 52,100 can’t be considered earth-shattering.
The victory was Nebraska’s 10th straight over the Jayhawks, and most have been lopsided like Saturday’s. The Huskers have outscored KU 401 to 77 that decade of domination.
Neither is it out of the ordinary that the win set up a shootout with Oklahoma next Saturday in Lincoln that will help decide the Big Eight championship and determine the conference’s Orange Bowl representative. As quarterback Tom Sorley said late Saturday: “It’s showdown time again.”
However, there were some elements of this latest destruction of Kansas that some people may remember after the hoopla of another Oklahoma game subsides.
No Nebraska team has ever gained more yards in a game than the Huskers gained Saturday. The total offense figure of 799 yards produced is a Big Eight record and also tops in the nation this year by a college team.
The old standard was 785 yards by Oklahoma against Kansas State in 1971.
Nebraska also tied the school record for first downs with 35. That mark was first set against Kansas State in 1911. “For some reason we always seem to run well against Kansas,” said Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne. The Huskers ran and passed well. They gained 516 yards on the ground, not far off the team record of 550 set against Kansas last year, and passed for 283 yards against the team that had been leading the Big Eight in pass defense.
‘In fairness to Bud (KU Coach Bud Moore), he does have a lot of people hurt,” Osborne said. “He just didn’t have the people to get the job done.”
The difference in depth between the Huskers, who are 8-1 overall and share the Big Eight lead with Oklahoma at 5-0, and cellar-dwelling Kansas, which has opposite records of 1-8 and 0-5, was most apparent in the startling performance turned in by Husker I-back Craig Johnson.
Kansas prepared for the game fearing the presence of Isaiah Hipp, Rick Berns and Tim Wurth from the I-back spot. Last year Hipp gained 200 yards, Berns 107 and Wurth 90 against the Jayhawks.
But injuries cut down the playing time for that trio. Hipp, bothered by a tight hamstring, gained 46 yards, and Berns, who left the game in the second quarter with a thigh bruise, gained 44. Wurth, who has been bothered by a jammed neck, didn’t carry once.
In their absence, Johnson was superb.
The first time he touched the ball he went 64 yards to score the second touchdown in the Huskers’ 35-point second quarter. In the third quarter he took a screen pass from Tim Hager for a 78-yard touchdown and followed with a 60-yard touchdown on a draw play.
Johnson gained 192 yards on 10 carries. “That’s pretty good,” said Backfield Coach Mike Corgan in his best deadpan. Corgan has now seen four of his backs have 100-yard days this season.
Throw in the pass play, and the sophomore from Omaha Westside gained 270 yards on 11 plays, an average of 24 yards for each time he touched the ball.
“It’s the kind of game all backs think about having,” said Johnson. “But it’s unbelievable right now.”
The estimated 15,000 Nebraska fans were given some anxious moments, but not by Kansas. They came when Berns left with his injury in the second quarter and when Sorley was injured on the first possession of the second half.
“Junior Miller has a charley horse, and Tom strained his knee,” Osborne said. “Both of them should be all right. Richard Berns aggravated the charley horse he got last week. I think he’ll be all right, but I don’t know.”
Sorley directed Nebraska to touchdowns on six of the team’s eight possessions in the first half. Nebraska didn’t score on the first possession of the second half because Ken Brown lost a fumble after taking a pass to the Jayhawk 25. The Huskers then scored on their next three possessions.
By the time third-team quarterback Jeff Quinn had scored the Huskers’ final touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run with 13:56 left in the game, Nebraska had already gained 677 yards total offense.
Nebraska could have added another touchdown, but Tim McClady lost a fumble at the KU 1 to end a march that started at the NU 8.
Kansas, which scored in the second half on a 2-yard run by quarterback Harry Sydney and in the third quarter on a 3-yard run by Sydney, followed the McCrady fumble with a 99-yard touchdown drive directed by freshman Kevin Clinton. The touchdown came on a 4-yard pass to freshman tight end Russ Bastin.
Clinton was responsible for much of the KU yardage in the game. He completed 16 of 31 passes for 156 of the Jayhawks’ 262 yards in the air. Kansas gained only 70 on the ground.
Kansas entered the game with the best pass defense statistics in the Big Eight. Nebraska decided to test the Jayhawk secondary in the second quarter and found it vulnerable.
Kansas had been allowing 99.6 yards a game passing. Sorley passed for 170 yards in the second quarter alone. He completed seven of eight attempts and three went for touchdowns — two of 44 yards to Junior Miller and one of 17 yards to Tim Smith for his first score of the season.
The first two possessions showed the game had the makings of a rout.
Kansas took the opening kickoff and lost 4 and 13 yards on its first two plays to the KU 3. Nebraska took over at the 50 following the KU punt and scored nine plays later on a 2-yard run by Berns.
Berns bruised his thigh later in the quarter, one one of only two possessions that the Huskers failed to score on in the first half, and didn’t return the rest of the game.
The 35-point second quarter came in this fashion:
— Sorley scored on a sneak after completing a 20-yard pass to Miller that carried to the 2. The 51-yard drive took eight plays.
— A Tim Fischer pass interception gave the Huskers the ball at the KU 36. On the first play, Johnson broke the longest run by a Nebraska back this season when he carried 64 yards for the score. Johnson took a pitch to the sideline and cut back to the middle of the field where he found clear sailing to the goal.
— Kansas made its first trip into Nebraska territory, but was stopped on fourth down when Dan Pensick dropped Tracy Levy for a 6-yard loss. Nebraska took over at the 37 and ran three plays before Sorley hit Miller open in the middle for a 44-yard touchdown.
— Only 1:30 remained in the half after Kansas scored on a 2-yard run by Harry Sydney. The Huskers scored with 21 seconds to spare. Miller got his second touchdown on another 44-yard pass play.
|Yards per carry||1.8||7.8|
Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.
|Iowa State||Oct. 7|
|Kansas State||Oct. 14|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 28|
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