STILLWATER, Okla. — Kenny Brown cranked up his tape player in the Nebraska locker room late Saturday afternoon, and the joint started jumping to the beat of McFadden and Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”
Heading the rock tune that has become their theme song, the Huskers had just finished whipsawing undermanned Oklahoma State 36-0 to remain unbeaten after six games.
“Well, I hope there’s no stopping us now,” said Brown, who contributed heavily to the cause by setting a Cornhusker wingback record with 111 yards on eight carries. “If we keep playing like we are and keep getting better, there may not be.”
A record Lewis Field crowd estimated at 51,000 turned out on a blustery, sunny afternoon to watch the Huskers’ nation-leading offense dance a merry tune through, around and over the outgunned Cowboy defense for 596 yards.
The Husker defense, ranked sixth in the nation, was equally upbeat. It limited the Pokes, now 3-3, to 116 total yards while logging a third straight shutout, which is the longest Blackshirt string of skunkings since 1972.
In so doing, Nebraska extended its run of quarters without allowing a touchdown to 15 and scoreless quarters to 14, going back to the Penn State game. No opponent has scored against Nebraska in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma State’s offenses had not been treated so rudely in 77 games, not since the 1972 Huskers made it four straight shutouts by a 34-0 count.
“We want to climb just like the offense,” Defensive Captain L.C. Cole said. “To be ranked No. 1 in offense and No. 1 in defense, that’s what you call a team. This was one more step up the ladder.”
Indeed, the Huskers should climb a notch from their current No. 3 national ranking after Texas, the No. 2 team, was upset by Arkansas 17-14 Saturday.
As the Huskers filed out to the cheers of about 5,000 of their followers, safety Russell Gary was seen pumping the hand of I-back I.M. Hipp. Defensive end Derrie Nelson had an arm around split end Tim Smith. Tight end Junior Miller was congratulating Defensive Coordinator Lance Van Zandt. There was mutual admiration all around.
“If I got to give the game ball, I’d give it to the defense,” wingback Brown said. “But if I had two, I’d give the other one to the offensive line.”
With an offense heavy on misdirection registering 23 plays of 12 yards or longer, Nebraska improved on its 509-yards-per game average that is unequalled. The Blackshirts meanwhile enhanced their national stature by bettering their previous pace of 198 yards per game.
Oklahoma State backs managed but 37 yards on 27 carries. Eight Husker tackles for losses totaled 49 yards.
Starting Poke quarterback Harold Bailey completed only four of 13 passes and gave up an interception to Andy Means before going out injured in the third quarter. His replacement, John Doerner didn’t fare as well; he completed 3 of 15 and tossed one to freshman linebacker Steve McWhirter to set up the final touchdown.
So dominant were the Blackshirts that pass interference calls ranked among the top OSU offensive plays. The Cowboys crossed midfield only twice: to the 41 in the second quarter and to the 23 with the benefit of 22- and 19-yard interference penalties in the fourth.
OSU topped 100 total yards only because Ed Smith escaped for 21 yards on the last series when the Huskers were hanging back in a prevent defense.
“If they (Blackshirts) keep doing that (throwing shutouts), we won’t lose any,” Offensive Line Coach Milt Tenopir said. “It would have been a rout if we scored every time we were there.”
It was a virtual rout anyway, with Jarvis Redwine joining Brown in the 100-yard club and I.M. Hipp finally catching that elusive Husker career rushing record. Redwine totaled 15 times for 104 yards — his fourth straight outing over 100 — and scored touchdowns on runs of 29 and 5 yards.
Hipp, who has been hampered by a painful toe injury for three weeks, gained 54 yards on 12 carries. Rick Berns’ career record of 2,704 fell on a 23-yard scamper on the first play of the fourth quarter. Hipp then joined Redwine on the sidelines with a three year total of 2,719.
“That record means a lot of me,” said Hipp. “It’s something I can look back on after I’m finished here. But I just wanted to do my part so we could win.”
Until the Huskers wore down the Cowboys for two quick touchdowns in the last four minutes, the game was decidedly more one-sided than the score. It was 0-0. 15-0 and 22-0 at the breaks.
The Huskers had only a 23-yard field goal by Dean Sukup to show for non-touchdown drives that fizzled at the Cowboy 7, 6, 15 twice, 17, 20 and 28. The futility included a botched fake field-goal run by quarterback Tim Hager, after 6-5 Poke linebacker John Corker stretched to his fullest to rob Junior Miller of a clear touchdown pass in the opening series, and a missed 35-yard field goal attempt by Sukup in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma State, so depleted by injuries that Corker, its superb linebacker, was forced to play snapper on punts in the second half, hung in early. But Husker Coach Tom Osborne noted, “When you run 90 plays, it takes a toll on the defense.” Nebraska actually initiated 98 offensive plays to OSU’s 55.
The wind, gusting to 25 mph from the southwest, also hampered the Cowboys “because they rely more on the passing game. It was hard to throw the ball,” Osborne said.
Somebody forgot to tell Tim Hager. “It wasn’t that bad. You don’t have time to think about the wind,” he said.
Hager completed 10 of 17 passes for 163 yards, including a 42-yard floater to split end Tim Smith for the touchdown that made it 15-0 in the second quarter. But Hager threw a point-blank dart through tight end Jeff Finn’s fingers on the 2-point conversion try after Sukup had missed the conversion try on the previous touchdown.
“The running game was our salvation, offense-wise, because it was so tough to pass,” Osborne said.
And the counter sweeps, reverses and option pitches to wingback Brown were vital elements that kept the Pokes’ fast-flowing defense backtracking.
The Cincinnati senior did not score, but he averaged 13.8 yards on his eight carries to become the first Husker wingback, including Heisman Trophy winning Johnny Rodgers, to surpass 100 yards rushing.
“That play (counter sweep) works well if the linebackers aren’t keying on the guards,” Osborne said. “We pull both guards on the play, but they were keying on our backs. If something works, keep running it.”
Afterwards, Brown said, “I can’t imagine getting 100 yards.” Then he collared Backfield Coach Mike Corgan and jokingly asked for a tryout at I-back. “Haven’t I convinced you yet?” he asked.
The Huskers outyarded the home forces by 318-75 in the first half, but Osborne said there was something vaguely familiar about the 15-0 lead. “I told the players we were right where Missouri was, and I didn’t want it to get away from us.”
Missouri had led the Pokes 13-0 at intermission a week earlier before falling 14-13.
“If we came out and laid it on the ground, and thy got the big play, it could have been turned around,” Osborne said. “But we didn’t give up the big play, we didn’t turn the ball over, and we played consistently.”
Redwine’s second touchdown concluded a 75-yard, 10-play touchdown in the third quarter, and reserves polished it off with a pair of 5-yard touchdowns by Jim Kotera and Anthony Steels.
After McWhirter’s interception and return to the OSU 19, the wingback plays again were telling. Tim McCrady gained 14 yards on the first play, and Steels scored on the next.
“We played great defense again and a complete game,” Osborne said. “We didn’t score on several opportunities, but that’s a credit to Oklahoma State. They came at us hard with their goal-line defense. Other than that, we played pretty well.”
|Yards per carry||1.4||5.3|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.
|Utah State||Sept. 15|
|Penn State||Sept. 29|
|New Mexico State||Oct. 6|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 20|
|Kansas State||Nov. 10|
|Iowa State||Nov. 17|
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