LINCOLN — Nebraska dusted off some old favorites — like the forward pass, the pass-grabbing of Junior Miller and the running of I.M. Hipp — Saturday while tossing aside Iowa State 34-3 and marching along toward Oklahoma and the Orange or Cotton Bowls.
The Cornhuskers, attaining a 10-0 record for the third time in the decade, made short work of the Cyclones, scoring the first five times they had the ball and breezing through a 25-point second quarter en route to a 28-0 lead at the half.
They played out the remainder on a Miami-style 70 degree afternoon before a home-finale turnout of 76,049 at Memorial Stadium with one ear cocked for returns from other precincts.
They learned that Oklahoma had held off Missouri 24-22 in Columbia to keep the Sooners also unbeaten in the Big Eight and set up the climactic championship in Norman, Okla., Saturday.
That was good news because an Oklahoma loss would have queered a nice insurance package the Cotton Bowl offered the Big Eight runnerup. The winner will qualify for the Orange Bowl.
The Huskers also learned that the hoped-for shot at top-ranked Alabama in the Orange Bowl won’t come off because the Tide headed off toward the Sugar Bowl when Georgia lost to Auburn. The Big Eight champion, therefore, will draw unbeaten Florida State in Miami.
That was one of the few disappointments for the Huskers this day. Even a season-long string of fourth-quarter shutouts that ended with Cyclone Alex Gilfords’ 22-yard field goal 1:37 from the end mattered little.
Much of the concern about the Nebraska offense the past two weeks faded in the tuneup for the Sooners.
Mainly, the pass was back.
Jeff Quinn, who completed nine of 10 passes — including a 2-point conversion — in the first half and threw two touchdown passes to tight end Miller, insisted, “It was never gone. The game dictates what you do. The things we did just happened to open up.”
Miller, who caught six passes to match his total of the previous five games and ran three end-arounds, was so busy, he said, that he “got winded a couple of times. I guess I’ll have to get myself back into shape.”
Hipp was expected to play “only in a pinch,” Coach Tom Osborne said, but NU’s all-time leading rusher entered the game in the second quarter and rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries while feeling no pain in an ailing big toe for the first time in six weeks.
It was just the kind of game Dr. Tom Osborne, the head Husker, ordered.
“We didn’t play a perfect game, but we regained some momentum. We came out of this game in pretty good shape. I think we’re in a better position for Oklahoma than we’ve been in for a long time,” Osborne said.
With the Blackshirt defense playing with its usual domineering style, Osborne felt comfortable benching I-back Jarvis Redwine and defensive end Derrie Nelson in the first half after slight ankle sprains and saving them for the Sooners.
The Huskers so thoroughly dominated the first half that they had run 41 plays to Iowa State’s 9 as the score reached 21-0 in the second quarter.
At the half, with the score 28-0, Nebraska had controlled the ball for 22 minutes 56 seconds to the Cyclones’ 8:04. Iowa State did not register a first down until 25:52 had been played.
The Cyclones had crossed midfield only twice until a fourth-quarter drive, leading to the field goal against the reserves, accounted for 62 of their 127 total yards.
When they crossed over in the third quarter, they were shoved back onto their own side on sacks of quarterback Terry Rubley by Mark LeRoy and Rod Horn.
After the field goal ended the fourth-quarter string and ruined the shutout, Defensive Coordinator Lance Van Zandt said, “No, that doesn’t bother me. We still won.”
He did not send the Blackshirts back out because “it would really have been degrading to the second defense to pull them out in a situation like that.”
With a major bowl game assured and the annual bash with 9-1 Oklahoma set up for another dramatic finish, Osborne said, “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to assure going to a major bowl. But, naturally, we’d rather go to the Orange Bowl because of what it represents.
“I think we’ve got a good football team to take down there (Oklahoma). We’ve got that momentum back. This is the best defense we’ve had to play Oklahoma in several years. To play a great game, you have to have a great defense.”
“I’m not too concerned about Jarvis. He wanted to go back in, but we felt if we held him out, maybe he’d be at full speed for Oklahoma.”
Iowa State came in badly battered and injury-depleted from a 3-6 season. Its defense resisted heroically on the first two Husker offensive attempts, and Dean Sukup drove home field goals of 27 and 24 yards to give him 12 in 15 attempts this season.
Before it was over, however, Quinn’s deadly passing accounted for 163 yards on 11 completions in 17 attempts (Miller dropped two). Fourteen rushers contributed to the 311 yards by the infantry while the Huskers built a 474-127 edge in total offense.
It was only 3-0 after one quarter, but Nebraska’s best session all season has been the second quarter, and it has also been Iowa State’s worst.
Sukup’s second field goal came on the first play of the second quarter.
Following three ISU plays and a punt, the Huskers ran seven straight running plays before Quinn faked into the middle and hit Miller on a short pass to the left. The rangy tight end put a move on Bill Herren and Larry Crawford inside the 10 and loped on in. Quinn made it 14-0 on a 2-point pass to wingback Kenny Brown.
After Brent Williams recovered a fumble at the Iowa State 28, fullback Andra Franklin scored from in close, and the Huskers raced the clock for the next touchdown after taking over on their 42 with 2:41 left in the half.
Quinn’s 21-yard pass to Miller was the big bite, and the Ord junior rifled the 19-yard touchdown pass to Miller just beyond the reach of All-Big Eight safety Mike Schwartz and just inside the right pylon on the goal line.
With interest turning to Oklahoma and the bowls, the Huskers slowed down enough in the third quarter for Tim Smith to launch his only punt of the afternoon.
In the fourth, Quinn directed a 65-yard scoring drive that included passes of 11 yards to Tim Smith and 17 to Miller, a Quinn block that sprung wingback Tim McCrady on a 13-yard reverse and a Quinn touchdown sneak.
After surpassing the NU passing average by 114 yards for the previous three games, Osborne said, “Passing seems to be of great concern. We tried to throw a little bit so we won’t have to answer any questions about it. It took away from practice time to talk about it last week. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.”
Perhaps so, but Quinn said, “We didn’t plan to go to Junior so much. We set ‘em up with a lot of running.”
Miller was open more against the Cyclones because he was “getting off the ball better,” Osborne said. “He wasn’t being held up as much. That’s just something that happened.”
Miller admitted that he was “happier than I have been the last few games. Jeff really did a good job of getting the ball to me, and Coach Osborne gave me some chances to run.
“That gives me more confidence in catching the ball so I can do more for the team to help beat Oklahoma. To tell you the truth, I was getting a little down. I was losing interest in catching the ball, but it (pass-catching inactivity) was improving my blocking.”
Hipp, who announced his return to duty with runs of 11, 10 and 9 yards in the second quarter, said, “I didn’t think I was going to get to play at all” after reinjuring a toe that had developed gout. “I didn’t feel uncomfortable or afraid of it at all. I didn’t think about my toe once. It was the first time in five or six weeks that it didn’t hurt.
“Now, I think everybody’s ready for Oklahoma.”
|Yards per carry||1.0||4.5|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa 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|
Nebraska has played 17 games on Nov. 17. See them all »
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