AMES, Iowa — Nebraska kicked apart a trap set out by Iowa State Saturday, strode steadfastly toward another laid by Oklahoma and got a whiff of the ultimate bait — a redemptive date with Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
The Cornhuskers scrubbed their feint-and-jab techniques in favor of a toe-to-toe job while wheeling to a 35-0 verdict over an Iowa State team that tended to self-destruct. It was the third shutout of the season for the Blackshirt defense (the first came against Iowa, 57-0, and the second against Kansas, 54-0). Nebraska held Dwayne Crutchfield, backbone of the ISU offense, to 69 yards on 20 carries.
With its Big Eight record unscarred, Nebraska advanced to the conference championship bout in Lincoln Saturday against Oklahoma, which kept pace with a 17-7 win over Missouri.
“It’ll be for all the marbles next week, just like it usually is,” Cornhusker Coach Tom Osborne said. “We’re into the big one,” chortled Husker I-back Craig Johnson.
ABC-TV announced Saturday that it will televise the Husker-Sooner party regionally, starting at 11:35 a.m.
The Huskers were on the bus heading home when word came down that the Big Eight representative will draw Florida State in the Orange Bowl. An 18-14 loss to the Seminoles is the only blot on Nebraska’s 9-1 record.
The Nebraska-Oklahoma loser will find its place in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, against Mississippi State.
The Cornhuskers went cross country for an opening touchdown before a chilled audience of 52,942 — second largest in ISU Stadium history — and added the other four following fumbles. The Cyclones, whose losing miseries reached five games to match an opening winning streak, had said they would need the luck of ISU tackle Shamus McDonough’s Irish ancestors to stay with the Huskers. But, in a perfectly luckless display, Iowa State fumbled six times and lost each.
Iowa State, playing with jut-jawed tenacity, neutralized the Husker wide game and reduced the Husker passing threat to a minor role while playing give-and-take well into the second quarter. But with a Nebraska defense playing at its stingiest, the Cyclone offense presented only a distant threat.
Nebraska pounded the Cyclone interior into submission. It was sheer power against power: Nebraska fullback Andra Franklin vs. ISU tailback Crutchfield.
Franklin won with 104 yards.
Franklin had more help. Backup fullbacks Jim Kotera and Phil Bates gained 57 and 25 yards, respectively. Crutchfield, who was sidelined twice with aching ribs, failed in his bid for the 96 yards that would have elevated him to the top of the school season rushing chart.
Jarvis Redwine, Nebraska’s chief outside threat, was limited to 33 yards on nine carries. Roger Craig, entering third at I-back, had 57 yards on 16 carries.
The Blackshirt defense and helpers held Iowa State to 130 yards, which erased the 143 by Oklahoma State as the season low.
The Nebraska offense, which was leading the nation at a 535-yard clip, matched its season low of 368 yards against Florida State. Jeff Quinn’s 34 yards on three completions in 10 attempts also hit a season low.
Osborne expressed no surprise. “We were a little sporadic at times, but Iowa State ranked second in the league in total defense. It wasn’t easy.”
Osborne, hoarse from a cold and exhorting his players on a windy, near-freezing afternoon, said he was relieved. “I was very concerned about this game. We knew there was a chance we’d be flat. But we played well. It was a very hard-hitting game for three quarters. It’s always a cold, miserable experience over here. We did well under the circumstances.”
The Cyclones were playing with a last gasp to rescue their season. We felt they’d give it all they had, and they did. I’m very proud of our defense, especially in the second half,” Osborne said.
The Huskers tipped their offensive hand in the opening 79-yard drive when Franklin broke two tackles en route to a 42-yard gain. On the next play, Franklin ripped for 11 yards to the Cyclone 1.
Iowa State also issued a warning of what was to come. Quinn was forced to sneak twice before reaching the end zone.
The slugging match proceeded without further scoring into the final 2½ minutes of the first half, although Nebraska came within seven yards of the end zone before Redwine lost a fumble.
The game turned Nebraska’s way on the good timing of Husker sophomore guard Mike Mandelko of Lexington, Neb.
Mandelko was whisked into battle for one play when regular Joe Adams left after he was kicked in the calf. That play was a punt by Scott Gemar. Iowa State returner Joe Brown made a horrible decision to field the punt at his 5. Randy Schleusener stood Brown up and Anthony Steels and Dan Hurley knocked him down. The resulting fumble rolled into the end zone and was claimed for the touchdown by Mandelko.
“I couldn’t believe he fielded the ball,” said Mandelko, who scored his first touchdown since junior high school.
Mandelko was so unused to the experience that he did not know immediately that he had scored a touchdown. “I thought (at first) it might be a safety,” he said.
Adams said, “The name I called him wasn’t real nice. It was just in fun. I hobbled off for one play, and look what happens.”
The gift gave Nebraska a 14-0 lead at the half. Hurley said, “I knew it would be the second half before we put it away, but they helped us a lot. You’ve got to credit our defense for that. They were hitting hard.”
Nebraska failed to extend the lead when Kevin Seibel’s 51-yard field goal attempt was errant early in the third quarter, but two quick fumble-touchdowns pushed the lead to 28-0.
Crutchfield lost a fumble to David Clark at the Cyclone 33. Kotera and Johnson shoved the ball to the 1. From there, Quinn got his second scoring sneak.
On the next series, Rocky Gillis fumbled at the ISU 25, and Toby Williams made the recovery. On the second play, Quinn faked into the middle, and passed to wingback Tim McCrady, who turned the play into a 22-yard touchdown.
“The passing wasn’t quite as good as usual,” Osborne said. “Iowa State was in a tight man-to-man; it’s either a home run or not much.” He might have added that Iowa State is the national leader in pass defense.
Nebraska also fumbled six times but lost only three. The Huskers were stymied at the Iowa State 14 in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Mark Mauer lost a fumble. Gillis gave it back on the next play, and Craig scored the final touchdown and his team-leading 15th of the season, from the 3.
The Cyclones’ most serious scoring opportunities came in the final moments after Nebraska stalled at the ISU 17 when McDonough sacked sophomore quarterback Nate Mason.
Husker cornerback Andy Means snuffed one threat with an interception at the Nebraska 22, and middle guard Jeff Merrell recovered a fumble by reserve ISU quarterback David Worsham with 50 seconds left in the game. Iowa State had made its deepest penetration — to the Nebraska 18 — on the final drive before Merrell’s recovery.
“It was a sloppy s.o.b,” said Nebraska Backfield Coach Mike Corgan, “but Andra and Kotera ran in there pretty tough, and Craig Johnson drilled them pretty good.”
Franklin said, “The lucky break on the punt picked us up. We were dragging a little bit. The defense helped us out quite a bit. We couldn’t score and they (Cyclones) were right on our tail.”
Osborne said, “I felt we’d have to run the ball up the middle. Some of our option plays weren’t good because of the way they played in the secondary. We couldn’t get outside. The way they played their linebackers, we figured it would be good for the fullbacks and inside plays.”
Kotera said, “Coach Osborne told us all week we’d have to blow ‘em off the ball. That’s the way Oklahoma beat them (42-7). I can’t remember running outside sprints or options for any yards. Their monsters and corners were really flying up there.
“But I think their linebackers got tired. We ran one play four straight times, and they got easier to block each time.”
|Yards per carry||1.9||4.9|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|Penn State||Sept. 27|
|Florida State||Oct. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 18|
|Kansas State||Nov. 8|
|Iowa State||Nov. 15|
|Mississippi State||Dec. 27|
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