LINCOLN — Nebraska punter Scott Gemar took a shower, out of habit, Saturday afternoon. He had punted at the end of the first series against Kansas State. Thereafter, K-State’s resistance steadily waned, and Gemar took the rest of the day off.
So dominant were the Cornhuskers offensively and defensively during a 55-8 sashay that the lone Wildcat touchdown in the final two minutes was warmly received by the remnants of a Memorial Stadium turnout of 76,121.
“At least they got something,” said Gemar, referring to the meager consolation score. The other good thing that happened to K-State was a Big Eight near-record 93-yard punt by Don Birdsey, Gemar’s Wildcat counterpart.
Cornhusker Coach Tom Osborne was so pleased with developments that he allowed himself the uncommon luxury of conducting business in the second half while keeping an ear cocked for public address scores on the higher-ups in the national rankings. Then he delighted his squad by giving them a rare day off today.
It was a relaxing outing on a gorgeous 74-degree afternoon for the nation’s No.5-ranked team. The Huskers had kept pace with Oklahoma by maintaining a perfect Big Eight slate. They had beaten the spread handily while raising their record to 8-1. Kansas State suffered a predictable fate for a team that is winless in the conference and now stands at 2-7.
Nebraska sent out an army of talent that included six quarterbacks and 18 ball carriers contributing to a season-high offensive show. Jeff Quinn, the first of the half-dozen, notched three more touchdown passes on his Big Eight-leading log and proved he could throw deep. Roger Craig, the third of six I-backs, showed he could run far, with a mere nine carries netting 183 yards. His per-carry average, then, was a smidgen over 20 yards.
So deep in runners were the Huskers that freshman Jeff Smith, the fifth I-back, was the No. 3 rusher with 49 yards while carrying only four times in the fourth quarter. Smith outgained by 13 yards Wildcat leader Mark Hundley, who picked up 36 yards. Husker starter Jarvis Redwine retired after the first series of the second half with 75 yards on 11 carries.
Osborne said, “At this stage of the season, it’s nice to have a game like this and rest some of those people.”
Defensive end Derrie Nelson and middle guard Curt Hineline were allowed to watch while injuries healed. Center Dave Rimington played briefly on a sore ankle.
Nebraska posted season highs in total offense and passing while outyarding K-State 692-193 and 197-115, respectively. The passing total came against the nation’s top-ranked pass defense.
Birdsey’s 48.6-yard average on 10 punts was the sole bragging point for the outgunned visitors until freshman Hundley ran 19 yards for a face-saving touchdown with 1:52 remaining. K-State got the two-point conversion on a pass from Doug Bogue, Darrell Ray Dickey’s backup, to John Liebe.
With the touchdown, K-State escaped the ignominy of absorbing the worst beating in the series since Jumbo Stiehm’s Rollers inflicted a 59-0 drubbing in 1911.
As it turned out, the Wildcats needed to turn back only a modest four years to find a Nebraska team doing worse damage. That year, it was 51-0.
Kansas State actually won the first exchange of blows. The opening Husker series netted four yards and Gemar’s punt. K-State drove to the Nebraska 28 before stalling on its first attempt.
Thereafter, Nebraska scored on its next six possessions and eight of the next nine while taking leads of 34-0 at the half and 48-0 after three quarters.
Osborne said, “In some ways, it was as complete a game as we’ve played in a while. We were genuinely concerned about Kansas State the way we played last year.” Nebraska won 21-12 last year in Manhattan.
After the opening backfire, Nebraska’s scoring spree went:
Kevin Seibel, 27-yard field goal. Craig Johnson, two-yard run. Jeff Finn, two-yard pass from Quinn. Todd Brown, seven-yard pass from Quinn. Seibel, 50-yard field goal. Mark Mauer, No. 2 quarterback, 15-yard run.
Kansas State, meanwhile, was managing one first down. Worse, regular quarterback Dickey, Coach Jim’s son, was finished with an injury in the second quarter. He had thrown five passes without a completion.
Sophomore quarterback Bogue came on for the Wildcats and completed eight of 18 passes for 115 yards, mostly against the NU reserves.
Quinn raised his touchdown passing total to 13 while completing seven of 13 passes for 153 yards. Two were dropped.
Quinn, however, was most pleased with a completion that did not figure in a scoring drive. It was a deadly-accurate 56-yard archer beyond two defenders into Brown’s outstretched hands along the right sideline. Quinn also had a 39-yard strike for a touchdown to John Noonan up the middle in the third quarter.
“Those two were really nice,” Quinn said. “I haven’t thrown deep much, and some people have questioned whether I could. I had underthrown Slick (wingback Anthony Steels) earlier, and I really needed that second half.
Mauer, Quinn’s junior understudy, needed the first. “It felt good to get in there in the second quarter, but the feeling of being so far ahead (27-0) was still there. There wasn’t much pressure,” he said. Mauer hit Noonan and Steels on 15-yard passes before Mauer ran an option the last 15 to run the count to 34-0.
Craig had gained only 49 yards at the time, but his presence accounted for Mauer’s touchdown, the quarterback said. “Roger was going good, and they were pursuing so much to the outside, I just turned up and nobody was around,” he said.
On Quinn’s third touchdown pass, making it 41-0, Noonan was hit in the secondary, righted himself and outran Gary Morrill. “The cornerback chucked me pretty good. I almost went down,” Noonan said. “Jeff has been throwing the ball well in other games, but he really looked good today.”
Craig was at his rip-snorting best after that. On the sixth touchdown drive, he raced 25 yards and three plays later got the call on a pitch to his left on fourth-and-two. He made the corner, ricocheted off three tacklers and fled 32 yards to the end zone.
The best was yet to come. His ninth and last carry early in the fourth was a twisting, ripping 69-yard gem to the K-State 11.
“The line blocked well. I owe everything to them,” the soph star said. “I was really surprised to get that many yards. I was just running tough. I wanted to show my backfield coach (Mike Corgan) I could run through people. We’ve worked pretty hard on that,” he said.
Craig’s longest run of the season also earned the gratitude of Mark Moravec, who scored the final touchdown from the 1 and ended a series of season-long near-misses for the David City sophomore.
“I lost count of how many times I came close,” Moravec said.
Among the happiest of the Husker subs was Tim Holbrook, a sophomore defensive back from Lexington, who delayed the Kansas State touchdown bid with an interception at the Nebraska 2 and set a Husker non-scoring runback record of 64 yards. “The bear got me. I ran out of gas,” Holbrook said. “We didn’t want to see them score, but I’m happy. Everybody got to play.”
Kansas State finally broke through with a 66-yard drive after Eric Knoll, the sixth Nebraska quarterback, fumbled. Bogue completed two passes for 27 yards, and Hundley gained 17 yards before his touchdown run.
Birdsey’s 93-yard punt in the fourth quarter was one yard short of the Big Eight record by John Hadl of Kansas in 1959.
Seibel’s two field goals made him four of five this season. The long one was two yards short of his best of 52 against Colorado.
“This one felt better,” Seibel said. “The air up there (Boulder) helps some. If you can kick in Lincoln, you can kick just about anywhere. When you have your own crowd see it, they know you can do it.”
|Yards per carry||1.9||7.6|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas 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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