LINCOLN — Nebraska played the gracious host right up to the opening kickoff Saturday. The Cornhuskers rolled out the red carpet, gave visiting Iowa the glad-hand and then promptly gave the Hawkeyes a 57-0 kick in the pants.
It had taken 33 years to get the ancient rivals back together last year in Iowa City. When it came the Huskers’ turn, they may have set back neighborly relations 30 years, which is how long it has been since the Hawks have been so rudely treated. The bully that time was Ohio State, 83-21.
There had been tentative plans to play next year’s game in Japan. That has fallen through, but there was no truth to press-box rumors that the hosts canceled the invitation when they heard the shocking report from Memorial Stadium Saturday.
The Huskers went for the throat on the third play, a 69-yard touchdown run by Jarvis Redwine. They didn’t let go until the final 27 seconds, when Bruce Mathison, the fourth quarterback, scored from the 11.
This was no flock of chicken hawks the Huskers were playing. Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne was “a little bit amazed” by the spread. In view of the number of veterans from a 24-21 scare in Iowa City last year and the Hawks’ opening 16-7 victory over Indiana.
Iowa Coach Hayden Fry was equally mystified. “If you’ve ever been shot at and hit, you know how it feels,” he said.
While matching the score of last season’s most lopsided game, against New Mexico State, Nebraska outyarded the guests 564-163. The margin in rushing was 456-44. Quarterback Jeff Quinn deftly mixed in eight consecutive completions for three touchdowns.
After Redwine’s opening bolt Osborne called a meeting and reminded his players that another Husker team had scored quickly, on the first play from scrimmage against Missouri two years ago, and lost, 35-31.
“When you score quick and easy, there is often a letdown,” he said.
Osborne was semi-prophetic. On the next Nebraska series, the Hawkeyes held for the only time in a 35-0 first half. Then they launched their most serious threat, reaching the Husker 12 before the first of two crippling fumbles sent Nebraska off and winging.
Hawk sophomore Jeff Brown, who had totaled 176 yards the week before and trailed only Redwine on the national rushing list, fumbled after a gain to the 12. Jimmy Williams recovered, to the delight of the bulk of the 76,029 in attendance.
There was a double trouble for Iowa on the play. A piling-on penalty shoved the ball out to the 27, and Quinn finished up the following drive with a 15-yard floater to soph split end Todd Brown for a 14-0 lead at the quarter.
Seconds later, cornerback Rodney Lewis shook Eddie Phillips loose from the ball on the kickoff, and Tony Felici recovered at the Iowa 17. From the 6, wingback Tim McCrady dropped to his knees in the end zone to cradle a Quinn pass for a 21-0 lead.
Thereafter, the major questions were:
— Would Quinn ever throw another incompletion after missing his first two attempts?
— How many yards would Redwine finally get
— Would Iowa ever again cross midfield?
— How many Huskers would join the fun?
Answers: No. One hundred fifty-three. Yes, for two plays in the fourth quarter. Eighty-five, same as in the 55-9 opener against Utah.
Redwine carried only 12 times for 153 yards. He had 100 on the third play of the second quarter, his seventh carry. It was Redwine’s seventh 100-yard-plus performance as a Husker.
His 69-yard dash bettered by two yards his week-old career longest.
“I couldn’t believe the hole at first,” Redwine said of his romp up the middle behind escort Jeff Finn, the tight end. “Jeff did a beautiful job on that block.”
Brown, the diminutive Iowa running back, worked 15 times for 51 yards in his no-contest duel with Redwine.
“This team is something else,” Redwine said. “The main thing about us is, we’re just trying to keep it up. We want to be high every week. Everybody is trying to stick together instead of playing like individuals.”
There were other individual accomplishments of note, however. Sophomore I-back Roger Craig was given more playing time after Craig Johnson was knocked dizzy and responded with 78 yards on a dozen carries and touchdowns from the 5 and 2.
Osborne put in an off-tackle option play for this game because the Iowa ends played wide and crashed hard. The result was 52 yards on nine carries by Quinn, 30 yards and a 5-yard touchdown by Mark Mauer and 32 yards and an 11-yard touchdown by Mathison.
“I thought if we could start running on them a little bit, we might rip them up,” Osborne said. “I thought we had a chance to get it going, but I didn’t know it would be like that. I thought it might go 35-14 or something like that if we got cranked up.”
After his opening incompletions, Quinn’s passing spree included touchdowns of 15 and 13 yards to Brown, a sophomore from Holdrege who had caught “two or three” touchdown passes in high school and none as a Husker, and a 6-yarder to McCrady in the first half.
Brown beat Bobby Stoops and Kevin Ellis on a run-pass option, and Quinn laid the ball perfectly over the defenders for the second touchdown. “I didn’t even think about dropping it. I just turned around, and the ball was there. I didn’t have time to think about it,” Brown said. “I was so happy, I wore myself out jumping around.”
Brown’s second touchdown reception; which made it 35-0, illustrated Osborne’s contention that Quinn did a superb job of calling audibles.
Facing a third-and-four from the 13 with less than three minutes before the half, Quinn called an option pass to his right. “I saw more people to the option side,” he said, so he called an automatic for a sideline pass to the other side.
Brown found himself himself in a jump-ball situation with Hawk defender Tracy Crocker near the 5. The ball popped up when they collided. Crocker fell down. Brown didn’t. Brown snatched the ball and tip-toed into the corner.
By the half, Nebraska had scored on five of its first six possessions and built a 277-81 yardage edge.
Redwine departed early in the third quarter with the Huskers perched on a 42-0 lead. His speed was apparent, but he also drew attention by driving into cornerback Crocker so hard that Crocker left the field wobbling.
Redwine saw a 24-yard gain nullified by a penalty in the third quarter, then came back with runs of 9 and 30 yards on the next two before leaving to an ovation with his tearaway shirt in shreds.
Osborne said he had mixed feelings about limiting Redwine to a dozen carries in a runaway. “I want Jarvis to do well, but I’d feel silly if he got hurt when we were so far in front. But he’s a senior, and he has some things going for him,” he said.
Such as the Heisman Trophy derby. Osborne said he remembered Oklahoma feeding the ball to 1969 Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens in the Sooners’ 47-0 win over Nebraska the year before.
“I’m not sure the Heisman Trophy is worth that expense. We’ve been on the other end of that,” Osborne said.
Three times in the second half, Nebraska failed to score after reaching the Hawkeye 1. Twice Iowa held on downs but Nebraska followed up with an interception by Husker Ric Lindquist and a safety when reserve tackle Jack Lonowski trapped Gales in the end zone. A penalty and fumble killed the other Husker threat.
Iowa’s offense briefly had something cooking with three straight completions in the second quarter, but Husker ends Jimmy Williams and Derrie Nelson snuffed that bid with back-to-back sacks of Phil Suess.
|Yards per carry||1.5||5.8|
Nebraska is 29-17 all-time against Iowa.
|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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