LINCOLN — Saturday’s Oklahoma State-Nebraska football game was billed as a two-man show, with Cowboy tailback Ernest Anderson and Husker I-back Mike Rozier as the stars.
But what the 76,387 fans at Memorial Stadium saw was a record-shattering solo performance.
Rozier, the No. 5 rusher in the country, carried 33 times for 251 yards and four touchdowns to lead Nebraska to a 48-10 romp over Oklahoma State.
With his career-best effort, Rozier sent the Nebraska record-keepers scurrying back to their desks to alter the following lists.
- Most yards rushing in a single season: Rozier increased his total to 1,379 yards, surpassing Bobby Reynolds’ mark of 1,342 in the nine-game 1950 season. Saturday was Rozier’s ninth game of 1982.
- Most yards rushing in a career: Rozier zoomed past six players to move into the No. 3 spot with 2,322 yards. The Camden, N.J., junior trails I.M. Hipp and Rick Berns. The players he passed were Monte Anthony, Tony Davis, Jarvis Redwine, Reynolds, Jeff Kinney and Roger Craig.
- Most yards rushing in a single game: Rozier moved into third with his 251 yards behind Berns’ 255-yard day against Missouri in 1978 and Hipp’s 254-yard effort against Indiana in 1977.
While Rozier was breaking records, Anderson was limited to his second lowest rushing total of the season. The Orange, Texas, junior got just 68 yards on 15 carries before leaving the game with 4:06 left in the third quarter with sore ribs.
Anderson entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher with 189.7 yards per game average. Only Oklahoma has held him to fewer yards - 59 on 20 carries.
Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne had high praise for Rozier, who nine times had runs of 10 yards or more.
“He had some good blocks,” Osborne said, “and then there were some plays where he made something out of nothing. He did some great things on his own.”
One of the best individual performances came on the play in which he broke Reynolds’ record.
Rozier went to the right on a pitch play, was stacked up at the line of scrimmage, then burst into the clear to prance 37 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“I thought the guy had me tackled,” Rozier said. “I was kind of tired. After he let go of my legs, though, I knew I had a touchdown.”
With Nebraska breezing to a 21-7 halftime lead and a 35-7 margin after three periods, about the only drama was whether Rozier would break any records.
Rozier, who said he was bothered by two leg cramps, was left in the game to get Reynolds’ record. But he was removed later, even though Osborne said he knew the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder was just four yards short of Berns’ single-game mark of 255.
“We want him to do something next year,” Osborne said, jokingly. But he was serious when he added:
“I’d feel awfully crazy if he hurt a knee or something happened to him. I’m not much for records. If he can make them legitimately, fine. But I don’t believe in just going out and going for records.”
Rozier said he was happy to get the record, but didn’t let that overshadow the need for the Huskers, 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big Eight, to beat Oklahoma State, 2-4-2 and 1-2-2.
“Every week I just try to go out and win the ball game,” Rozier said. “I try to play the best I can so we can get back to the Orange Bowl.”
But while Osborne praised Rozier, he passed kudos to the supporting cast, too.
“Other than maybe that one long pass, this might have been our best football game of the year,” Osborne said.
The long pass was a 63-yard bomb from quarterback Ike Jackson to Jim Evans just 58 seconds in the half to cut NU’s lead to 21-7.
“Offensively,” Osborne continued,”considering they had a very good defensive football team, I thought we moved the ball at times remarkably well.”
That included doing it without quarterback Turner Gill for the second half.
Gill departed late in the second quarter with a bruise to his right leg, just above the ankle. That’s the same leg that Gill suffered nerve damage to last year.
Gill, who was limping slightly after the game, said he thought he got hurt on an option play, but he wasn’t sure.
“I’m all right,” he said. “this is a whole different thing. I don’t even know what happened. I could have played if necessary.”
Backup Bruce Mathison also had to leave in the third quarter, when he began seeing double, Osborne said. Nate Mason and Craig Sundberg finished at quarterback for Nebraska.
While Gill was in, he directed Nebraska on first-half scoring drives of 73 yards with Irving Fryar scoring from 13 yards; 59 yards, capped by Jamie Williams’ 9-yard pass from Gill; and 72 yards, which Rozier finished with a 4-yard score, barrelling over OSU defensive back Rod Brown at the 2.
The score would have been even greater at half if split end Ricky Simmons had held onto Gill’s 37-yard pass in the end zone on the first possession.
“I lost it in the sun,” Simmons said. “I sure didn’t drop it on purpose.”
While the Huskers were rolling, Oklahoma State found little room to run.
Anderson, who ran for a 74-yard touchdown the first time he touched the ball this season, was smothered for a 1-yard loss the first time he touched it Saturday.
Anderson did break one play for 15 yards, but did little else.
“Somebody said he was a little gunshy at first, but it didn’t look that way to me,” said linebacker Steve Damkroger. “I couldn’t tackle him.”
But defensive back Neil Harris and middle guard Jeff Merrell said they thought Anderson, who entered the game with a rib injury and toe, was a little tentative.
“I think he’s a real good back,” Harris said, “But a couple of times, when he got gang tackled, he got up kind of slow and looked like he didn’t want any more.”
Merrell said “he really didn’t look like he wanted to run with a lot of authority. But he’s a good back.”
“People have been giving us a hard time about our defense. Stopping the run is one of our strongest points. It’s going to be hard for anybody to run on us.”
It was supposed to be difficult to run on Oklahoma State, too. The Cowboys had been allowing just 106.2 yards per game rushing.
But Rozier personally had 100 yards with 7:24 left in the second quarter.
After scoring his second touchdown, a 17-yarder, to give NU a 28-7 lead, Rozier had 146 yards just more than three minutes into the third quarter.
His third TD, a 2-yard run with 6:35 left in the third, left him just 2 yards short of 200. Rozier tied Reynolds’ mark with 13:28 left in the game, then broke off his 37-yarder for a score to break the mark.
Nebraska, the nation’s leading rushing team, ran for 422 yards and passed for 43.
Osborne credited his veteran offensive line for the output.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever had a better offensive line.”
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, had 101 yards rushing and 188 passing.
The Cowboys were frustrated most of the day by poor field position. In their first nine possessions, the Pokes’ started at their 19, 20, 20, 18, 18, 20, 18, 20 and 14.
One of the few Cowboy bright spots defensively was wiped out by a penalty.
Brown stepped in front of Fryar to intercept a Gill pass in the first quarter, but a roughing the passer infraction allowed Nebraska to keep the ball.
After Nebraska took a 14-0 lead, the Cowboys completed passes of 22 and 15 yards around a 10-yard burst by Anderson to spark a drive to the NU 11.
But on third-and-four, monster Tim Holbrook blitzed and sacked Jackson for a 16-yard loss.
Place-kicker Larry Roach, who kicked a field goal against every Cowboy foe last year except Nebraska, came on and missed a 44-yarder.
The miss broke a string of nine straight for Roach, tying the league record set by Bruce Kallmeyer of Kansas last year.
Roach did make a 42-yarder late in the fourth quarter to cap OSU’s scoring.
Nebraska kicker Kevin Seibel also broke a record Saturday. His extra-point kick after the first NU touchdown was his 57th straight, breaking his own record of 56 straight that ended last year at Missouri. Seibel kicked five more to raise his record to 62.
|Yards per carry||2.7||5.9|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.
|New Mexico State||Sept. 18|
|Penn State||Sept. 25|
|Kansas State||Oct. 16|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 6|
|Iowa State||Nov. 13|
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