#4 Oklahoma 30
Nebraska 7

Nov. 21, 1953

Outclassed Huskers Lose Odd 30-7 Game

Bob Smith puts his head down ... and drills through the Oklahoma line for the Nebraska touchdown on a one-yard push. JOHN SAVAGE/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — Twenty-eight thousand chilled fans witnessed a lot of football oddities as Oklahoma trounced Nebraska, 30-7, Saturday afternoon.

There never was any question about Coach Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners making it 41 straight Big Seven games without a setback.

But a number of unusual situations kept the game interesting for fans who braved 32-degree weather.

Three Nebraska center snap-backs which sailed over the punter’s head contributed largely to the unorthodox complexion.

Three Different Culprits

Just to make it unanimous, each of three Huskers centers made one of the wild passes.

First Ted Britt sailed the ball far over Ray Novak’s head as he stood near the goal line in the first period.

The ball rolled into the snow back of the North end zone for an automatic safety — and gave Oklahoma a 2-0 lead.

In the third period it was Center Bob Oberlin who almost duplicated the snap-back, far too high for Novak to reach.

Novak to Rescue

But this time Ray executed one of the most unusual plays ever seen on the Husker field — or on any other college lot.

Novak retrieved the ball deep in the end zone. As he picked it up, with back to the field, he got off a trick kick, booting the ball back over his own head and out on the playing field.

It rolled out of bounds, however, only nine yards from the Husker goal.

But believe it or not, the nation’s No. 4 team couldn’t score in the next four plays.

Grigg Ganged, Fumbles

Fullback Bob Burris made only a yard, Buddy Leake added three and Gene Calame was held to another yard.

That made it fourth down and still four to go. Larry Grigg was ganged as he reached the goal line, and the ball squirted out of his hands.

Sophomore Jon McWilliams curled around the ball in the end zone for a touchback, giving Nebraska possession on the 20.

The third bad pass from center came late in the fourth quarter. And this time Jim Oliver was the guilty party.

Kicks on Run

His pitchback wasn’t quite as high as the earlier one, and Sophomore John Edwards was able to jump and get the ball.

But he had to take a few steps away from incoming tacklers, and kick on the run.

The boot went out on the Husker 25. And it set up the game’s final touchdown.

Just before Oliver’s bad snap-back, the Huskers had escaped a Sooner touchdown when Leake fumbled and Jerry Minnick recovered just a foot short of the goal.

One Husker March

In between those fumbles and bad center passes, the Huskers made a fine try. But they simply were outclassed by some very quick, rugged and fierce Sooner linemen.

Early in the second period, Oklahoma completed a 92-yard march when Grigg made the last yard to a touchdown — and Jack Ging’s extra-point kick made it 9-0.

At this point, the Huskers made their one successful offensive march. They went 63 yards without losing the ball after taking the kick-off.

John Bordogna, Bob Smith, Novak and McWilliams all contributed gains on this march, and Bordogna’s only pass was taken by Bill Schabacker for gain of eight yards.

Smith Goes Over

After the Huskers reached the Sooner five, as offside penalty gave then the ball just one yard from the goal. Smith promptly rammed off tackle for the touchdown. Novak’s kick cut the Sooner lead to 9-7. But it took the champions only a few minutes to hike it to 16-7.

A 76-yard drive required only seven plays sub Fullback Jerry Donaghey going 43 yards on one scamper. Merrill Green went the last five on a lateral from Calame.

The Huskers managed to hold the Sooners without additional points during 12 minutes of the third quarter.

But a string of solid gains by Burris ended with the fullback going the last eight yards to boost the score to 23-7.

Connor Lumbers 44

Nebraska had a scoring chance on another rare incident early in the fourth period.

Tackle Ted Connor grabbed a fumble in the air when Burris bobbled a pitch-out from Calame.

Some good blocking formed quickly in front of the Hastings senior, and he lumbered 44 yards before being forced out on the Sooner 16.

But four plays gained only two yards, and Nebraska lost the ball on downs on the 14.

Sooners Stick to Ground

Oklahoma subs added the last points when Jack Van Pool passed 10 yards to End Calvin Woodworth in the end zone only 13 seconds before the final gun.

Oklahoma made all but 26 of its 432 yards on the ground, trying only four passes and connecting twice.

Nebraska wound up with total net gain of only 122 yards, 115 of it made in the first half.

Smith failed in his bid to overtake the league’s leading ground gainer, Oklahoma’s Grigg. Bob started the day six yards behind Grigg and picked up only 51 yards to Grigg’s 66.

End of the Road

But Fullback Burris took the day’s rushing honors away from Grigg.

He found the middle of the Husker line vulnerable all afternoon and gained 153 yards on 20 carries. Not once was he stopped behind the line.

Oklahoma now must play Oklahoma A&M next Saturday before pointing toward Miami’s Orange Bowl game January 1.

And Nebraska can pack away its togs after a season which brought only three wins and one tie against six defeats.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.

See all games »

1953 season (3-6-1)

Oregon Sept. 19
Illinois Sept. 26
Kansas State Oct. 3
Pittsburgh Oct. 10
Miami (FL) Oct. 17
Missouri Oct. 24
Kansas Oct. 31
Iowa State Nov. 7
Colorado Nov. 14
Oklahoma Nov. 21

This day in history

Nebraska has played 13 games on Nov. 21. See them all »

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