Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kan.—Nebraska’s resurgent football team, an eight-point underdog, played with eye-popping fury Saturday as it swept to its most lopsided victory over Kansas University in 21 years, 40-16.
The Cornhuskers of Coach Bob Devaney rammed the ball down the Jayhawks’ throats the first four times they had possession.
The score was 24-0 in less than 16 minutes. It mounted to 32-0 with only three minutes 35 seconds gone in the second quarter.
Smarting from the frustration of the previous week’s loss to Missouri, Nebraska made it 40-0 before Kansas could produce a touchdown against the second team late in the third period.
Halfback Willie Ross had declared after the Missouri game: “Kansas will pay for this.”
To the shock of the homecoming crowd of 38 thousand, he helped make good his prediction by speeding to three touchdowns.
Coach Jack Mitchell of Kansas had complained to the officials when Nebraska was late coming on the field for the opening kick-off.
But scant moments later, he had cause to regret the fact that Nebraska ever crossed the state line.
The defeat, its second in five conference games, wiped Kansas out of the Big Eight title picture.
By registering its fourth league victory in five starts, Nebraska kept alive its hopes for a share of the championship.
Nebraska could point with pride to these additional aspects of its overwhelming conquest:
—The third-largest score in the 68-year-old rivalry. N.U. won by 53-2 in 1940 and by 47-13 in 1927.
—Sparkling proof Devaney’s first-year team can win a “big game.” The record was 6-0 before the high-pressure encounter with unbeaten Missouri.
—Kansas, No. 2 in the nation in rushing, was outgained on the ground, 369 yards to 122. After the first half, Nebraska’s bulge was 253 to 40.
—Gale Sayers, the Omahan who had been pacing the K.U. attack, was not permitted to score.
When Nebraska came charging from the locker room to start the game, Coach Devaney jogged along with hat brim turned up and clapping his hands with the unassailable verve of an old grad with inside information.
His optimism was well founded.
Nebraska took the opening kick-off, scrimmage from its 32 and pounded across the K.U. goal line 10 plays later. A detailed look at this powerhouse thrust clearly shows the Huskers’ undeniable determination.
Ross, the fleet junior halfback from Helena, Ark., whirled around his right end for eight yards. Warren Powers zoomed through the middle for two, then six and a first down on the N.U. 48.
Kent McCloughan found solid resistance at the line but flipped to Quarterback Denny Claridge, who hustled around right end to the Jayhawk 48.
Ross followed blocker Gary Toogood for six yards and another first down. Powers, finding a huge hole in the right side, notched another first down on the 28.
McCloughan and Tyrone Robertson then cleared a path for Powers to the 24.
Ross shot through the right side for 19 and a first down on the five. Powers added one at the middle and Ross scored from the four as Bob Brown and McCloughan provided important blocks.
Thunder Thornton was the escort as Claridge added two points on a keeper through his left side. The game was five minutes old.
There couldn’t have been much help from Assistant Coaches George Bernhardt and Bill Jennings on the phone in their press box cubicle.
The Huskers weren’t being tricky: they simply were overpowering Kansas at every point of contact.
Sayers ran 17 yards on Kansas’ first scrimmage play. But the series was doomed a moment later when Dave Theisen tripped Sayer with a desperation grab while being knocked down by blocker Armand Baughman.
Following Tony Leiker’s punt, Nebraska barreled 78 yards in a dozen plays for touchdown No. 2.
First-down plays came on three plunges by Fullbacks Gene Young and Thornton. Immediately after an offside penalty shoved Nebraska back to the enemy 32, Ross bolted through the middle, cut to his right and streaked to the end zone.
Pursuers Gary Duff and Mike Shinn couldn’t close the gap to less than a couple of strides. This time Claridge passed to End Larry Tomlinson for the bonus conversion points.
One minute 56 seconds remained in the first quarter.
One the first down after the kick-off, Husker John Kirby—just as he had against Missouri the previous week—deflected a pass.
The foiled flip by Rodger McFarland was plucked by rookie Doug Tucker near the K.U. 40 and returned to the 16.
Theisen ran for five, Noel Martin bucked for eight and then hit the line again to deposit the ball inside the one.
Claridge hopped over the goal line as Toogood, Larry Kramer and Al Fischer led the charge. Coupled with Thornton’s conversion run, that made the score 24-0 with two seconds gone in the second quarter.
Unbelievably, Kansas already was out of the game, its five-year mastery of the Huskers irrevocably smashed.
Powers’ fourth-down stop of a Baughman plunge put the ball back in Nebraska’s hands 2 1/2 minutes later. The gamble failed on the K.U. 36.
McCloughan, the sophomore from Broken Bow who earned the starting right halfback assignment for this vital contest, raced to the 22, aided by Powers’ excellent fake.
Power banged for two yards, then Quarterback Claridge sent McCloughan speeding up the middle for a touchdown. Duff was an early defensive threat but End Bill Comstock chopped him down.
Again Thornton plunged for a pair of bonus points.
Although the half ended with the score 32-0, the Cornhuskers were good for a time-killing drive of 49 yards that carried to the Kansas 17.
The Scarlet-and-Cream ribbon for this highly-prized package was a 73-yard scoring thrust in the third quarter. Ross and Thornton produced the bulk of the gains.
The pay-off, from the 26, found Claridge pitching to Ross near the line of scrimmage. It was a great run, with Ross faking Con Keating and Jim Marshall and benefiting from Ron Michka’s block.
Claridge’s toss to McCloughan added the final two points.
Kansas never could get near Nebraska’s goal with its vaunted ground attack.
The first K.U. score came late in the third period with McFarland passing to Baughman, who made a one-handed grab, then gathered the ball in as he raced across the goal line on a play of 14 yards.
The other token touchdown was a 15-yard aerial from Brian Palmer to End Andy Graham. This drive was made possible by an N.U. third-team fumble and got its impetus from a 38-yard run by Sayers.
But history will not long recall what Kansas did this day.
|Yards per carry||4.1||5.2|
Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.
|South Dakota||Sept. 22|
|Iowa State||Oct. 6|
|North Carolina State||Oct. 13|
|Kansas State||Oct. 20|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 17|
|Miami (FL)||Dec. 15|
Nebraska has played 19 games on Nov. 10. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group