Norman, Okla.—After 10 successful weeks of doing things their own way, Nebraska’s Cornhuskers came up with an Oklahoma-style game in the championship engagement with the Sooners Saturday.
Trouble is, Oklahoma has had more practice at give-away, and has learned to get away with it. Consequently, the Sooners, playing more like Nebraska, came away with the ALL in the game the Huskers had said was all or nothing.
So the Sooners, thriving on Nebraska’s new-found interest in turnovers, used the 35-10 victory before 60,286 howling fans as its ticket to Miami and the Big Eight’s representative in the Orange Bowl.
Future record books will show that Nebraska and Oklahoma tied for the Big Eight title in 1975, but there was no discussion about championships in the Husker quarters afterward.
So those beards the Huskers had been grooming the past few weeks will come off now after the Sooners’ dominance grew to four straight. Oklahoma blotted Nebraska’s undefeated season and possible national championship plans just as they had in the final games of 1964 and ‘66.
Nebraska coach Tom Osborne touched lightly on the outstanding season (10-1) theme when he said, “We have to look at the whole season. This team has probably played as close to its potential as any team I’ve seen.”
“They (Husker players) gave it all they had. They were trying to win. We could have held the score down. This game could just as easily have gone the other way, and I think Barry (OU coach Switzer) would say the same thing,” Osborne said.
Osborne had said earlier in the week that the outstanding characteristic of his team was its ability to protect the football. 10 games had produced only 14 turnovers. Oklahoma, however, had been crippling itself all season with 31 turnovers.
But in this monumental contest that left Nebraska still considering a Fiesta Bowl offering, the Huskers sent the Sooners on their way to three touchdowns after fumbles, another on a muffed punt and the fifth on a pass interception.
Nebraska lost four of five fumbles and had two interceptions. The interception total through 10 games was three.
—Nebraska quarterback Vince Ferragamo was decked by Scott Hill on a safety blitz, and Lee Roy Selmon recovered the fumble at the N.U. 42. Steve Davis, the Sooners’ chief Husker antagonist for three years, scored from the one after three magnificent defensive plays by the Huskers had prevented the Sooners from gaining an inch. That left it at 7-3 at the half.
—After a brief refresher course by O.U. fullback Jimmy Littrell, whose fumble led to a 32-yard Husker drive and 10-7 lead on Monte Anthony’s touchdown drive, Ferragamo tried to fox the Sooners with a quarterback draw. Lee Roy Selmon didn’t take the bait and Mike Phillips took the fumble. Seven plays later, Horace Ivory made it 14-10 from five yards late in the third quarter.
—When the Sooners finished with their demonstrations, the Huskers were on their own. Punt returner Jimmy Burrow, who may have been surprised to see Tinker Owens kick one as far as 41 yards, muffed the punt, and Lee Hover recovered at the Nebraska nine. Elvis Peacock pushed it to 21-10 from the three.
—Then Ferragamo threw his second interception, to cornerback Jerry Anderson, who hiked it back 23 yards to the Husker 10. Three plays later, Davis made it 28-10.
—On the following kickoff, Nebraska was at the desperation point, and John O’Leary passed cross field to Bobby Thomas, who fumbled away to Greg Sellmyer, Billy Sims said thanks with a touchdown 52 seconds from the end.
True, Oklahoma contributed to Nebraska’s two scores and lost three of four fumbles. But the Sooners have learned to live with such things.
Sooner Davis, who was gained more than 100 yards rushing against the Huskers three consecutive years, said the difference was that more pressure was on Nebraska.
“We knew they hadn’t been pressured all year. We’ve been in the hole all year long. We’ve been there so many times, it’s an advantage.”
Perhaps the biggest hole for the Sooners, and Nebraska’s most obvious opportunity to take charge of the game, came in the final minute of the first half when the Huskers were trailing, 7-3.
Starting from its 40 after a punt, Ferragamo passed over the middle 44 yards to Chuck Malito, completed another to Tony Davis, then put the ball a yard from the goal when Sidney Brown was called for interfering with receiver Thomas in the end zone.
The clock ran out, and Osborne said later: “I probably would have thrown the ball if I had it to do over. We called time out and decided to run the isolation away from the power to freeze the linebacker. I thought we could make a yard.”
“It was just a guessing game” right over (left tackle Bob) Lingenfelter.
Through 50 minutes it was the kind of game befitting a Big Eight championship. Both defense were dominant, and the breaks and field position that are supposed to decide such games were deciding it.
Nebraska generally had the better of it, with the impetus of an opening drive that took 6:20 and carried from the N.U. 20 to the Sooner 13. On fourth and one, Coyle missed a 30-yard field goal attempt when the center snap was low.
Nebraska went for the field goal, Osborne said, because “We just wanted to get on the board. I’m real disappointed in not scoring on that first drive. If it wasn’t for a couple of turnovers in the second half it might have been a different game. But that’s football. We had enough bounce our way the rest of the season.
Davis ran the option keepers 29 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Ivory had 75 yards on 17 carries as the Sooners out rushed the Huskers, 278-70.
The total offense advantage, however, was only 296-245. Ferragamo completed 13 of 25 passes for 146 yards and had two intercepted. Terry Luck completed both of his passes in the final minute.
Nebraska fullback Tony Davis, who ended his Big Eight career on a sour note by getting tossed out of the game in the last minute, led Nebraska’s rushers with 66 yards on 16 carries. But he was 41 yards short of finishing as Nebraska’s all-time leading rusher.
That’s the way Saturday was for the Huskers. Everything came up short.
In the dismal surroundings of the Nebraska locker room, senior defensive tackle Jerry Wied noted that Steve Davis repeatedly picked up first downs on third down with four, five and six yards to go.
“As long as we were hanging onto the ball, our defense played pretty well,” Osborne said. “But when we fumbled on our end, it began to crack.”
Over on the winning side, Davis, surrounded by a bevy of writers, was tossing an orange from hand to hand. Then he peeled it and ate it. “I can eat oranges better than I can eat Fiestas,” he said with a wide grin.
“We had a very good scheme today,” he said. Basically, the Sooners ran to the short side of the field, toward the nearest sideline, while Nebraska was unbalanced to the west side.
“The wishbone offense makes you balance up your defense. Nebraska tried to unbalance it, and we took advantage of it.”
“Vince is just a super quarterback for Nebraska’s offense. It was more the Selmons and other people (responsible for the setbacks) than him.”
Nebraska’s Davis, meanwhile, was circulating throughout the Husker quarters, speaking to underclassmen.
“I was telling them not to forget anything that happened out here today. I want them to remember it a year from today.”
|Yards per carry||3.9||1.8|
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 18|
|Kansas State||Nov. 8|
|Iowa State||Nov. 15|
|Arizona State||Dec. 26|
Nebraska has played 14 games on Nov. 22. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group