| Posted: Thu Mar 19th, 2020 12:06 pm||
|This edition of our Blast from the Past series takes us back to Lincoln, Nebraska and one of the many crushing losses the Cornhuskers endured at the hands of OU and Barry Switzer, thanks in large part to a goal line stand for the ages....
From The Tulsa World, November 18, 1984…
SOONERS SHUCK HUSKERS, 17-7
Orange Bowl Berth Due OU-OSU Victor
By Bill Connors
LINCOLN, Neb. – Oklahoma tottered on the edge of the football cliff Saturday and then rediscovered its fourth-quarter magic of the ‘70’s and shoved No. 1-ranked Nebraska over the edge.
The No. 6 Sooners survived for three quarters on defensive grit and Nebraska turnovers.
Then came a 32-yard field goal by Tim Lashar, a goal-line stand featuring linebacker Brian Bosworth and cornerback Brian Hall and a 57-yard punt, by Mike Winchester.
OU coach Barry Switzer said the victory “was the biggest we have had in too many years.” Nebraska’s Tom Osborne, seeing a national championship slip away for the fourth straight year, said, “I think this is probably as disappointing a loss as we’ve ever had.”
Nebraska’s 136th consecutive sellout of 76,323 and a 48-state television audience saw the Cornhuskers dominate the defensive battle but never lead it. They threatened repeatedly to break a 7-7 tie in the second half when OU had paralyzing field position.
But of all things the Cornhuskers lost because of their kicking game, a phase in which they excelled. They missed three field goals and their fourth turnover – the one that eliminated them – was a fumbled punt by Jeff Smith, the nation’s No. 1 punt returner.
“It was our time to win,” Switzer said. “It was like old times. They helped us. But we helped ourselves. Our defense hung in there and when we finally got some field position, Danny burned them.”
Bradley passed 31 yards to split end Buster Rhymes and ran 26 yards to set up the go-ahead field goal by Lashar with less than one minute gone in the fourth quarter.
Then after the goal-line stand and Winchester’s punt – his longest of several fine kicks on a cool but dry day – ended in Smith’s fumble, Bradley struck again in the final minute.
Seeking only to protect a 10-7 lead and run out the clock, Bradley surprised the Cornhuskers by breaking free on an option around their left side and sprinting 29 yards for an insurance touchdown with 56 seconds left.
“That was kinda sneaky, wasn’t it?” Bradley chuckled.
The victory set up another showdown for OU, now 8-1-1 overall and 5-1 in the conference, next week with Oklahoma State for a share of the Big Eight Conference championship and a bid to the Orange Bowl. The OU-OSU loser is expected to be invited to play in the Fiesta Bowl. The winner will share the conference championship with Nebraska, which closed its season with an overall record of 9-2 and Big Eight record of 6-1. The loss ended a 27-game conference-winning streak for the Cornhuskers. Their last Big Eight defeat was to OU on this field in 1980.
Nebraska, No. 1 nationally in defense, outgained the Sooners (No. 2 in defense) 373 yards to 201. But OU had three chances to score and cashed each. The Cornhuskers were 1-for-6 on scoring opportunities.
Despite their inability to kick field goals and turnovers, they were within inches of winning with less than six minutes left when they drove 88 yards and had third down at the OU one.
Bosworth, the marvelous freshman, stopped fullback Scott Porter on third-down at the two-inch line. “I thought at first he was in,” Bosworth said. “The ball could not have been much more than an inch from the goal line.”
Surprisingly, Nebraska attempted a sweep by Smith on fourth down, rather than running inside. He headed for OU’s right flank and Hall, not considered especially strong, made the play of his five-year career. He stopped Smith for no gain.
Hall said, “I just tried to keep him from running over me. I didn’t think it was that great a play. I think somebody helped me.” Bosworth insisted, “Brian made the play by himself. It was a super play.”
Bosworth and nose guard Tony Casillas said the Sooners’ goal-line stand against Texas last month buoyed their confidence when Nebraska reached the one.
Osborne (who calls Nebraska’s plays) said, “I don’t think I did a very good job of setting us up to get in the end zone. But Oklahoma has a great defensive team. I congratulate them for playing a great game.”
A tie would have assured Nebraska an undisputed conference championship. But Osborne said he did not consider going for the tie at the goal line – just as he did not in the Orange Bowl last year when the Cornhuskers missed a two-point conversion pass and lost the national championship to Miami.
Switzer said, “Nebraska has a great defensive team. It was hard to move the ball on them.”
So hard that at times it did not appear the Sooners could make a first down, much less a touchdown.
Quarterback Travis Turner’s fumble of a snap from center, recovered by Paul Migliazzo, allowed OU to score on a 26-yard drive in the first quarter. Bradley sneaked from the one for the touchdown.
On 10 of their next 12 possessions the Sooners failed to make a first down. But Nebraska scored only once.
The Cornhuskers drove 84 yards in 10 plays for their only touchdown in the second quarter. Quarterback Craig Sundberg, the early season starter, directed the drive after replacing Turner and passed 38 yards to split end Robb Schnitzler for the key play.
Tailback Doug DuBose, the primitive game’s only effective runner, made two impressive gains to launch the drive and Smith ended it by scoring from the one.
But cornerback Jim Rockford’s interception off Turner stopped one threat at the 30 and place-kicker Dale Klein missed field goals of 49 and 23 yards – the latter after Nebraska recovered a Bradley fumble at the OU 11 and could drive no deeper than the six. Scott Livingston missed a 43-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
It was that kind of day for the Cornhuskers. One missed kick hit the crossbar and the Cornhuskers almost intercepted a pass prior to Lashar’s field goal. And, Bosworth or Migliazzo or Casillas always seemed to be making a play that stalled the Cornhuskers.
This defensive effort seemed likely to be wasted because of OU’s offensive ineffectiveness.
Migliazzo’s recovery of a fumbled snap by Turner at the Cornhuskers’ 26 set up an OU touchdown on its second possession.
The Sooners scored in seven plays, with fullback Lydell Carr getting 19 in three carries. Bradley sneaked from the one for the touchdown. Lashar’s conversion gave OU a 7-0 lead with 9:03 left in the first quarter.
But except for a 28-yard run by halfback Spencer Tillman on a deftly executed pitchout from Bradley, the Sooners did nothing until late in the third quarter.
The Cornhuskers, stopped by Rockford’s interception off Turner, changed quarterbacks, got revenge on Rockford and tied the game in the second quarter. Sundberg directed an 84-yard drive in 10 plays.
After DuBose made a fine run of nine yards and then faked Hall off his feet on a 15-yard run, Sundberg passed 38 yards to Schnitzler at the two-yard line behind Rockford.
Two plays later Smith dove one yard for the touchdown and Klein kicked the tying point with 5:34 left in the second quarter.
After spending the third quarter at their goal line and watching Nebraska miss field goals, OU broke out of its shackles on two plays by Bradley – a 31-yard pass to Rhymes and a 26-yard run on the option, with the help of a downfield block by Jeff Pickett.
This carried OU to the 12. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Sooners tried a trick play, with halfback Patrick Collins faking a run and then passing. Cornerback Neil Harris almost intercepted at the one-yard line. That was third down. Lashar kicked the go-ahead field goal of 32 yards on the next play for a 10-7 lead with 14:49 remaining.
Two possessions later Nebraska thundered from its 11 to the 50. From there, Sundberg passed to DuBose for a 42-yard gain with 5:32 left, giving the Cornhuskers a first down at the eight, and setting the stage for OU’s goal-line stand.
The Cornhuskers were sure to get field position when OU was unable to make a first down and Winchester had to punt from the end zone. He unloaded a 57-yarder and Smith fumbled the punt when Richard Dillon hit the ball while making the tackle. Jeff Hake recovered at Nebraska’s 43.
Then Bradley added the icing to the most delicious cake the Sooners have devoured since the 70’s.
How They Scored
Okla – Bradley 1-yard run (Lashar kick)
Neb – J. Smith 1-yard run (Klein kick)
Okla – Lashar FG, 32-yards
Okla – Bradley 29-yard run (Lashar kick)
First Downs: 9
Rushes, Yards: 51 – 143
Passing Yards: 58
Return Yards: 6
Passes: 5 – 10 – 2
Punts: 9 – 40
Fumbles, Lost: 1 – 1
Penalties, Yards: 4 – 31
First Downs: 19
Rushes, Yards: 53 – 137
Passing Yards: 236
Return Yards: 49
Passes: 14 – 24 – 1
Punts: 5 – 47
Fumbles, Lost: 4 – 3
Penalties, Yards: 2 – 29
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From The Tulsa World, November 18, 1984…
OU Victory Simply Matter of Principle
By Clay Henry
LINCOLN, Neb. – There’s an old rule in college football: The safety can’t take away the post and the option.
Take note of that Bret Clark. Nebraska’s free safety tried and failed.
And, there’s another rule very close to the front of the primer book for college football: Don’t expect to run wide on fourth-and-one at the goal line against the current OU defense.
Top-ranked Nebraska learned of that elementary logic just as Texas did when it too wore the No. 1 sash last month.
Oklahoma’s 17-7 victory Saturday at Memorial Stadium could be just as simple as those two principles. Or, as simple as the simplest cliché:
“It was our turn,” OU coach Barry Switzer said.
However, no one knew if Clark could defy logic or not for the longest time. Oklahoma never had good enough field position to risk throwing the bomb.
But when Scott Livingston missed a field goal with 2:36 left in the third quarter, OU finally had some breathing room – all the way out to its own 28.
The time had finally arrived. Sure enough, Clark couldn’t do both. Quarterback Danny Bradley found split end Buster Rhymes wide open down the middle for a 31-yard gain, the momentum breaker on the way to Tim Lashar’s tie-breaking field goal.
“We were just never in position to do it before then,” said Mack Brown, OU’s offensive coordinator. “But we always knew it would be there. The safety can’t be up there in Danny’s face on the option and cover the post, too.”
Rhymes, Nebraska’s nemesis from the day of his arrival at OU, knew the pass was there.
“We’d run the play only once, right before the half, and even against their prevent it was open,” Rhymes said. “It was there, but I lost it in the lights.”
But nothing went wrong this time. It was time for OU’s luck to fall right for the first time all season.
“It was our turn,” Rhymes said. “Too many things had gone wrong for us all year. Like Texas. Like Kansas.
And Rhymes felt it coming.
“I’m a ghost for Nebraska,” Rhymes said. “I thought about that this week. I always have terrific games against them.”
“I’m just the psychic mystery phenomenon for them and it was in my mind as we lined up for that play.”
Lady Luck smiled on the Sooners, Bradley agreed, but it was more than just their turn.
“The last couple of years Nebraska had the best team,” Bradley said. “They had won three straight, but it wasn’t a jinx or luck.”
“This time I knew we were even. I had confidence we could win. We were so close even when they were so good.”
Good does not begin to describe the way OU’s defense played.
Switzer, emotionally charged, called it a “lights out” performance by the defense.
“You saw something you don’t see maybe once in a lifetime,” he said of the goal-line stand that repelled Nebraska twice from the OU one with the Sooners leading by three with 5:32 left.
“But we did it twice. They put that thing down there twice and they said stop us. We stopped the No. 1 team in the nation twice.”
Then Switzer grinned.
“If they’d have thrown it on fourth down, it would have been an easy touchdown. We were lucky, but we decided to send everyone.”
Cornerback Brian Hall, who stopped Jeff Smith on fourth down, was in “an all-out blitz. I was playing run all the way. What would have happened if they had thrown? Oh, gosh.”
Hall almost apologized for his play. He thought Smith stumbled before “I hit him. The wingback was in motion and after I played off his block, there was Smith. It wasn’t much.”
The tougher play might have been the third down stop linebacker Brian Bosworth made on fullback Scott Porter.
“I thought he scored,” Bosworth said. “But I looked down and we were short of the goal line.”
“I knew I had to hit him high, try to stand him up or he would have gotten in. I was in the gap, then I had to give ground to the guard. That’s why I thought he might get in.”
Despite woeful field position in the third quarter (“Our offense couldn’t help,” Switzer said.), OU’s defenders never buckled.
“We knew we’d have to play on every down like it was a goal-line stand,” said nose guard Tony Casillas, confident he had won the battle with superb NU center Mark Traynowicz.
“We had to play like that because we knew they had a defense like ours. We knew our offense would have a tough time. We emphasized all week that we had to make our breaks.”
Linebacker Paul Migliazzo made his sure. He stripped away two fumbles on option plays.
“Heck, was the defense out there a lot?” said Migliazzo in mock amazement. “I was happy. I like to play. The more we get to play, the happier I am.”
“I am happy we had cool weather. And I think the altitude last week in Colorado toughened us up for this game. I was much more tired last week than in this game.”
Bosworth never worried about the field position miseries.
“We know, after the Texas game, that we can give it to ‘em anywhere and stop them,” Bosworth said. “It’s a magical feeling. We had it in the huddle on that last stand.”
It was quickly and frownfully whisked away, but there was a champagne cork popped in the OU celebration. Everyone was reminded the work was not finished.
“Everybody knows we have another one to go,” Casillas said. “Oklahoma State is very good. But we’ll be ready.”
Bradley said, “We finally beat Nebraska, but that just gives us a chance to win the Big Eight. We still have that left to do. We have to beat OSU.”
Switzer said, “We have business left at home. Our team will get after them.”
Oh yes, another constant of college football; OU always has something left for OSU.
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From The Tulsa World, November 18, 1984…
Frustrating Loss Leaves Cornhuskers in Daze
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Disappointed, frustrated and bewildered. Nebraska’s No. 1-ranked Cornhuskers said another one slipped away Saturday in the 17-7 Big Eight Conference loss to Oklahoma.
“It was another opportunity wasted,” said defensive end Bill Weber. “We had it all in front of us and we let it get away.”
Weber also lost an opportunity to become the only Big Eight Conference player to letter four years and play in four undefeated conference seasons. The loss snapped Nebraska’s 27-game Big Eight winning streak, which dated back to a 21-17 loss to Oklahoma on Nov. 22, 1980.
Nebraska battled Oklahoma to a 7-7 draw through three quarters before a 32-yard field goal by Tim Lashar gave the sixth-ranked Sooners the winning difference and knocked Nebraska out of a chance at a fourth-straight Orange Bowl trip.
“Obviously, we made more mistakes than they did,” said Nebraska coach Tom Osborne. “We just weren’t good enough to overcome the mistakes.”
Nebraska missed field goal tries of 48, 23 and 46 yards, and failed to score on a fourth down and an inch with 5:32 left in the game.
A field goal at that point would have tied the game, 10-10. If the game had ended in a tie, Nebraska would have wrapped up the Big Eight title and the Orange Bowl bid.
“If it had been a couple of yards, we probably would have kicked a field goal,” Osborne said. “There was enough time left, and with a foot to go (it was less than that) we thought we could score.”
But OU’s Brian Hall pulled down Husker I-back Jeff Smith to save the day for the Sooners.
“We thought about that play a lot,” said Osborne. “We thought they would stack the middle on us and would open the pitch. I don’t know where we broke down.”
Quarterback Craig Sundberg, who came off the bench to direct Nebraska’s 84-yard scoring drive in the second quarter and marched the team from its own 11 to the decisive play, said it was a good play to call.
“I felt like we’d run it many times in the game. We ran it well. We just didn’t get the job done that time,” he said.
Osborne credited his defense with keeping the Huskers in good field position much of the game.
“The defense played very well and gave us scoring opportunities,” he said. “Both defenses played very well. You have to give Oklahoma a lot of credit. Our congratulations to Oklahoma.”
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From The Tulsa Tribune, November 19, 1984…
He Made It All The Way Back
By Mike Sowell
Jeff Hake wasn’t supposed to be there among all the hugging, backslapping and celebrating in the University of Oklahoma football locker room Saturday.
The doctors had told Hake to take it easy this season, to sit around and let his scars heal.
It sounded like good medical advice. After what happened to Hake late one night last July, he shouldn’t have been in any shape to play football.
Hake was leaving a club in Kansas City when someone jumped him from behind. The assailant left Hake lying on the sidewalk, bleeding from a one-inch deep, five-inch long cut on his side.
So, this was supposed to be a period of recuperation for the sophomore defensive end.
Instead, Hake was there among all the clamor in the locker room after the Sooners had vanquished No. 1-ranked Nebraska 17-7 Saturday.
He had special cause to celebrate. He had thrown his scarred body into the battle and had made one of the biggest plays of the game for the Sooners.
It took a dramatic goal-line stand by Oklahoma to protect a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter, but there still was time for the Huskers to stage a final march as the Sooners lined up to punt from their 6-yard line.
Punter Mike Winchester got off a 57-yard kick, which was fielded by Nebraska return man Jeff Smith. Just as Smith was working up a full head of steam on the return, the ball was knocked from his grasp by OU’s Richard Dillon.
Hake, rushing up to support the play, alertly fell on the ball. It wedged between his legs and he hung on for dear life, knowing that with the football Oklahoma had victory firmly in its grasp.
“I felt everybody trying to get hold of me,” he said. “I heard Scott Newland yelling, “It’s ours! It’s ours!”
It had been a long, hard road for Hake to get to the bottom of that pileup, with his jubilant teammates pounding him on his back. In a lot of ways, his comeback symbolized all that his team has gone through.
The Sooners have been waylaid by misfortune most of the season. There was the controversial call that robbed them of victory against Texas, there was the loss to Kansas when quarterback Danny Bradley was sidelined, there was the car wreck that seriously injured two defensive starters, and there was the early season loss of All-America defensive end Kevin Murphy.
For Hake, the troubled times started July 27. He attended a friend’s wedding Kansas City. After the reception, Hake and another friend went to a club.
When it came time to leave, Hake’s friend lagged behind as Hake walked out the door and onto the sidewalk. Without warning, he was jumped from behind.
I just covered up and hit the ground,” Hake said. “It knocked the wind out of me. Then I felt my side, and I was bleeding.”
“I never saw the guy who did it.”
Hake wasn’t carrying a billfold, so the assailant left empty-handed. Hake was on the ground bleeding when his friend discovered him.
When they took Hake to the hospital, doctors feared he had suffered a punctured spleen. They were forced to perform exploratory surgery to find out.
Luckily for Hake, there was no spleen damage, but he did have a punctured diaphragm and lung. He also had the scars left by the surgery.
The doctors told him it would be two months before he would be able to even begin exercising. They advised him to forget playing football this season.
Hake didn’t listen. He was out of the hospital in a week and working out within a month. As he went through his rehabilitation, the Sooners made their early season run up to No. 2 in the national polls.
By the time Hake finally made it back, the Sooners were trying to regroup from the events of the Kansas weekend. Hake’s first action was in the 49-7 victory over Missouri which signaled OU’s turnaround.
“I told everyone I would be back,” he said.
The Sooners said the same thing, but it was only after the victory over Nebraska that people believed them.
And it was only fitting that Hake would be the one to fall on the ball late in the game against the Cornhuskers.
Like the rest of the Sooners, he didn’t know when he was supposed to be beaten.
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|Mana: || Posted: Thu Mar 19th, 2020 12:56 pm||
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|Mana: || Posted: Fri Mar 20th, 2020 02:49 am||
|Just rewatched that game. It wasn’t Bosworth that made the third down stop as the articles state. It was Dante Jones who had just come in for an injured Paul Migliazzo. As a matter of fact Bosworth got pancaked to his back on that play. Not sure why the reporter got it wrong and Bosworth took credit for it. Well, Boz being Boz I can understand why he took credit for it.
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