January 2, 1964
Valiant Huskers Earn 13-7 Orange Bowl Win
Long Claridge Run, Two Theisen Goals Beat Sidle, Auburn
By Wally Provost
Orange Bowl, Miami, Fla.ÑValiant Nebraska smashed Southeastern Conference domination of the Big Eight in the Orange Bowl, whipping Auburn by 13 to 7 Wednes-day in the school's most publicized victory of all time.
An overflow crowd of 72,647 saw Nebraska leap ahead with Denny Claridge's record-breaking run of 68 yards on the second play of the game.
The Cornhuskers never trailed.
But their estimated eight thousand followers in the stands and a far greater multitude watching on television were forced to endure pulsating torment in the final minutes before Co-Captain John Kirby killed Auburn's final threat by batting down a Mimmy Sidle pass.
The All-America quarterback was as great, as his credentials, stacking up 237 yards in total offense.
Nearly 150 yards of that production came on passes, though, and the Sidle pass was a futile weapon of desperation this day against a Nebraska team that excelled in every other phase of the game.
Jordan Praises NU
"We didn't face a team all year with the speed and size of Nebraska," said Coach Ralph Jordan of the vanquished Alabamans.
"I don't think they really ever stopped us," said Coach Bob Devaney, who probably could cash in on his hundred-grand insurance policy today as far as most jubilant backers are concerned.
Nebraska's jet-like comeback under Professor Devaney now shows a record of 19-3, including triumphant appearances in the Gotham Bowl and the Orange Bowl.
However, there was no premature boasting during the darkest moments of the fourth-quarter dramatics Wednesday.
Theisen's Toe Produces
Having combined two field goals and a placement kick by Dave Theisen with Claridge's stunning run, Nebraska still was on top, 13 to 7, when forced to relinquish the ball with seven minutes 31 seconds to play.
For most of the second half, Auburn had profited from greater momentum. That was first evident when the Tigers surged 71 yards for the only third-quarter touchdown scored against N.U. in 11 games.
Could the Huskers stop Auburn now that pressure was heaviest?
Claridge got off a punt that soared high and well over 50 yards although 20 were shaved when it bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
Auburn Starts Drive
Auburn, which had to move the ball 80 yards, started quickly with a Sidle pass to Don Lewis for 12. Kirby, senior guard from David City, teamed with Center Lyle Sittler of Crete to limit Sidle's trip around end to three.
Sidle added seven yardsÑand another first downÑwith a toss to End Howard Simpson, one of the contest's great performers.
Under heave rushing pressure, Sidle missed his next target, and on the following play, Senior Tackle Monte Kiffin of Lexington batted down a pass.
It was third and 10 Ð a critical moment.
Two Big Plays
Sidle pitched to Halfback George Rose for 12, then wheeled to his right, juggled the ball, and zoomed upfield for 13 more and a first down on the N.U. 33.
He thrust three yards deeper with a flip to Lewis, who was hauled down by Wymore's Joe McNulty.
When Tony Jeter, the rookie end from West Virginia who was also one of the Orange Bowl's heroic figures, slammed Sidle for a five-yard setback, there was another crisis for both antagonists.
Three minutes 45 seconds remained. Auburn was on the Nebraska 35. It was third down, 12 to make.
Sidle delivered in All-America fashion, hurling to Rose, who was hauled down on the 17 by Bobby Hohn, the Beatrice speedster.
Tie a Possibility
If Auburn scored, it would be a tie game. But Auburn's Woody Woodall has a string of 24 successful conversion kicks, and No. 25 would drop the Huskers behind with time running out.
Sidle raced to his left. Kirby, followed immediately by Callahan and Walt Barnes, piled into him for a yard loss. On the next play, Callahan almost held on for an interception as he spoiled a Sidle pass to Rose.
Third and 12 with 2:21 to play.
Miraculously, Sidle was able to pass with larry Tomlinson, the husky senior wingman from O'Neill, hanging onto him. Husker partisans groaned as pass interference was called near the goal. They cheeredÑand the Huskers jumped for joyÑwhen a countering motion penalty against Auburn nullified the play.
Fateful Fourth Down
This time Sidle hit his target, Halfback Rose, whom Callahan stopped on the 11. That made it fourth down, and Auburn still was four yards short of a fresh series.
Both Simpson and Fullback Doc Griffith broke out as potential receivers. Sidle threw toward Griffith, but Kirby made his tremendous save.
With a minute and a half to kill, Claridge plunged twice, Fullback Rudy Johnson roared for seven and a precious first down. Claridge dropped to his knees, cuddling the ball as the game ended.
Blue Ribbon Job
In the final analysis, Auburn was mastered both on the ground and in the air. Nebraska's defense was blue ribbon in every respect, as the record books will show.
'Fully healed for the first time in several months, Claridge gave the Husker attack superb direction. Rookie Fred Doda, ready and able, was needed only for the precise job of placement on Theisen's three kicks.
Claridge ran for 108 yards; added 30 on four pass completions and averaged 38.3 on seven excellent punts.
His blockbuster was one-yard better than the Orange Bowl scrimmage-run record of 67, by Ned Peters of Mississippi against Catholic U in 1936.
Auburn used Southeastern Conference caution after winning the toss, then choosing a negligible cross wind of 13 m.p.h. while letting Nebraska have the option to receive.
The Huskers gladly exercised that option, Halfback, Kent McCloughan of Broken Bow rambling 18 yards to the N.U. 26 on the kick-off return.
Johnson charged over right guard to the 32.
Then Claridge angled through his right side, cut wide behind powerhouse blocking, hustled his 222 pounds past several defenders and broke up the sideline.
For about 20 yards, Halfback Billy Edge gave serious pursuit failing to gain against Claridge's surprising speed, Edge made a last-gasp lunge inside the 20.
His only reward was a face full of grass as Claridge proceeded to the end zone.
Jeter Spoils Effort
Auburn's first offensive opportunity was wrecked on third down when Jeter smeared Sidle for a three-yard loss.
Nebraska then used the running of Johnson, Willie Ross, Hohn and Claridge, plus a Claridge-Jeter pass for nine yards, to sweep from its 42 to the Auburn 10.
Bucky Waid tackled Hohn for a minus four on second down. Bill Cody wrecked a Claridge-Jeter pass on the following play.
Theisen, a Milwaukeean who moved to N.U. when Marquette dropped football several years ago, kicked a field goal from the 21 with nearly 5 - _ minutes remaining
in the first quarter.
Theisen's second goal and the fourth of his senior season came early in the second period after Rose dropped a punt and Jeter won the scramble on the Auburn 22.
This time Dave kicked from the 26. With the 10-yard added depth of the end zone counted under modern rules, both efforts surpassed the 25-year old Orange Bowl record by Tennessee's Bowden Wyatt.
The only other husker "scoring" proved a false alarm when officials ruled Frank Solich stepped out on the Nebraska 42 while returning a punt all the way from the N.U. 20.
That ruling is in dispute.
There were additional breathtaking momentsÑsuch as a Claridge pass that was barely out of Jeter's reach in the end zoneÑbut it was not a Nebraska game for "ifs."
The accomplished was more than sufficient.
Nebraska gave Auburn a frosty eye from start to finish.
Even in the fading moments of the first half, when conservatism might have been applauded, Nebraska attempted to fatten its 13-point advantage with three Claridge passes.
Auburn's touchdown was a job worthy of the nation's fifth-ranking team. Covering 71 yards, the drive featured excellent blocking, good running by Rose,
Rawson, Sidle and Mickey Sutton. There was only one pass.
Sidle scored from the 13 after taking a snap deep in shotgun formation. He barreled around his left end, was hit by Callahan at the goal line but bounced over.
Just as they had done in 10 regular-season games, giant linemen such as Bob Brown and Lloyd Voss set a thunderous blocking pace and kept the defensive middle well plugged.
Seventh Straight Win
The victory was Nebraska's seventh in a row. It erased the disappointment of
the 1941 Rose Bowl defeat and atoned for the humiliation of the 1954 Orange Bowl drubbing.
It hiked the Big Eight's Orange Bowl advantage to 6-4 and marked the first
Big Eight triumph in four meetings with Southeastern Conference members.