The Nebraska Cornhuskers have earned a reputation for being a high-powered offensive machine. During Tom Osborne's 25 year tenure at the helm of the Huskers, his teams recorded scores in the sixties on 17 different occassions, reached the 70 point mark eight times and even saw one game with over 80 points on their side of the scoreboard. Osborne's 1983 team became known as the "scoring explosion" behind quarterback Turner Gill, wingback Irving Fryar and Heisman Trophy running back Mike Rozier. That year's team averaged over 60 points a game. That equals more than a point a minute.
But with all their offensive fireworks, nothing comes close to the performance put on by a Husker team on Thanksgiving Day way back in 1910. On that date the Huskers would roll up their most lopsided win and come up just shy of two points a minute when they humiliated the squad from Haskell University by a score of 119-0.
The Haskell team traveled up from their home in Lawrence, Kansas knowing they were poised for trouble. The Huskers were still bitter over last season's game when the Indians used trick plays, and a few ringer players, to pull off a 15-6 upset. The 1910 Huskers had already recorded six wins in their seven previous games. The only Husker loss came to a powerful Minnesota team, and only one other opponent had scored any points against the Huskers' defense. Even the Haskell student newspaper conceded before the game that "it would be almost a miracle for Haskell to win from (Nebraska)."
Coach "King" Cole had his team ready with twelve days of rest since their last battle. Before the fans had a chance to settle into their seats Nebraska had scored on a safety. Before the afternoon was over Nebraska would score twenty touchdowns, amass an incredible 1,150 yards of total offense, 265 yards of passing on eleven completions. The numbers would be even worse except Nebraska was called for 75 yards of penalties and had one touchdown called back because of a foul. Nebraska had a total of 267 yards of kick returns.
Nebraska's defense was equaling dominating. The Indians gained only 67 yards on offense on a mere 17 plays from scrimmage. The Nebraska blockade allowed just three complete passes in twelve attempts and gave up just three first downs on the afternoon.
Individual accomplishments were many on the Nebraska sideline. Quarterback Leon Warner was able to pull out long passes throughout the game. Halfback Owen Frank would provide extra duty by kicking seventeen extra point attempts. Right half Harry Minor executed the game's longest run of 65-yards . Fullback Harvey Rathbone was credited with seven touchdowns in the game, a Husker record that still stands today. Even the Nebraska center, Sydney Collins, scored a touchdown in the game.
Coach Caldwell of Haskell was hanging his head following the match.
"I had not hoped for a victory over Nebraska, for our team was light and made up largely of players new to the game, but I had not anticipated such a showing by our opponents," Caldwell said. "Nebraska has its best team in years, to my notion. It is far and away the best team in the Missouri Valley."
The Husker superiority was evident from the start. After Nebraska stalled on their first drive they punted to Haskell's Iron Cloud who was tackled in the end zone by Minor for the first two points of the game. Haskell punted to Nebraska, who powered for runs of 20, 15 and a final 15 yards by Owen Frank for the first touchdown. Touchdowns at that time were worth five points so Nebraska held a fast 7-0 margin with only three minutes ticking off the game clock.
Haskell fumbled their first play from scrimmage and Nebraska recovered at the Indian 15-yard line. Two plays later tackle Leroy Temple took the ball in around end. The point after was missed keeping the score 12-0.
After the teams traded punts, Nebraska finally broke out the forward pass plays, including a 20-yard toss from Frank to Walter Chauner. Rathbone scored his first tally to cap the drive and make the score 18-0 early in the game.
Nebraska wasn't done yet. On their second play of their ensuing drive, Frank connected with Warner for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Their next drive took a bit longer, despite a 25-yard end run by Frank and a 30-yard scamper by Minor. Rathbone scored again with a 5-yard run to put NU up 30-0. Nebraska held Haskell again and produced another two play scoring drive when tackle Sylvester Shonka took the ball in from 10-yards out. At the end of the first period Nebraska was already up 36-0.
The second quarter was much of the same. Rathbone scored on a 1-yard run in the opening drive. That was followed by a 30-yard touchdown run by Warner on the next series. After getting the ball back Nebraska even bothered to reach into their bag of tricks. Going into punt formation, the Huskers faked the kick, allowing Rathbone to ramble 33-yards for a first down. Shonka followed that with a 20-yard run on a fake quarterback run down to the Indian 9. Two plays later Rathbone tried for another score, but he fumble the ball into the Haskell end zone. Husker center Collins fell on the ball for the touchdown, proving Haskell was not going to get many breaks on the day. With time still remaining on the clock in the first half, Nebraska was enjoying a 53-0 lead.
Rathbone scored once more before the half ended from two yards out. At halftime the Huskers went to the locker rooms up 59-0.
Haskell showed they did little during the break to change the course of events. The Indians put up a battle, but knew the war had long since been lost. On the first Husker drive of the half, Warner ran 43-yards around end for a big gain, followed by 28 yard touchdown run by Frank.
Haskell seemed more prepared for the trick plays that Nebraska seemed to run at will in the first half. Plays that netted dozens of yards now only produced single-digit gains. They were enough to keep Nebraska rolling, though. A 6-yard touchdown run by Minor and a 12-yard scoring run by Temple pushed the score to 83-0.
Haskell fumbled the ensuing kickoff, allowing Nebraska to score again with a 20-yard run by Warner and a 21-yard scoring run by Frank. Before the period ended the Cornhuskers added a touchdown on Frank's long run and a 7-yard dive by Shonka. At the end of the third Nebraska had topped the century mark with a 101-0 lead.
Nebraska seemed uninterested in resting on the three digit lead, although they did make the courtesy of inserting a few substitutes. Ernest Frank came in at right half for Minor and pounded the ball into the center line with his fresh legs, play after play. Rathbone added touchdown number five on the first drive of the period. Nebraska saw a 30-yard scoring run by E. Frank called back due to a holding penalty, but the Cornhuskers were able to rebound and scored later on a 3-yard Rathbone run for his sixth score.
Later in the fourth, Haskell finally had something to cheer about, an actual scoring threat. Good Eagle intercepted a Nebraska pass and sprinted 45 yards downfield towards the NU goal line. The only player who could stop him was Minor, who did so at the Nebraska 25-yard line. Despite the good fortune, Haskell was unable to move any closer and gave up the ball on downs.
As the game was winding down, Nebraska added another score. Rathbone notched his seventh TD with a 2-yard dive to make the score 119-0. Nebraska had one more chance to rub it in in the game's final minute when they recovered a Haskell fumble at the Indian 10-yard line. Time ran out before any further damage could be done.
The game proved to be an impressive farewell to coach Cole who left Nebraska following the 1910 season. Nebraska's taste for the crushing defeats didn't end there, however. In the 1911 season opener against Kearney State the Cornhuskers nearly matched the feat with a 117-0 win. Those two games remain the largest Husker victories ever.
The Nebraska win over Haskell isn't the most lopsided victory in NCAA history. That honor (or shame) goes to the Georgia Tech - Cumberland game of 1916. In that game Tech crushed Cumberland 222-0. In that game Cumberland gained no first downs and neither did Georgia Tech, but for different reasons, obviously.