Rhymes with Uncanny

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Outside of maple leaves and football, the best thing about autumn is that you don't have to worry about hay fever any more. Especially if you live in Nebraska, where goldenrod is the state flower. There aren't many maples in Nebraska, and there wasn't much big-time football — give or take a season or so — until a paunchy, puffy-eyed Irish man named Bob Devaney took over as head coach at the University of Nebraska in 1962.

Only twice in their history had the Cornhuskers been ranked among the nation's top ten. They had not won a Big Eight championship in 21 years. They had been invited just twice (in 1941 and 1955) to post-season bowl games, and lost both times. Their most beloved player, Halfback Lloyd ("Wild Hoss of the Plains") Cardwell, never made anyone's All-America in the 1930s. The coaches were mostly men who went on to become famous at some other school, like Fielding ("Hurry-Up") Yost and Dana X. Bible.

But Devaney, as every Nebraskan knows, rhymes with uncanny. Bob walked out on a new five-year contract at Wyoming to take the Nebraska job, announced on his arrival in Lincoln: "I don't expect to win enough games to be put on N.C.A.A. probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation." Devaney proceeded to win 28 out of his first 33—and improve from there. Until last week the closest the Cornhuskers had come to losing this fall was a 16-14 victory over No. 8-ranked Missouri. They had walloped Texas Christian (34-14), Air Force (27-17), Colorado (38-13) and Kansas (42-6); against Iowa State, Wisconsin and Kansas State, they had run up a combined score of 122 to 0. But last week the No. 3-ranked Cornhuskers ran into a hornet's nest at Stillwater, Okla., and almost got stung. Trailing 17-14 in the last quarter, they marched 74 yds. in 15 plays to take the lead, 21-17, with only 38 sec. left. But Oklahoma State wasn't quite through yet. It took a desperate tackle on the 5-yd. line to make that score final and sew up the Big Eight championship for the unbeaten Cornhuskers, along with a trip to the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1—their fourth bowl trip in as many seasons.

One Day at the Organ. If N.C.A.A. gumshoes are dogging Devaney's footsteps, he is leading them a merry chase. He is the most peripatetic recruiter in Nebraska's history. No fewer than 68 of the 109 athletes who tried out for the team last spring were non-Nebras-kans. The Huskers do have Nebraskan Bob Churchich playing quarterback, but he has to alternate with Chicago's Fred Duda. Another Chicagoan, 240-lb. Tackle Walt Barnes, is the bulwark of a defense that so far has limited its opponents to 195 yds. per game. Cleveland's Frank Solich may be the smallest fullback (at 5 ft. 8 in. and 158 Ibs.) in major-college football, but he has gained an average of 5.5 yds. per carry. Split End Freeman White, a 6-ft. 5-in. 220-pounder and All-Big Eight in 1964, comes from Detroit.

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