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Huskers Victimized by Best Effort of Bryant's ‘Greatest Team'

BY WALLY PROVOST
SPORTS EDITOR FOR THE WORLD-HERALD

Related Photos

1967 Sugar Bowl

NU's Bob Churchich, No. 15, and Pete Tatman lead the blocking as Ben Gregory, No. 22, picks up a quick five yards.New Orleans, La. - With time for contemplation and with the bolstering of a good meal, many Nebraska football fans Monday night were able to convince themselves it was less than the end of the world to be thumped by a very good football team playing its best game.

And even roistering Alabama rooters would pause to concede that the 34-7 Sugar Bowl triumph was their club's finest performance of the season.

Coach Bear Bryant called his triumphant hit-and-run artists, winners of 11 straight games, “the greatest college football team I've ever been associated with.”

1966 in Review
• Nebraska 14, Texas Christian 0

• Nebraska 28, Utah State 7

• Nebraska 12, Iowa State 6

• Nebraska 31, Wisconsin 3

• Nebraska 21, Kansas State 10

• Nebraska 21, Colorado 19

• Nebraska 35, Missouri 0

• Nebraska 24, Kansas 13

• Nebraska 21, Oklahoma State 6

• Oklahoma 10, Nebraska 9

• 1967 Sugar Bowl: Alabama 34, Nebraska 7

Meanwhile, musicians in night spots were featuring “Alabama Jubilee” in their repertoire of jazz.

The Times-Picayune this morning referred to “racehorse-swift” Alabama and observed that “Nebraska found there is no substitute for speed.”

Sports Editor Bob Roesler declared in a tribute to the Southeastern Conference representative:

“With all due respect for Notre Dame's let's-go-for-a-tie Irish and Michigan State, this corner's ballot goes to Alabama, the best team in the last outpost of great collegiate football.”

An Indianapolis writer used this unfortunately accurate analogy: “Lightning fast, Alabama cut through a slow, heavier Nebraska football team like a sharp knife through tender beef.”

Chief carver was tall, calculating Ken Stabler, southpaw quarterback who ran for one touchdown, passed for another and personally amassed 256 yards while earning acclaim as the outstanding player in the dampish bowl encounter.

Stabler had plenty of assistance.

Dick Davis, who scored the solitary Husker touchdown, thought Alabama didn't seem to be hitting as hard as Missouri, “but there were more of them hitting you.”

It was the worst defeat suffered by Nebraska since Oklahoma belabored Bob Devaney's first N.U. team, 34-6, in 1962. It was also the largest score run up by any Sugar Bowl winner in nine years.

Alabama won the toss, accepted the kick-off and opened with a 45-yard pass from Stabler to End Ray Perkins.

In less than 7½ minutes, the Tide had rolled for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Nebraska, which had come to town eager to atone for last year's pasting by Alabama in the Orange Bowl, already was beaten.

Smarting from the scorn of national pollsters, these ‘Bamians ran up the biggest half-time margin in Sugar Bowl history, 24-0. They proceeded to amass 436 yards in total offense; they strangles Nebraska's attack by making a record five interceptions and capturing two fumbles.

When the Huskers did eventually end Alabama's shutout string at 19 quarters, the Southeasterners grabbed the next kick-off and rushed 70 yards in six plays to remind their rivals who was boss.

That drive ended the scoring on the same saucy note as the opening play, with Stabler coolly shooting the ball to Perkins for 45 yards.

The twosome deserved the encore.

Stabler showed uncanny accuracy in completing 12 of 18 passes for 218 yards.

The 6-foot-2 junior from Foley, Ala., also led the winners in rushing, as he had during the regular season, with 38 ground yards.

Perkins, a senior whose success in pro football has been widely predicted, caught seven flips and stretched them into 178 yards with speed and clever footwork.

The temperature was in the mid-50's. The humidity at kick-off was 93 per cent. Rain, which might have proved of some benefit to the lass-fancy Cornhuskers, refused to come down.

It was Alabama's day from the moment Bryant cast a commanding glance toward the heavens until jazz trumpeter Al Hirt vigorously directed the Alabama band in a fourth-quarter serenade of the obvious conquerors.

In between, there was occasion for Rebel yells and waving of Confederate flags when the Governors Wallace of Alabama were introduced to the crowd of 82 thousand.

Among the players who were taking bows were Safety Bobby Johns, who broke a Sugar Bowl record by stealing three passes; rough-riding Tackle Lou Thompson and Linebacker Bob Childs. Mike Hall and Wayne Own, who pace the highly mobile defense' All-America Tackle Cecil Dowdy, who usually led the irrepressible blocking charge.

In the consolation department, Quarterback Bob Churchich set a Nebraska passing record with 21 completions, which were worth 201 yards.

Churchich passed to sophomore Halfback Davis for a 15-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth period. Davis, who hadn't handled the ball until Nebraska was trailing by 17 points, made the catch on the nine and smacked into a couple of defenders to force his way over the goal line at the flag.

It was Davis who scored Nebraska's only touchdown in the loss to Oklahoma.

The sturdy fullback carried 10 times against Alabama, netter a team-high 37 yards rushing. Halfback Ben Gregory boasted the best average, however, getting 26 yards on four attempts.

Nebraska's leading receivers, with six catches each, were Tom Penney and Dennis Richnafsky.

Busiest of the N.U. defenders were Linebacker Barry Alvarez, who started in place of Lynn Senkbeil and made eight tackles and three assists; Cornerback Kaye Carstens, Middle Guard Wayne Meylan and Cornerback Marv Mueller.

Special not also must be made of the day's cleverest band stunt.

The ever-ready Alabama musicians formed the half-time score during their six-minute stint at intermission, and did it with neat precision suggesting it was all part of the script.

Stabler's game-starting bolt to Perkins put the ball on Nebraska's 27. It must have put the Husker hearts in the mouths. The was the dreaded “big play” performed by the dreaded twosome they had been watching in movies for weeks.

Les Kelley carried four times, the final effort taking him over the middle for a touchdown with only 3:56 elapsed. He suffered a shoulder injury and did not carry again.

However, the Bush pushed a button marked “talent” and out came substitute Ed Morgan, a 5-10, 177-pound sophomore who ran like he thought he was Bronko Nagurski. Morgan exactly matched Husker Davis's 10 carries and 37 yards.

Alabama kicked off, quickly forced a Nebraska punt, then sizzled 71 yards in for plays for touchdown No. 2. The series started - how else? - with a 10-yard Stabler-Perkins pass. On next down, the same pair clicked for 42 yards. The series ended with Stabler floating 14 yards around the ‘Bama left end.

When threatened by a tackler, Stabler faked a pitchback to fullback David Chatwood, then glided in for the score.

The score reached to 14-0 with 7:28 left in the quarter when Steve Davis kicked the second of his four conversions. the artful junior also contributed field goals of 30 and 40 yards to spice the show.

the first time Nebraska stopped Alabama, Meylan tackled Halfback Frank Canterbury after a two-yard gain to leave Alabama with a fourth-and-one decision. Alabama punted.

On first down, Harry Wilson's fumble was recovered by 6-foot-4 End Charlie Harris on the Nebraska 38.

After moving to the 13, Stabler was the victim of a shocking development. he missed on a pass for the first time in seven tosses.

So Davis kick a field goal. It was 17-0, and Nebraska hadn't budged beyond its own 47.

On the first possession of the second quarter, Alabama swept 71 yards in 10 call. This time, alternate Quarterback Wayne Trimble ambled around the Tide left end from the six, crashed into Larry Wachholtz at the goal line and scored.

Stabler returned to duty a few minutes later and again was the victim of a shocking development. Husker sub End Ivan Zimmer dumped Stabler for a nine-yard loss on the N.U. 40 on third down. It was the first time a Husker has touched the well named “Snake.”

Nebraska got past midfield shortly before half when Churchich passed to Harry Wilson for 26 yards to the Tide 38. However, Nebraska lost the ball on downs at the 28.

When the half ended, Alabama had a tell-tale yardage advantage of 277-113.

Everything had happened to Nebraska except an interception. That occurred on the fourth play of the second half as Johns sidetracked a Churchich delivery intended for Gregory.

Alabama couldn't cash in on the alert play, so Johns did it again a few minutes later. He was on his knees at the ‘Bama 17 when an errant shot to Penney came his way.

Stabler used a 27-yard pass to Perkins as the big play while taking his charges down to the N.U. 23 after that bit of ball-hawking. Davis backed up seven yards to kick his second field goal.

Thus the count was 27-0 going into the final quarter.

However, Nebraska was making a belated move. Passed by Churchich to Penny, Richnafsky, Charlie Winters and Miles Kimmel had helped Nebraska advance to the Alabama 15 as the third period ended.

Then on second down with six to make, Churchich hit Davis, who was pedaling down the right side. The throw, the catch and the run were of picture-book variety on this ninth play of a 70-yard effort.

For what it was worth, Nebraska had at least scored on the vaunted Tide, a privilege denied regular-season rivals Louisiana Tech, Clemson, LSU, South Carolina, Southern Mississippi and Auburn.

But Alabama quickly nullified the points involved by sending Stabler and Perkins to center stage for the aerial legerdemain.

Coach Bob Devaney later poured in substitutes, although it perhaps will not be a sporting event which many will insist on preserving in scrapbook form.


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