Worst Iowa loss in 30 years: Awesome Huskers bury Hawks, 57-0

Published: April 15 2008 | 7:35 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 5:20 pm in
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(Published 9/21/1980)

LINCOLN, NEB. -

Unpack.

That was the one-word message Saturday for Iowa football fans who had been talking about a Hawkeye postseason bowl game.

Yes, Nebraska's unbelievably perfect Big Red machine threw a 57-0 monkey wrench at the Hawkeyes Saturday, and it may have dealt a severe setback to Coach Hayden Fry's rebuilding program.

Nebraska's 107th consecutive sellout crowd of 76,029 could scarcely believe one college team could be that superior to another.

Iowa has had only five worse defeats in 92 seasons of football.

This was the biggest avalanche since an 83-21 embarrassment by Ohio State in 1950. The Hawkeye team of 1974 fave up more points in a 60-21 loss to Michigan State in the 1974 closer, but the margin wasn't as great.

Fry was asked if such a drubbing might shatter Iowa's morale with the Iowa State game coming up next Saturday at Iowa City.

"It will take a lot of leadership on the part of the players and coaches," he replied gravely, "because we'll just have to regroup.

"We really got blown out of the tub today, and that has often happened during my second year at a school. This can happen to a rebuilding program. It's happened to me before."

Nebraska, rated sixth nationally — among college teams; not the NFL — used 85 players on an afternoon of blustery, changeable winds and 90-degree heat.

Beating teams by whopping margins is not new for Big Red. Let's see: 57-0 over New Mexico State last year... 63-21 over Kansas, 69-17 over Indiana and 56-10 over Hawaii in 1978... 68-3 over Hawaii in 1976.

But this was an Iowa team that had gained fresh respect with a 16-7 upset at Indiana a week earlier. It was a team that had carried a 21-7 lead over Nebraska with 17 minutes to go in the last year's game before being nosed out 24-21.

"Well, maybe this will bring a lot of our fans down to earth," reasoned Fry.

"We lost to a tremendous football team. Coach Tom Osborne and his team can be proud. In 30 years of coaching I don't think I have seen a team play a better game. Nebraska could have played with anyone in the nation today and done a good job."

The Huskers certainly did everything right. On the third play after taking the opening kickoff, "Marvelous Jarvis" Redwine shot through an incredibly large hole up the middle, shook off a jersey-tearing tackle by Tracy Crocker and sprinted 69 yards to score.

From then on the Cornhuskers shucked Iowa like corn. Or, as Fry put it, "They picked us like chickens."

Nebraska outgained Iowa in net rushing yardage 456 to 44. Iowa averaged less than 1.5 yards a run, Nebraska 5.8.

It was billed as a personal duel between the nation's top two rushers. Redwine, 203-pound senior from Inglewood, Calif., gained 179 yards last week in a 55-9 romp over Utah, and this time he picked up 153 yards in only 12 trips.

Iowa's 155-pound soph, Jeff Brown, came in with 176 yards in his opener. But he was no more a match for Redwine than his mates were for the Huskers in general. He was restricted to 51 yards in 15 tries by the ubiquitous Nebraska defense.

It was bad enough that Iowa got run over by one of the nation's superb steamrollers, but the Hawks added some self-inflicted wounds that made the rout a massacre.

Iowa could have limped out of Memorial Stadium with a 49-0 licking. That was the score with 2:22 to go when the Hawks finally staunched Nebraska's reserves a yard short of the goal.

One the next play, however, sub quarterback Pete Gales rolled out and was promptly rolled for a safety by Jack Lonowski.

That still wasn't the coup de grace. It was delivered by Nebraska's fourth-string quarterback, Bruce Mathison, on an 11-yard scamper for the final TD with 27 seconds left.

Aha! The first hint of a Nebraska weakness surfaced. Eddie Neal, one of three Huskers who kicked extra points and kickoffs Saturday, didn't allow enough for the gale that blew dust clouds from the northwest and his extra-point kick was wide to the left.

Iowa made shallow penetrations into Nebraska territory a couple of times later, but the only scoring threat by the visitors came after Redwine had scored with 13:43 to go in the first quarter. Iowa actually forced Nebraska to punt — the first of two all afternoon.

Phil Suess didn't connect on his first two passes, but then he hit Keith Chappelle for 11 and Mike Hufford made a leaping grab for 18 more. Iowa had a first down on the Husker 26.

Brown slashed through right guard, but he had the ball stripped from him and Nebraska's Jim Williams recovered it on the 11. That was the high-water mark for Iowa.

Split end Todd Brown caught two touchdown passes, and Davenport's Roger Craig scored two on lightning runs. In addition to Redwine, Husker TDs were scored by wingback Tim McCrady, second-string QB Mark Mauer and fourth-string QB Mathison, as follows:

First quarter — 1. Redwine set the tone with his 69-yard dash with 13:43 to go. 2. Quinn passed 15 yards to Brown in the right corner of the end zone with five seconds left. Neil, a left-footed soccer-style kicker who uses no more than one step of approach (even on kickoffs), made both extra points, 14-0.

Second quarter — 3. McCrady took a six-yard pass from Quinn with 12:47 to go. 4. Craig got the ball for the first time and plunged five yards to score, 8:35 left. 5. Quinn hit Brown, this time on a 13-yard TD pass, 2:45 left. Kevin Seibel, three of whose kickoffs sailed perfectly through the uprights and into the stands, booted all three extra points.

Third quarter — 6. Craig high-dived two yards for his second TD. Again Seibel kicked.

Fourth quarter — 7. Mauer scored on his five-yarder and barefoot Lynn Schoening booted the point. 8. After Gales was tackled for the two-pointer, Mathison danced 11 for the final TD, followed by Neils' unsuccessful kick.

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