1973 Nebraska vs Notre Dame 


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story image 1 Dave Humm Jukes Through The Irish Defense

1973 Orange Bowl:
Devany Ends Career
Huskers Win Devaney's Last Game  40-6 Over ND



To the casual observer, the drama had already been lost in the 1973 Orange Bowl. After two years as National Champion the Nebraska Cornhuskers entered the New Years Day contest ranked ninth in the AP poll with no shot at a three-peat. Dazzling Husker wingback Johnny Rodgers had already displayed enough talent in the regular season to be named the Heisman Trophy winner prior to the game. But even without the impressive hardware still on the line, the Cornhusker players had something big to accomplish. Beloved head coach Bob Devaney had announced his retirement and the Huskers wanted to make sure they sent their coach off with an impressive victory.

On paper the matchup seemed like a good one. Two storied rivals meeting for the first time since 1947 with Notre Dame claiming victory in six of their last nine meetings. The Huskers arsenal not only included Rodgers, but Outland Trophy winner Rich Glover and talented young quarterback Dave Humm who broke the Big 8 sophomore passing record with 2,074 yards in 1972. Notre Dame entered the game with an 8-2 record including a loss to number one USC in the season finale. Head Coach Ara Parseghian brought a talented group of Irish athletes, including quarterback Tom Clements. Oddly enough, despite their long history, the 1973 was only the fourth bowl game Notre Dame had played in. With the exception of the 1925 Rose Bowl school officials prohibited the team from playing in any post-season matchups until 1969.

Nebraska's primary offensive weapon was a stellar passing game, leading the Big 8 in passing yardage with 219.2 yards per game. Notre Dame focused their pre-game preparations on trying to stop Johnny Rodgers and slowing down the Husker aerial attack. But Devaney has a trick up his sleeve. When the Huskers lined up for their opening drive, Rodgers wasn't playing wingback. Devaney had positioned the senior at I-Back, completely changing the Husker attack. Rodgers would now do his damage on the ground.

Nebraska's offense took little time to get into gear. On their opening possession of the game the Huskers easily marched over the 76 yards needed for the first score. Runs by Rodgers of 13 and 10 yards as well as runs of 6 and twelve yards by Dave Goeller showed the Irish that the Huskers were pulling out all stops. Even if it meant using an unfamiliar ground attack to do the job. Rodgers finally drew first blood with an 8-yard touchdown run. Rich Sanger's kick gave the Huskers a 7-0 first quarter lead.

The Irish had their chances to score early in the game. Early in the first, a Notre Dame drive moved quickly down to the Nebraska 29 yard line but the Husker defense pushed the Irish back from there. A 52 yard field goal attempt was no good and the Irish frustration began. In the first quarter alone Notre Dame enjoyed first downs at the Nebraska 30, 29 and 25-yard lines. However they were unable to score on any of the opportunities. Cornerback Joe Blahak intercepted one pass to kill an Irish drive.

In the second period the Huskers used the ground attack once again to catch the Irish flat-footed. Gary Dixon broke free on a run of 36 yards covered nearly half of the scoring drive yardage. Humm followed that with a 19 yard toss to Bob Revelle to set up the Huskers' next score. Dixon pounded in from one yard out for the TD with 14:21 left in the period.

Nebraska wasn't ready to stop there, however. On their next possession the Husker once again used the threat of their ground game to fool the Irish defense, but it was the pass that did the scoring. With the ball on the Husker 48 yard line Humm tossed a lateral to Rodgers who grabbed the toss and appeared ready to head up field. Irish defenders converged on the star, only to watch helplessly as Rodgers pulled up and tossed a deep pass to a streaking Frosty Anderson for the team's third touchdown.

Nebraska's defense continued to frustrate the Irish in the second quarter. Notre Dame moved down to the NU 24 only to lose the ball on downs. On their next possession, linebacker John Pitts intercepted a Clements pass at the Nebraska 41 yard line. At the half Nebraska had a 20-0 lead.

The Nebraska players weren't willing to settle for the lead. They wanted more in the second half. On their opening third quarter possession Nebraska marched 42 yards to score again., the points coming on a four yard run by Rodgers. After a Bob Thornton interception gave them the ball back, Nebraska scored again when Rogers capped an 80-yard drive with a 5 yard run. Midway through the third period Nebraska was up 33-0 and Rodgers had already turned in four touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Irish, neither the Huskers nor Rodgers were finished yet.

On their next possession the Huskers used the big play to crush Notre Dame again. With the ball at mid-field, Humm tossed a screen pass to Rodgers who dashed down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown. With that score Rodgers became the first Husker in history to run, pass and catch a touchdown in a single game and the Huskers now had a 40-0 lead.

Devaney finally began resting his starters. In the fourth period Notre Dame was finally able to put together a scoring drive to avoid the shutout. Clements connected with Pete Demmerle for a 5-yard touchdown.

Nebraska crushed Notre Dame in every statistic of the game. The Huskers rolled to 560 yards of total offense to Notre Dame's 207. Nebraska rushed for 300 yards and passed for another 260, while Notre Dame had just 104 yards in the air. Nebraska's 30 first downs dwarfed the Irish's 13 first downs.

On the individual front, Rodgers showed he deserved his Heisman Trophy by rushing for 81 yards and catching three passes for 71 yards. Humm completed13 of 19 pass attempts for 185 yards while counterpart Clements completed9 of 22 attempts for 103 yards.

The win provided a brilliant cap to Devaney's sensational career. The Huskers finished the season ranked fourth in the nation. With Devaney now retired, the Huskers put their hopes for the future into the relatively inexperienced hands of new head coach Tom Osborne. History would decide if Osborne would live up to the high standards set by Bob Devaney.  

Husker history at Sharkfeet keeps on growing, and that's exactly why you should keep coming back for more!Nebraska football at Sharkfeet is not affiliated with the University of Nebraska or it's athletic department.



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