Nebraska’s No. 1-ranked Cornhuskers visited the Island of Oahu in Hawaii, enjoyed the sunshine and Waikiki Beach — and came home with a 45-3 victory for a perfect 12-0-0 season.
It was Nebraska’s 31st straight game without a loss and the Huskers’ 22nd straight win, setting up their second “battle for No. 1” of the season, this time against Alabama in the Orange Bowl.
Hawaii’s Rainbows gave the Huskers a spirited contest, but the Big 8 champions simply overpowered the hosts while some 8,000 red-clad boosters cheered their efforts.
Rich Sanger kicked a 32-yard field goal to get the Huskers rolling early and Dave Mason’s interception and 25-yard run for a touchdown made it 10-0. Jerry Tagge then hit Jerry List for an 80-yard TD play and NU led, 17-0, at the quarter.
After that the Huskers coasted to win No. 12, leading 24-3 at halftime and 31-3 at the three-quarter mark.
Recap source: 1971 media guide
Coach Bob Devaney gave the players time off until Dec. 15.
Hawaii averaged 196 yards rushing in its previous 10 games but managed just 47 yards on 41 carries against the Huskers. However, Hawaii’s passing yardage — 204 — was the highest total yielded by the 1971 Huskers.
Larry Sherrer, the first Hawaii player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, gained 15 yards on 14 carries and finished the year with 1,129 yards.
Police made several arrests of ticket scalpers before the game. Tickets with a face value of $5 or $6 were going for $22 to $100.