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LINCOLN, Neb.—(November 21, 1970)—After squandering two touchdown opportunities in the first quarter, unbeaten Nebraska got the hint that underdog Oklahoma was not going to go away quietly.
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Sure enough, the outcome wasn't decided until the final play, when Husker defensive back Jim Anderson picked off Jack Mildren's heave aimed for Jon Harrison in the end zone. A nerve-wracking 28-21 win was in the books, and Nebraska's outside shot at its first national championship remained alive.
The 9-0-1 Huskers entered the game ranked No. 3 in the nation and were heavily favored against the Sooners, unranked at 6-3. But this was an improving OU squad, getting more familiar week by week with the wishbone offense that coach Chuck Fairbanks installed six games earlier.
Twice the Huskers trailed, and twice they rallied to tie the score, at 7-7 and 14-14. Not until the game was nearly two-thirds over did Nebraska grab its first lead, 21-14. That advantage soon vanished when a Sooner touchdown in the opening moments of the fourth quarter made it 21-21.
With the season on the line, Nebraska's Jerry Tagge engineered the game-winning drive. It was a 53-yard march, and the junior quarterback kept it alive with a pair of crucial third-down passes. The first went for 14 yards to end Jerry List. The other was good for 24 yards to fullback Dan Schneiss, whose fingertip grab over the middle in traffic gave NU a first-and-goal at the OU three. Two plays later, Tagge scored from a yard out to make it 28-21 with 7:42 remaining.
This time, the Sooners couldn't answer, and Nebraska appeared ready to salt the game away when Husker placekicker Paul Rogers lined up for 37-yard field goal try with 1:25 left. But the kick sailed wide right, setting the stage for the game-ending drama.
FIRST HALF. The game started smoothly enough for NU, but troubles near the goal line proved costly.
Nebraska took the opening kickoff and reeled off four first downs. But Johnny Rodgers fumbled on a 16-yard pass play, and Oklahoma linebacker Steve Casteel recovered at the six. On its next possession, Nebraska got to the OU one, where the Sooners stopped running back Joe Orduna on a fourth-down play.
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After the scoreless first quarter came a four-touchdown second period. Oklahoma took the first lead by moving 73 yards in 13 plays. Mildren covered the final five yards on a quarterback keeper.
After the ensuing kickoff, Nebraska needed only four plays to tie it up. From the NU 47, Tagge passed to Rodgers, who caught the ball at the OU 35 and broke away from two tacklers for the TD.
Just two minutes later, Oklahoma led again. Halfback Joe Wylie broke over left tackle at the NU 37 and outran the Husker secondary for a TD.
Nebraska took the ensuing kickoff and marched 79 yards to again tie the score. The TD came on a three-yard run up the middle by Orduna.
The teams went into intermission tied at 14-14 after Rogers missed a 62-yard field goal try on the last play of the first half.
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SECOND HALF. The third quarter unfolded as a stalemate until a one-yard punt by Wylie gave Nebraska a short field. The Huskers covered the 45 yards in eight plays, with Tagge and Guy Ingles connecting for a 13-yard TD that gave NU its first lead, 21-14.
Oklahoma evened things up, 21-21, with an 80-yard, 17-play drive. The first 16 plays, all on the ground, got the Sooners to the Husker ten. From there, halfback Wylie surprised the Huskers by rolling right and passing to end Willie Franklin for the TD.
Not long after that came the winning drive engineered by Tagge, followed by the game-ending interception. Only after Anderson snagged Mildren's aerial could the Memorial Stadium crowd breathe a sigh of relief and begin celebrating.
NOTES. Paul Rogers' four extra-point kicks gave him 48 for the season, breaking the old Big Eight record of 45 set by Bill Bell of Kansas in 1968. ... The Sooners accepted a Bluebonnet Bowl invitation after the game. ... Johnny Rodgers had a 66-yard punt return nullified by a clipping penalty. ... Husker QB Van Brownson was used only as a holder on kicks. ... OU's Joe Wylie led all rushers with 125 yards on 24 carries.