January 1st, 1974
Dallas, Texas -
Tom Osborne scored his first bowl victory as the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, as NU shut down Texas 19-3 in the Cotton Bowl.
Texas was making its straight consecutive trip to the Cotton Bowl and came into the game ranked #8 (AP) in the country. Meanwhile the Huskers were ranked #12 in the same poll and were making their second appearance in the Cotton Bowl. The last time they made the trip to Dallas, NU faced #2 Arkansas and lost 10-7 in a fierce defensive battle.
History seemed to repeat itself as the Huskers and Horns both played tough on defense throughout the game.
It was Nebraska though that played better, as the Big Red defense limited the Longhorns to 196 yards of total offense, forced five turnovers and gave up only a field goal.
The game began with Nebraska fumbling on their first possession allowing Texas to march 29 yards in eight plays, culminating in a 22-yard field goal by Billy Schott.
The quarter would end with Texas leading 3-0 as both teams struggled to find a consistent offense.
Once again the Longhorns were opportunistic on defense as they intercepted a Nebraska pass to begin the second quarter, setting their offense up in great field position for another score.
But the Husker defense returned the favor as Texas’s All-American fullback Roosevelt Leaks, got hit hard causing the ball to pop up in the air. NU defensive end Steve Manstedt was in the right place to the grab the football and take off 65 yards all the way down to the Texas 6-yard line.
The Huskers could not score a touchdown so they ended up with a 24-yard field goal by Rich Sanger.
With the score tied at 3-3, Nebraska mounted one last drive before halftime to get some points on the board.
Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Huskers used less than four minutes off the clock to move all the way to the Texas 1-yard line.
With 1:29 left before halftime, NU was confident in their running game to be able to punch the ball over for their first touchdown.
The Longhorns had other ideas, as linebacker Wade Johnston spearheaded a classic goal-line stand for Texas as time ran out on the final Husker try on fourth and goal.
Despite the bitter taste of the failed touchdown try at the end of the first half, Nebraska came out in the third quarter inspired.
“Texas was jumping up and down and hollering,” Osborne said. “So we had to show them who was in charge.”
Back-up quarterback Steve Runty took over for starter David Humm, and led Nebraska to 10 unanswered points in the third quarter.
The first score came at the 3:05 mark as the Huskers punched in the game’s first touchdown on a 12-yard run by Ritch Bahe, giving NU a 10-3 lead.
The second score was set-up after a Longhorn fumble at the Texas 19-yard line.
A minute and a half later, I-back Tony Davis took a pitchout from three yards out for the touchdown.
The extra point was blacked but the touchdown gave Nebraska a breathable 16-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Husker defense held Texas off the scoreboard in the final quarter and Sanger kicked a 43-yard field goal at the 8:02 mark to close out the scoring.
Even though the game was a defensive battle, the Cornhuskers still managed to rack up 331 yards of total offense, 240 of that coming on the ground.
The stars of the game were Johnston of Texas and Davis of Nebraska.
Davis ended up with 106 yards rushing on 28 carries against a tough Texas defense while the more heralded Leaks, only ran for 48 yards on 13 carries against the Huskers.
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