Cotton Bowl

1965

 

Arkansas 10

Nebraska 7

Arkansas Fight Song

 

By Allan Gilbert Jr.

Northwest Arkansas Times

 

DALLAS- Arkansas' dauntless Razorbacks - pride, honor and prestige reduced through 3 1/2 quarters to little more than a fond memory- dug deep in their arsenal of versatility here yesterday for a resolute, pulse-pounding 80 yard, nine play drive late in the final quarter for the touchdown that defeated Nebraska 10-7 in the 1965 Cotton Bowl game.

 

Arkansas' win plus Texas' thrilling victory over Alabama at Miami last night gave the Razorbacks a strong claim to the No. 1 ranking in college football for 1964. Whatever the outcome of the balloting for the Grantland Rice trophy, which goes to the national champion on a vote of the Football Writers Association, the Cotton Bowl win stamped the 1964 Razorbacks as the winningest, and one of the very greatest teams ever to represent the University of Arkansas.

 

Victory No. 11 didn't come easily, however. It was, in the face of a big, determined and multi-talented Nebraska team, a victory very nearly the caliber of the classic verdict gained against Texas during the regular season.

 

Against Nebraska the Porkers were forced to pick themselves off the floor for an amazing comeback. It was a new role for the Porkers and they played it superbly.

 

Quarterback Fred Marshall engineered the late charge to victory. Rallying his team in fading minutes of the game he started on his own 20-yard line and herded his mates 80 quick yards to immortality. In that drive he completed 5 of 5 passes for 60 yards, ran for an additional 11 yards and nailed down the award as the game's outstanding backfield performer.

 

The payoff touchdown came on a crisp, flashing effort from Bobby Burnett, the high-stepping junior tailback from Smackover, who drove in from 3 yards out. The 190 pound Burnett covered the distance- 3 of the finer yards of Arkansas football history- on a daringly wide and exquisitely timed pitchout by Marshall (video).

 

Nebraska's linebacker, Joe McNulty hit the flying Burnett at the 1, but could not contain him. All 80 yards of the drive had an air of manifest destiny about them. Burnett caught one of Marshall's passes on his fingertips, almost- but not quite- dropping it.

 

Wingback Jim Lindsey, running hard to his right looked back just as a Marshall pass was going over his head, he flagged down the ball for a crucial first down on a third down play.

 

Marshall, back to pass, was trapped for a long loss and managed his only effective scrambling of the day, gaining 11 yards and a first down at NU's 32. Another pass to Lindsey was inches away from an incompletion. And then there was the supremely confident, almost brash, pitch to Burnett for the touchdown.

 

Tom McKnelly, who booted the first period field goal from 31-yards away, added the point and, for Arkansas, it was then a question of working 4:41 off the clock. That the defense did, but not without an argument.

 

Throughout the ‘64 season, Nebraska had been a team of long plays . . . and UA coach, Frank Broyles was concerned with this aspect of the Husker attack during pre-bowl training.

 

Sure enough, the Nebraskans popped through the Arkansas defenses for two long gainers, one leading to a second quarter NU touchdown. Using the combination of an Arkansas fumble and the second quarter wind advantage, Nebraska sprang a 36-yard pass play on the Hogs about midway in the second quarter that moved from NU's 46 to the Arkansas 18. Nifty sophomore quarterback, Bob Churchich threw the ball to substitute halfback Harry Wilson, a fleet 190 pounder. Four plays later the same Wilson barged into the Hog end zone to snap a string of 21 consecutive scoreless quarters handed the opposition by the Arkansas defense (video). Duncan Drum, a squat center, hooted the point after for Nebraska and Arkansas found itself in the unfamiliar position of not playing too well . . . and being behind.

 

Actually, the Porker defenses were excellent throughout the game (video). Except for the 38-yard pass caught by Wilson and a 45- yard jaunt he authored in the fourth quarter, the Arkansas defense limited Nebraska to less than 100 yards total offense.

 

Wilson's long ground gainer turned some red Hog hairs a bit gray, but did not result in any points and it was immediately after that scare that Marshall launched the pay-off drive.

 

Nebraska, having demonstrated a ready potential to strike from long distance, did not concede a thing as Arkansas regained the lead with 4:41 remaining. A fine punt return was reeled off by Nebraska's 160 pound fullback, Frank Solich, and Arkansas then drew a 15-yard holding penalty. Four more plays netted a first down for Nebraska at the 50 and the nail chewers had their mouths full again.

 

The great Arkansas defensive tackle Loyd Phillips and Jim Johnson combining with linebackers Ronnie Smith and Ron Caveness (who rated the outstanding lineman award), then chilled Nebraska's Churchich for two long losses that collected the ball for the Hogs at the NU 34.

 

The last minute and a half saw Marshall setting on the ball like a mother hen. Marshall, in rounding off a fabulous senior year by being chosen the outstanding back of the Cotton Bowl, emerged from the game with the distinction of being one of the most honored backs in Southwest Conference history . . . and yet with hardly a nibble from a professional football team.

 

Warm, humid, overcast and windy weather prevailed. A brisk breeze whipped along at the back of the team hitting at a northerly direction . . . and the wind, as things turned out, proved a vital factor as the game went on.

 

Arkansas lost the toss preceding the game, but chose the wind advantage after Nebraska decided to receive the kickoff. Using the wind and a stout defense, Arkansas moved to a quick, good field position, and a field goal (video).

 

In the second quarter, Nebraska used a Marshall fumble plus the wind to score its only touchdown. Arkansas chose the ball opening the second half and Nebraska took the wind. Neither team scored, but Nebraska held favorable field position and did try one rather optimistic field goal from 55 yards out.

 

It appeared midway in the third period that Arkansas strategy was developing into one of holding on until the fourth quarter when the wind advantage would be regained. The Hogs remained conservative in the face of a four-point deficit during their last third quarter possession and Bobby Nix, who punted beautifully throughout the game, got the comeback in gear as the last quarter opened with a booming kick that moved Nebraska well back into its own territory.

 

The UA field position advantage vanished when Nebraska's Wilson popped for 45-yards to the Arkansas 35 midway in the quarter, but with the chips all on the table, the Arkansas defense held Nebraska to four yards on three plays. The Huskers, nursing a lead, and obviously feeling at that point that their defense was up to containing Marshall and his cohorts, punted from the Arkansas 37 after taking a delay penalty at the 32. It was there and then that Marshall began finding rabbits instead of goat horns in his hat.

 

Marshall's finish erased an unpleasant three quarters dealt him by the NU defense. The Arkansas senior lost the ball twice on fumbles, had one pass intercepted and missed his mark on several passes with receivers available. His mechanical errors were the first of consequence by Arkansas in its last four games.

 

For Arkansas the victory was historic in many respects. Besides being the perfect climax to a perfect 10-0 season, it marked Arkansas, first Cotton Bowl win in history. It also marked the first bowl loss ever suffered by Nebraska coach Bob Devaney.

 

Arkansas heroes were, as throughout the regular season, sprinkled generously between offensive and defensive alignments. Jerry Lamb, who was something of a question mark after hurting a leg in practice, was outstanding as a blocker and pass receiver.

 

Burnett was scintillating. Lindsey was excellent. Both squads exhibited outstanding defenses and both coaches apparently decided early in the game- if not before- to lean on the defense, work for field position, and wait for a break. Until Marshall finally took matters in hands in the fading minutes, that's the way it was and Nebraska, up to that point, had had the big breaks.

 

Both teams made 11 first downs and how effectively the defenses dominated play is seen in Nebraska's offense of 100 yards rushing and 68 passing and Arkansas' 45 rushing and 131 passing.

 

Nebraska’s Larry Kramer, as advertised, was outstanding on offense and John Strohmeyer, 230 pound junior tackle, was the Huskers finest defensive player.

 

Harry Jones collars Cornhusker receiver Freeman White.

 

Bob Burnett dives for yards.

 

Arkansas' Fred Marshall.

 

Nebraska's Churchich hands off the Frank Solich.

 

Frank Broyles, Assistant Coach Barry Switzer and Bobby Burnett tell team to hold it down in the final seconds.

 

The National Champions

 

Although they lost, Devaney and Nebraska's quest for the national title had begun.

 

Attendance- 75,000

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
Ark- McKnelly 31 FG

Second Quarter
Neb- Wilson 1 run (Drum kick)

Fourth Quarter:
Ark- Burnett 3 run (McKnelly kick)

Individual Statistics

Rushing
Neb- Wilson 12-84, Solich 11-34, McCloughan 8-24
Ark- Burnett 11-23, Lindsey 3-14

Passing
Neb- Churchich 8-15-68
Ark- Marshall 11-19-131

Receiving
Neb- Wilson 1-36, White 2-18
Ark- Lindsey 3-54, Burnett 5-44, Lamb 3-33

 

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