Bowl Flashback: Big Red bullies Bulldogs

The 1969 Sun Bowl looked to be a mismatch and it turned out to be that way.

December 20th, 1969

The 1969 Sun Bowl looked to be a mismatch and it turned out to be that way.

The 14th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers came into the contest with an 8-2 record while the Georgia Bulldogs were limping in at 5-4-1, having not won a game in nearly two months.

The Bulldogs were without the services of starting quarterback Mike Cavan and two of its top three rushers in Bruce Kemp and Craig Elrod.

Pretty much everyone predicted a blowout win by the Huskers. A major newspaper suggested the Bulldogs "bow out" of the bowl but oddsmakers had Georgia as only a one-touchdown underdog.

Nebraska junior linebacker Jerry Murtaugh, the Most Valuable Lineman of the game, felt the Huskers had a really good football team all year and that they were much better than people gave them credit for. He expected a good game from the Bulldogs.

"Going into that bowl game against Georgia, we didn't know much about them, we had some film. We knew their record wasn't that good but figured if they were there they must be pretty good." But after the game Murtaugh saw how much of a difference this was between the two teams.

"Personally Georgia did not belong in the game with us," said Murtaugh who was playing in his first bowl game. "It wasn't much of a contest; we outplayed them on both sides of the ball. We got to them right off the bat and just dominated. We just controlled them very well. They scored late in the fourth quarter when we had a lot of substitutes in."

Before 31,728 fans, the Huskers got off fast in the first quarter when junior placekicker Paul Rogers kicked a Nebraska and Big 8 record four first quarter field goals of 50, 32, 42, and 37 yards.

Rogers, the Most Valuable Player, had a great day kicking according to Murtaugh. "Paul was kicking the heck out of the ball that day with 50 and 40 yarders."

NU quarterback Van Brownson drove the Huskers down the field with a 45-yard pass to split end Guy Ingles which later set up a Jeff Kinney 11-yard touchdown. A failed two-point conversion made it 15-0 with 7:21 left. Rogers later added a 42-yarder with 4:54 left in the quarter after cornerback Dana Stephenson picked off a Georgia pass.

The second quarter was scoreless but everyone in the stands or those watching on television knew that Nebraska was dominating the game. Georgia was lucky to be down 18-0 at halftime.

The Huskers got on the Bulldogs early in the third quarter, converting two turnovers into touchdowns.

The first came after a fumble by UGA. The Big Red drove 42 yards and ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Brownson to fullback Mike Green. Then moments later Murtaugh intercepted a Bulldog pass and was tackled at the UGA one-yard line. On the next play Brownson plunged in for the score to make it 32-0 with 10:30 left in the quarter.

With Nebraska well in charge, they coasted into the fourth quarter. After another Husker touchdown made it 38-0, NU started making substitutions. Georgia took advantage of that and got on the board with a touchdown, but missed the extra point.

But the Huskers got the points back after recovering a Bulldog on-sides kick try and moved down the field for 49 yards with quarterback Jerry Tagge running it in from two yards with a little over four minutes left in the game. NU dominated the stat line thanks to its defense. The Blackshirts held Georgia to 185 yard of total offense, with only 55 yards rushing. They also forced eight turnovers converting four of them into points.

The 45-6 loss left an empty feeling for Georgia head coach Vince Dooley.

"We would liked to have played a better game but it was Nebraska's fault that we didn't. We should have been home by the fire watching Nebraska whip up on somebody else. What a miserable afternoon."

The win evened Bob Devaney's bowl record to a 3-3 at Nebraska. A final 9-2 record with a #11/12 national ranking was very satisfying for Murtaugh and the rest of the Husker team.

"Coach Devaney came off two 6-4 seasons and he needed this [win]. That season set the tone for the following years to come," Murtaugh said.

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Shane Gilster is the Editor of Big Red Report Magazine. His stories focus mainly on catching up with former Huskers and examining Nebraska athletic history.
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