Now Playing: Nebraska Vs. LSU (1971 Orange Bowl)

1971 Orange

Today's full-play oldie is a REAL oldie. Following losses by No. 1 Texas (24-11 to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl) and No. 2 Ohio State (27-17 to Stanford in the Rose Bowl), Bob Devaney wrapped up his first national title at Nebraska with a 17-12 win over No. 5 LSU in the Orange Bowl.

Five thoughts:

  1. Quarterbacks didn't know how to throw the ball away in 1971. Early in LSU's last-ditch drive, you see LSU quarterback Bert Jones' stats: 5-for-8 passing. That included at least four sacks, and not just "hurl yourself forward into the collapsing pocket and lose two yards" sacks; I'm talking "run backwards until three guys inevitably bring you down" sacks. Complete and utter drive-killers. If Jones had just thrown the damn ball away (because you could see every sack coming from a mile away), he'd have gone about 5-for-12, and LSU might have won. But quarterbacks just didn't do that.

    (Nebraska quarterback Jerry Tagge, meanwhile, took a couple of the same types of sacks. Meanwhile, announcers late in the game say that Tagge has had "quite a night," going 11-for-22 for 127 yards.)

    It's fun watching old games because of the random similarities -- the screens, the trick plays, etc. But quarterbacks were meant to be even-to-their-own-detriment heroes in 1971, and it caused so many awful, avoidable plays.

  2. The 1971 Orange Bowl logo (above) was terrifying. So was Lil' Red's predecessor.

  3. Two years after this game, Johnny Rodgers would win the Heisman Trophy. This was not one of his finest games. He was still in his out-of-control colt stage at this point, and he suffered a costly drop and an even costlier muffed punt in the first half. It's funny looking back and realizing that the "greats" weren't always great.

  4. LSU had one of the best run defenses in the country in 1970, and you can tell that Nebraska was a little cowed by it. They attempted to catch LSU off guard by passing quite a bit, only they weren't actually very good at it. They got away with the strategy because an early LSU turnover gave them a short field, easy touchdown drive, and a 10-0 lead. They milked that for all it was worth, eventually fell behind, 12-10, then pulled off a comfortable, plodding touchdown drive to take the lead for good.

  5. Watch the absolutely incredible play that wraps up the ballgame. In 2012, that would have been on SportsCenter 1,536 times.
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