1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers football
Consensus national champion
Big Eight champion
Orange Bowl champion
Orange Bowl, W 38–6 vs. Alabama
ConferenceBig Eight Conference
CoachesNo. 1
APNo. 1
Record13–0 (7–0 Big 8)
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorTom Osborne (3rd season)
Offensive schemeI formation
Defensive coordinatorWarren Powers (3rd season)
Base defense5–2
Home stadiumMemorial Stadium
← 1970
1972 →
1971 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 1 Nebraska $ 7 0 0 13 0 0
No. 2 Oklahoma 6 1 0 11 1 0
No. 3 Colorado 5 2 0 10 2 0
Iowa State 4 3 0 8 4 0
Kansas State 2 5 0 5 6 0
Oklahoma State 2 5 0 4 6 1
Kansas 2 5 0 4 7 0
Missouri 0 7 0 1 10 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team represented the University of Nebraska in the Big Eight Conference during the 1971 NCAA University Division football season. The Cornhuskers were led by tenth-year head coach Bob Devaney and played their home games at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

The Cornhuskers finished the season undefeated at 13–0, repeating as national champions. They outscored their 13 opponents 507 to 104, held ten of them to single-digit points or fewer (including three shutouts), and famously defeated second-ranked Oklahoma on the road in a game that has been referred to as the "Game of the Century". In the years since, the 1971 Nebraska team has been cited by some sports pundits as the greatest in college football history.[1][2]

The 1971 Cornhuskers were one of the most dominant teams in college football history, winning twelve of their thirteen games by 24 points (or more) and defeating the next three teams in the final AP poll. The sole close game of the season was the Game of the Century at No. 2 Oklahoma on Thanksgiving. Nebraska decisively beat No. 3 Colorado (then No. 9) 31–7 in Lincoln and No. 4 Alabama (then No. 2) 38–6 in the Orange Bowl in Miami, capturing the consensus national championship. [3]


September 111:30 pmOregon*No. 2W 34–767,437
September 181:30 pmMinnesota*No. 1
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE (rivalry)
W 35–768,187
September 251:30 pmTexas A&M*No. 1
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE
W 34–767,993
October 21:30 pmUtah State*No. 1
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE
W 42–667,421
October 91:30 pmat MissouriNo. 1W 36–061,200
October 161:30 pmKansasdaggerNo. 1
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE (rivalry)
W 55–065,542–68,331
October 231:30 pmat Oklahoma StateNo. 1W 41–1337,000
October 3012:50 pmNo. 9 ColoradoNo. 1
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE (rivalry)
ABCW 31–766,776
November 61:30 pmIowa StateNo. 1
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE
W 37–067,201
November 131:30 pmat Kansas StateNo. 1W 44–1742,300
November 251:50 pmat No. 2 OklahomaNo. 1ABCW 35–3161,826
December 412:00 amat Hawaii*No. 1W 45–323,002
January 1, 19727:00 pmvs. No. 2 Alabama*No. 1NBCW 38–673,151[4]
  • *Non-conference game
  • daggerHomecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • All times are in Central time



Adkins, John #57 (Sr.) DE
Anderson, Dan #67 (So.) RG
Anderson, Frosty #89 (So.) SE
Anderson, Jim #18 (Sr.) RCB
Austin, Al #78 (So.) RT
Bell, John #31 (Jr.) MG
Beran, Mike #62 (Jr.) RG
Blahak, Joe #27 (Jr.) LCB
Borg, Randy #19 (So.) RCB
Branch, Jim #51 (Jr.) LB
Brownson, Van #12 (Sr.) QB
Butts, Randy #36 (So.) HB
Carstens, Jim #47 (Jr.) FB
Coleman, Ron #9 (So.) QB
Cox, Woody #32 (Sr.) SE
Crenshaw, Marvin #70 (So.) RT
Damkroger, Maury #46 (So.) FB
Deyke, Tom #94 (So.) DT
Didur, Dale #84 (Sr.) SE
Dixon, Gary #22 (Jr.) HB
Doak, Mark #93 (So.) NT
Duffy, Joe #52 (So.) LG
Dumler, Doug #54 (Jr.) C
Dutton, John #90 (So.) DT
Fuller, Bruce #8 (So.) S
Garson, Glen #39 (So.) HB
Glover, Rich #79 (Jr.) MG
Goeller, Dave #28 (So.) HB
Guibord, Greg #87 (So.) DE
Harper, Willie #81 (Jr.) DE


Harvey, Phil #82 (Sr.) TE
Hauge, Bruce #48 (Jr.) LB
Hegener, Stan #92 (So.) LT
Henderson, Joe #63 (So.) RG
Henrichs, Dennis #96 (So.) LG
Hill, Jeff #98 (So.) SE
Hollstein, Gary #29 (Sr.) LCB
Hughes, Jeff #26 (Sr.) HB
Humm, Dave #10 (So.) QB
Hunter, Ken #78 (Jr.) MG
Hyland, John #58 (Jr.) DE
Jacobson, Larry #75 (Sr.) DT
Jamail, Doug #50 (Jr.) C
Janssen, Bill #55 (Jr.) DT
Johnson, Carl #71 (Sr.) RT
Johnson, Doug #64 (Jr.) DE
Johnson, Monte #37 (Jr.) MG
Kinney, Jeff #35 (Sr.) HB
Kinsel, John #53 (Jr.) C
Kosch, Bill #24 (Sr.) S
Lackovic, Tim #80 (So.) SE
Linder, Max #88 (So.) SE
List, Jerry #85 (Jr.) TE
Longwell, Brent #86 (So.) TE
Lynch, Dan #73 (So.) DT
Manstedt, Steve #11 (So.) DE
Mason, Dave #25 (Jr.) MON
McClelland, Tom #16 (Sr.) S
McKinley, Kim #69 (So.) DT
Moran, Jeff #30 (So.) HB
Morell, Pat #40 (Sr.) LB


Nelson, Chris #99 (So.) TE
O'Connell, John #34 (So.) S
O'Holleran, Mike #38 (So.) HB
Olds, Bill #44 (Jr.) FB
Pabis, Bob #66 (Sr.) MG
Peetz, Mike #33 (So.) MON
Peterson, John (Unk) MG
Pitts, John #56 (Jr.) MON
Powell, Ralph #41 (So.) FB
Righetti, Phil #74 (Jr.) LT
Robison, Tom #68 (So.) DT
Rodgers, Johnny #20 (Jr.) HB
Runty, Steve #13 (So.) QB
Rupert, Dick #77 (Sr.) LG
Sanger, Rich #43 (So.) LB
Schmit, Bob #23 (So.) HB
Sloey, Bill #42 (Jr.) LB
Starkebaum, John #15 (So.) MON
Strong, Jon #49 (So.) LB
Tagge, Jerry #14 (Sr.) QB
Terrio, Bob #45 (Sr.) LB
Thornton, Bob #17 (Jr.) RCB
Weber, Bruce #61 (Sr.) LG
Westbrook, Don #21 (So.) HB
White, Daryl #72 (So.) LT
Wieser, Steve #83 (So.) DE
Wolfe, Bob #76 (So.) LT
Wortman, Keith #65 (Sr.) RG
Zanrosso, Dennis #59 (So.) C


Coaching staff

Name Title First year
in this position
Years at
Alma mater
Bob Devaney Head Coach 1962 1962–72 Alma
Tom Osborne Offensive coordinator 1969 1964–97 Hastings
Cletus Fischer Offensive Line 1960–85 Nebraska
Carl Selmer Offensive Line 1962–72
Jim Ross 1962–76
John Melton Tight Ends, Wingbacks 1973 1962–88 Wyoming
Mike Corgan Running Backs 1962 1962–82 Notre Dame
Monte Kiffin 1967–76 Nebraska
Warren Powers Defensive Backs 1969–76 Nebraska
Boyd Epley Head Strength Coach 1969 1969–2003 Nebraska
Bill Thornton 1969–72 Nebraska
Jim Walden 1971–72 Wyoming

Game summaries


Oregon at #2 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Oregon 0 007 7
#2 Nebraska 7 7713 34

The Nebraska reserves were on the field in the 4th quarter, working under a comfortable 34-0 lead, when a fumbled punt allowed Oregon to put in a late score to avoid the shutout with 3 minutes to play.

Two days later, Nebraska vaulted Notre Dame for the No. 1 spot in the polls and never relinquished it.


Minnesota at #1 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Minnesota 0 700 7
#1 Nebraska 14 7140 35

Minnesota managed a 2nd-quarter touchdown, but the game was never really in doubt as Nebraska extended their unbeaten streak to 21 games.

Texas A&M

Texas A&M at #1 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Texas A&M 0 007 7
#1 Nebraska 7 6147 34

Two huge plays left Nebraska's signature on the Texas A&M win, as Johnny Rodgers tore off a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Bill Kosch returned an interception 95 yards for a score of his own. The Aggies also managed a big score for their only points, an equally-impressive 94-yard kickoff return touchdown.

Utah State

Utah State at #1 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Utah State 0 060 6
#1 Nebraska 14 7147 42

Utah State was behind 0-35 when they managed to avoid the shutout with a 3rd-quarter touchdown, but the PAT was blocked. The Cornhuskers ran the margin of victory back up again with a final fourth-quarter touchdown.


#1 Nebraska at Missouri [box score]
1 234Total
#1 Nebraska 0 16146 36
Missouri 0 000 0

Nebraska was held scoreless for over 20 minutes, but Missouri eventually succumbed to the pressure as Nebraska then ran up 36 points and shut out the Tigers in Columbia.


Kansas at #1 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Kansas 0 000 0
#1 Nebraska 14 141314 55

Nebraska smashed Kansas at Homecoming for another shutout, holding the Jayhawks to 56 yards of total offense, barely more than one tenth of the Cornhuskers' 538 yards.

Oklahoma State

#1 Nebraska at Oklahoma State [box score]
1 234Total
#1 Nebraska 7 14137 41
Oklahoma State 0 0013 13

All of Oklahoma State's entire scoring was picked up in the last 2 minutes against Nebraska reserves, making the game appear closer than it was, if 41-13 can be called close.


#9 Colorado at #1 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
#9 Colorado 0 070 7
#1 Nebraska 7 1770 31

Nebraska rolled right out to a 24-0 lead by halftime and was cruising against #9 Colorado without much effort. The Buffaloes did manage a 3rd-quarter touchdown on a broken play, but Nebraska matched it and easily held on for the win.

Iowa State

Iowa State at #1 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Iowa State 0 000 0
#1 Nebraska 10 10710 37

The Cornhuskers held Iowa State to just 105 yards of offense and had no trouble holding the Sun Bowl-bound Cyclones off the scoreboard for another shutout.

Kansas State

#1 Nebraska at Kansas State [box score]
1 234Total
#1 Nebraska 14 1677 44
Kansas State 0 908 17

Nebraska QB Jerry Tagge became the first Cornhusker to exceed 5000 career yards at Kansas State as Nebraska scored touchdowns on each of its first four possessions. Johnny Rodgers also entered the record book with his 10-season touchdown receptions, 45 receptions on the season, and 84 receptions for his career. No other team managed to score so many points on Nebraska this season as did the Wildcats, but another convincing win was behind them as Nebraska prepared for a showdown with #2 Oklahoma to decide the Big 8 title and potentially the national championship.


Main article: 1971 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma football game

#1 Nebraska at #2 Oklahoma [box score]
1 234Total
#1 Nebraska 7 7147 35
#2 Oklahoma 3 1477 31

Oklahoma and Nebraska battled back and forth in the Game of the Century in front of a sold-out crowd in Norman and over 55 million viewers on ABC-TV on Thanksgiving Day. Nebraska struck first with a 72-yard Johnny Rodgers punt return, but Oklahoma pulled ahead by 3 by halftime. The Cornhuskers came back strong in the third quarter with two more touchdowns, but the Sooners responded with two of their own to retake the lead with only 7:10 remaining. Down by 3 points, the Huskers went on a final drive and with only 1:38 remaining, Jeff Kinney scored his fourth touchdown of the day for the lead and the win.[6][7][8]


#1 Nebraska at Hawaii [box score]
1 234Total
#1 Nebraska 17 7714 45
Hawaii 0 300 3

Almost 1/3 of the fans in the relatively sparse crowd were dressed in red and rooting for the Cornhuskers, as Nebraska handily won this game almost as an afterthought to the vacation in Honolulu. It was 24-3 at the half, and Hawaii never saw the scoreboard again.

The victory wrapped up the UPI coaches poll national championship for the Cornhuskers. The UPI did not conduct a post-bowl poll until 1974.


#2 Alabama vs #1 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
#2 Alabama 0 060 6
#1 Nebraska 14 1437 38

In the 1972 Orange Bowl, the Huskers battled a #2 team for the second time this season, but Alabama hardly posed the challenge that the Oklahoma Sooners had been, as Nebraska sent the Crimson Tide to the locker room at the half trailing by an embarrassing 28-0. Alabama managed a feeble third-quarter touchdown but failed in the following 2-point conversion and never scored again, while Nebraska responded with 10 more points of their own to close the game and ended the season as national champions for the second consecutive year and exact revenge for losses to Alabama in the 1966 Orange Bowl and 1967 Sugar Bowl.


See also: 1971 NCAA University Division football rankings

Ranking movements
Legend: ██ Increase in ranking ██ Decrease in ranking



Award Name(s)
Coach of the Year
Bob Devaney
NCAA District 6
Coach of the Year
Bob Devaney
Outland Trophy Larry Jacobson
All-America 1st team Rich Glover, Willie Harper, Larry Jacobson,
Jeff Kinney, Johnny Rodgers, Jerry Tagge
All-America 2nd team Dick Rupert
All-America 3rd team Carl Johnson
honorable mention
Doug Dumler, Bill Kosch
All-America Sophomore Daryl White
Big Eight Defensive
Player of the Year
Rich Glover
All-Big Eight
1st team
Jim Anderson, Joe Blahak, Rich Glover,
Willie Harper, Larry Jacobson, Carl Johnson,
Jeff Kinney, Bill Kosch, Johnny Rodgers,
Dick Rupert, Jerry Tagge, Bob Terrio
All-Big Eight
2nd team
Doug Dumler, Dave Mason
All-Big Eight
honorable mention
John Adkins, Bill Janssen, Jerry List,
Daryl White, Keith Wortman

Jerry Tagge finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1971,[10]
teammate Johnny Rodgers would win in 1972.[11]

1971 team players in the NFL

The 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers seniors selected in the 1972 NFL Draft:[12]

Player Position Round Pick Franchise
Jerry Tagge QB 1 11 Green Bay Packers
Jeff Kinney RB 1 23 Kansas City Chiefs
Larry Jacobson DT 1 24 New York Giants
Carl Johnson T 5 112 New Orleans Saints
Van Brownson QB 8 204 Baltimore Colts
Keith Wortman G 10 242 Green Bay Packers

The 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers juniors selected in the following year's 1973 NFL Draft:[13]

Player Position Round Pick Franchise
Johnny Rodgers WR 1 25 San Diego Chargers
Willie Harper LB 2 41 San Francisco 49ers
Monte Johnson LB 2 49 Oakland Raiders
Bill Olds RB 3 61 Baltimore Colts
Rich Glover DT 3 69 New York Giants
Doug Dumler C 5 108 New England Patriots
Joe Blahak DB 8 183 Houston Oilers
Bill Janssen T 8 206 Pittsburgh Steelers
Dave Mason DB 10 246 Minnesota Vikings
Jerry List TE 11 283 Oakland Raiders

The 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers sophomores selected in the 1974 NFL Draft:[14]

Player Position Round Pick Franchise
John Dutton DE 1 5 Baltimore Colts
Steve Manstedt LB 4 79 Houston Oilers
Daryl White G 4 98 Cincinnati Bengals
Bob Wolfe T 6 156 Miami Dolphins
Maury Damkroger LB 7 178 New England Patriots
Frosty Anderson WR 10 235 New Orleans Saints

NFL and pro players

The following is a list of 1971 Nebraska players who joined a professional team as draftees or free agents.[15]

Name Team
Joe Blahak Houston Oilers
Gary Dixon Southern California Sun
Mark Doak Birmingham Vulcans
Maury Damkroger New England Patriots
Doug Dumler New England Patriots
John Dutton Baltimore Colts
Rich Glover New York Giants
Willie Harper San Francisco 49ers
Dave Humm Oakland Raiders
Larry Jacobson New York Giants
Bill Janssen Charlotte Hornets
Carl Johnson New Orleans Saints
Monte Johnson Oakland Raiders
Jeff Kinney Kansas City Chiefs
Brent Longwell Memphis Southmen
Steve Manstedt Birmingham Americans
Dave Mason New England Patriots
Bill Olds Baltimore Colts
Johnny Rodgers Montreal Alouettes
Bob Schmit Portland Storm
Jerry Tagge Green Bay Packers
Don Westbrook New England Patriots
Daryl White Detroit Lions
Bob Wolfe Birmingham Americans
Keith Wortman Green Bay Packers


  1. ^ "Best college football teams of all time". ESPN Page 2. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  2. ^ Decourcey, Mike (January 14, 2020). "CFB 150: Top 10 teams in college football history". Sporting News. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  3. ^ "Football - 1971 Schedule/Results". University of Nebraska–Lincoln Athletics Department. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  4. ^ Reed, Delbert (January 2, 1972). "Cornhuskers kill Crimson Tide dream, 38–6". The Tuscaloosa News. p. 1B. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  5. ^ "1971 Football Roster". www.huskers.com. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  6. ^ "'Huskers dump Sooners". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. November 26, 1971. p. 3B.
  7. ^ "Kinney leads Nebraska triumph". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. November 26, 1971. p. 42.
  8. ^ Jenkins, Dan (December 6, 1971). "Nebraska rides high". Sports Illustrated. p. 22.
  9. ^ 1971 Husker Honors
  10. ^ Heisman.com Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine – Pat Sullivan – 1971
  11. ^ Heisman.com Archived 2011-11-08 at the Wayback Machine – Johnny Rodgers – 1972
  12. ^ "1972 NFL Draft Listing - Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007.
  13. ^ "1973 NFL Draft Listing - Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007.
  14. ^ "1974 NFL Draft Listing - Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007.
  15. ^ "All Time NFL Huskers". Archived from the original on August 15, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2009.