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This Week in College Football History

Courtesy of the National Football Foundation

Featured Moment: November 25, 1971

On Nov. 25, 1971, future Hall of Fame halfback Johnny Rodgers returned a punt 72 yards for a Nebraska
touchdown in the Cornhuskers' thrilling 35-31 Thanksgiving Day victory over Oklahoma. (Photo: NFF)

This report researched and written by College Football Hall of Fame Curator and Historian Kent Stephens

Posted by on Nov. 17, 2012


November 25, 1971: When the all-time list of greatest games is compiled, the Thanksgiving Day game played in Norman between top-ranked Nebraska and second-ranked Oklahoma will always be listed at or near the top. One of the day’s key matchups involved two future Hall of Famers, Cornhusker middle guard Rich Glover and Sooner center Tom Brahaney. Glover responded with a 22-tackle day on defense while his teammate and Hall of Fame halfback Johnny “The Jet” Rodgers executed the game’s most remembered play on offense, returning a punt 72 yards for a touchdown. Despite trailing 14-3 after Rodgers scored, Oklahoma staged a remarkable comeback, taking a 31-28 lead. However, the Huskers battled back with a memorable final drive to capture a 35-31 victory. Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney’s squad would go on to capture the national championship.


November 19, 1932: Colgate, coached by Hall of Famer Andy Kerr, finished their season unbeaten (9-0) by defeating Brown 21-0 in Providence. The shutout win over the previously unbeaten Bears also gave the Red Raiders a season where they were unscored upon. Greatly hopeful of a Rose Bowl bid, Colgate saw a Pittsburgh team that had suffered two defeats travel to Pasadena instead. The slight was forever remembered by Colgate followers as the team that was “Unbeaten, Unscored Upon and Uninvited.”

November 20, 1982: At Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, No. 2 SMU preserved their unbeaten season, tying No. 9 Arkansas 17-17. QB Lance McIlhenny scored on a 2-yard run to cap an 80-yard drive. RB Eric Dickerson rushed for 81 yards, becoming the all-time leading rusher in SWC history. The tie clinched the Mustangs’ second straight SWC title and their first appearance in the Cotton Bowl since 1966 where they defeated Pittsburgh. They finished 11-0-1 and No. 2 in the country. The Hogs would end up 9-2-1 and ranked No. 9.

November 21, 1992: During the second half of the Rice-Navy game in Houston, severe thunderstorms delayed play for more than an hour, but the weather could not prevent the Owls from a 27-22 victory, assuring the school’s first winning season since 1963. With the Navy defense geared to stop Trevor Cobb, the 1991 Doak Walker Award winner, Rice turned to quarterback Bert Emanuel to provide the offense as he threw for 275 yards and scored two touchdowns. Coach Fred Goldsmith’s Owls finished 6-5, just missing out on a bowl bid.

November 22, 1913: There was a time when skillful use of one’s foot dominated the game. Such was the case in 1913 when Harvard hosted Yale in Cambridge during their annual battle. Harvard Hall of Fame halfback Eddie Mahan kept Yale in poor field position for most of the game as his 16 punts went for an average of 49 yards. Hall of Fame coach Percy Haughton saw his Harvard squad break out first on a 26-yard field goal by Charley Brickley. Known as college football’s greatest drop-kicker, Brickley would add four more drop kicked field goals in the 15-5 victory. The win ensured a national title for the undefeated Crimson (9-0).

November 23, 1918: During the World War I, major college teams often played regular season contests against service teams. The highlight of these matchups came when the Great Lakes Naval Training Station team came to Annapolis to play Navy. Hall of Fame coach Gil Dobie’s Midshipmen were undefeated as were the Bluejackets. The Great Lakes team featured many ex-collegians, including Northwestern Hall of Fame halfback Paddy Driscoll. After a scoreless first half, Navy All-American Wolcott Roberts caught a touchdown pass from Bill Ingram (who would later have a Hall of Fame coaching career.) Navy missed the extra point, but the error seemed mute as they subsequently drove to the Great Lakes’ one. There Ingram fumbled into the end zone. Harry Eileson scooped up the ball for Great Lakes, and he headed up field past the Navy sideline. Middie reserve William Saunders jumped off the bench, tackling the surprised Eileson. The officials ruled that Eileson would have scored on the play, and when the Bluejackets added the extra point, they came away with a 7-6 win.

November 24, 1973: Never before had an Ohio State-Michigan game spurred more controversy than the 1973 game in Ann Arbor between the undefeated and top-ranked Buckeyes and the unbeaten and fourth-ranked Wolverines. The matchup of Hall of Fame coaches Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler saw Ohio State take a 10-0 halftime lead on the 99-rushing yards of Hall of Famer Archie Griffin. In the fourth quarter Michigan tied the game, but missed two late, game-winning field goal attempts. With the conference standings tied, Big Ten athletic directors voted the next morning on which team would represent the conference in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes won the vote with many believing OSU got the nod because Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin had broken his collarbone late in the game and could not play on New Year’s Day. On January 1, the Buckeyes dominated Southern Cal 42-21 and finished #4 in the country. Michigan finished ranked fifth.

11/16/2012 05:16 PM


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