The distance: 4 yards
The star: Johnny Rodgers
The date: Jan. 1, 1973
The outcome: Huskers 40, Notre Dame 6
And everybody thought Johnny Rodgers had done it all.
In his final game as a Husker, the Heisman Trophy-winning wingback did something he hadn’t done his entire Nebraska career:
Start a game at I-back.
“The coaches said they wanted to put more depth in our running game and so they told me I was going to line up at I-back,” Rodgers said after the 1973 Orange Bowl, a 40-6 shellacking of Notre Dame.
“I didn’t mind it a bit. I said they could put me anywhere they wanted and I’d get the job done. I told ‘em to run me until I fell over.”
Rodgers had played I-back on the freshman team, but never on varsity. He responded by running for three touchdowns against the Irish — including a 4-yard run that makes the 100 Club.
For good measure, Rodgers also threw for a touchdown — 52 yards to Frosty Anderson — and caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from David Humm.
Rodgers’ only regret was not meeting his goal of 100 rushing yards.
“Man, that’s tough to get 100 yards running,” he said. “I’ve really got respect for those dudes that go 100 yards in a game. But I proved some things to some people and to some pro scouts. I proved that I can get that inside, tough yardage.”
Nebraska won its third straight Orange Bowl and sent Bob Devaney out a winner in his final game as head coach.
“Probably one of our best games of the season,” said Devaney, whose team was coming off a loss to Oklahoma and was out of the national championship hunt. “There’s no doubt Southern Cal should be No. 1, but on a given day I still feel that we could have a chance against any team in the country.”
The loss was Notre Dame’s worst since a 59-0 loss to Army in 1942.