Trip in Time: 50 years ago this week, previously winless Jayhawks surprised No. 8 Huskers

All-America defensive end John Zook keys shutout in Pepper Rodgers’ first KU victory

50 years ago this week, on Oct. 14, 1967, Pepper Rodgers (pictured) and Kansas beat Nebraska 10-0. (AP File Photo/GB)

50 YEARS AGO | OCT. 14, 1967

 

KANSAS 10, NEBRASKA 0

LAWRENCE — Following an 0-3 start against nonconference opponents, the beginning of Pepper Rodgers’ tenure as Kansas coach was rocky at best.

Especially since the Jayhawks’ Big Eight opener would be played against Nebraska, ranked No. 8 under Bob Devaney.

Kansas, however, used a stifling defensive effort led by All-America end John Zook to hand Nebraska its first shutout defeat in 60 games. The 10-0 upset also ended a 103-game string in which Devaney’s teams had scored, dating to his time as head coach at Wyoming.

During practices, Rodgers attempted to simplify KU’s defensive approach.

“We wanted our players to be more intense,’’ Rodgers said. “You can’t think when you’re playing with intensity. So we gave all of the people fewer things to do. We didn’t change any of the defenses. We just played fewer of them. We figured we wouldn’t give (Nebraska) anything easy.’’

Zook, who recorded 15 tackles, led a defensive stand late in the first half when the Huskers failed to score from the Kansas 3 as time expired.

Bobby Douglass scored on a 4-yard keeper in the second quarter for the game’s only touchdown. Bill Bell added a 30-yard field goal with 36 seconds left following an interception by Tommy Ball. Two fourth-quarter squib kicks by Donnie Shanklin and a fumble recovery by Orville Turgeon blunted any Nebraska bid to rally.

“I haven’t had a thrill like this in a long time,’’ said Rodgers, who was hired by KU after serving as an assistant for Georgia Tech, Air Force, Florida and UCLA.

The Jayhawks went on to tie for second in the Big Eight with a 5-2 mark after going winless in conference play the year before.

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