[Jon J - Woody is one of our new contributors. I hope you give him a hearty welcome to CN! Below is his bio. ]
"My name is Mark Woodside but my friends call me Woody. I live in Kearney and have been a Husker Fan since I could walk. I have been working on computers since the early 80's. I went to Kearney State College (UNK) and majored in Journalism with a Broadcast Minor. I joined the Navy in 1988 and was in Desert Storm. I received two Navy Achievement medals - Once for my work onboard the USNS Comfort and another for my work at Bethesda Naval Hospital. I am a member and current Commander of VFW Post 759 in Kearney and Senior Vice-Commander for Nebraska VFW District 13. I have done extensive research on the early Huskers and have a book in the works."
Just last week Corn Nation looked at the Husker’s Season from ten years ago. With the season looming around the corner, I’ve decided to bring the games from 100 years ago into the minds of all interested.
Keep in mind that in 1917 the United States had just entered World War I in April of that year. Many teams lost key players and the Huskers were no exception. Several players left before the end of the season. Things may have been different in a couple of the games at the end of the season but that is for future discussion.
It was the second year for Head Coach EJ “Doc” Stewart. He had a tough act to follow in his first year as Head Coach because he was following Ewald “Jumbo” Stiehm. Keep in mind that Steihm coached three undefeated seasons in a row. In five seasons Jumbo went 36-2-3 wit the last three seasons going 23-0-1.
Coach Stewart went 6-2 his first season, dropping the final game to Notre Dame 20-0.
The Huskers had a long time to think about the loss and came into the 2017 season with a chip on their shoulder. In the kickoff for the first week of the season the Huskers met with Nebraska Wesleyan. The Cornhuskers won in a landslide 100-0.
Any indication that the Huskers had played everything the first week and were out of gas was laid to rest by the second week. The Iowa Hawkeyes had problems getting past the Husker defensive line, and Nebraska quarterback John Cook lead the offense to 47 unanswered points.
During the game there was a scout from Notre Dame that was keeping watch on several key players. That person was none other than Knute Rockne. He was an assistant coach for the Hoosiers (what Notre Dame was called before they adopted the moniker “Fighting Irish”) at the time and did not have to worry because the Irish (what I’m referring them to here on out) had the week off.
Notre Dame had defeated Kalamazoo 47- 0 the first week. They had also taken a scare as an upstart Wisconsin team tied the Irish in a scoreless game the second week.
So the Notre Dame Coaches got the idea of watching this ever-dangerous Nebraska team.
This was young Notre Dame team as the offense had a legend in the making from George Gipp was in the lineup. He was a freshman and starting for the Irish.
The game was scoreless in the 1st quarter as each team encountered problems as they neared the goal lines. But Fullback Hugo Otoupalik scored on a short goal line plunge and after the kick the Huskers were up 7 - 0.
Notre Dame could only muster one drive past the Huskers defense towards the end of the game but Otoupalik intercepted the ball at the Huskers eight yard line.
The following week the Huskers traveled to Ann Arbor Michigan to face the Wolverines. Nebraska lost two key players to the war effort and Michigan won 20 - 0.
This was Nebraska’s 1st loss of the season and the players wanted to make up for it the next week when they faced the Missouri Tigers in Lincoln.
Losing the week before did spark something in the Offense as they smacked the Tigers for 52 points. This was Homecoming for the Huskers and they wanted to show the fans what they had. In the first quarter John Cook bust loose for a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown. Not to be outdone, Elmer Schellenberg broke through the porous Tiger defense for a 52-yard run followed by a 16-yard touchdown run by Harold McMahon.
The whole second half the Huskers played 2nd and 3rd string, but the Missouri defense and offense was not effective against the Huskers and did not threaten the entire game.
Next Nebraska had to travel to Lawrence, Kansas the next week (week six). The Jayhawks got on the board first with a field goal in the first quarter. Both teams exchanged the ball several times and KU went into Half time up 3 - 0.
Midway through the 3rd quarter John Cook broke through the line for a 35-yard touchdown. It was followed the next series by a long drive. As per the Sunday Morning Missourian, the Kansas running backs could not dash through for good yardage so they tried the aerial tactics that had stood them throughout the season. The Nebraskans were prepared to meet this however, and not one of the nine passes were completed.
After winning this game the Huskers clinched the Missouri Valley Conference title, making it the eighth year in a row that the Huskers had won or tied for the title. This would also be the last year for the Huskers in the MVC as they went as an Independent school.
The last game of the season was another Home game. This time it was against the Orangemen of Syracuse. Then came was hard fought and the Huskers used a “drop” kick to go ahead 3 - 0 at Half time.
The first drive of the 2nd half Syracuse drove down the field and scored. After the kick the score was 7 - 3 in favor of the Orangemen.
The ball exchanged hands several times before Syracuse kicked a field goal to end the 3rd quarter 10 - 3.
The Huskers fought hard in the 4th quarter and TE Roscoe Rhodes found the end zone just as time ran out. The Point After kick went wide and the Huskers lost 10 - 9.
This would be the last winning season for several seasons for the Huskers as they lost several more starting players to the War. But that is another story.