Seeing their first bowl action in 10 years, the Blue Devils, champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference, represented the league in the Orange Bowl and came away with an impressive 34-7 win over Nebraska.
It was Duke’s rushing game that proved too tough for the Cornhuskers as the Blue Devils tallied 288 yards to Nebraska’s 84. Duke gained 370 total yards to the slim 110-yard attack that Nebraska mounted.
After a scoreless first quarter, Duke unleashed a relentless offensive attack. On the first possession of the second quarter, captain Jerry Barger directed Duke 65 yards to its first score. The senior quarterback hit end Sonny Sorrell with a 22-yard pass for the biggest gainer of the drive. Left halfback Bob Pascal had an 11-yard run in the series and climaxed the march with a seven-yard jaunt around the end untouched. Jim Nelson’s extra point made it 7-0 with 11 minutes to play in the first half.
Later in the quarter, Nebraska’s number two quarterback, Don Erway, tried to pass from his own 20-yard line. Duke fullback Bryant Aldridge intercepted downfield and returned the ball to the 21, and three plays later the Blue Devils were on top 14-0. Jerry Kocourek scored on a pefect two-yard pass from Barger just 28 seconds before halftime.
“That intercepted pass gave us that second touchdown and put us on the ice,” said head coach Bill Murray. “Nebraska had a good, tough team. But we got the big break. Nebraska gave us the big chance with that pass and we took advantage of it.”
After Nebraska made it 14-7 in the third quarter, Duke took the next kickoff and drove 65 yards in eight plays to go up 20-7. On their next possession, following a Nick McKeithan interception and 25-yard return, the Blue Devils went 11 yards and made it 27-7, getting the touchdown on the first play of the fourth period. The very next time they got their hands on the ball, they went 51 yards in ten plays to close out the scoring for the 34-7 margin.
Sorrell hauled in a 17-yard scoring strike from Barger to get that third touchdown, following a nice 29-yard run by Pascal. McKeithan got the fourth score on a one-yard buck through the line then Sam Ebert ended the 51-yard drive with a three-yard run for the fifth and final score.
Many of the record 68,750 spectators started leaving the stands when Duke made it 27-7. That was of little concern to Murray, however, as he completely cleared his bench and allowed all 36 players who dressed for the game to play in it.
“I knew we’d have to play our best to stand a chance of beating Duke,” said Nebraska head coach Bill Glasford. “But we came up with a stinking performance and got spanked. That Duke line outcharged us. Those linemen were on top of our ball carriers before they got started.”