But now he was out in real life, pulling off this fantastic feat. Harmon had said he was nervous and jittery before the game, but he sure didn't look it. He looked poised and up to the occasion. He moved UCLA in for a field goal in the first quarter after the Bruins recovered a Nebraska fumble on the Cornhusker 35. And moments later, when Devaney's team committed another boner, it was Harmon's arm that sent the throngs roaring as they had not roared for the Bruins since Gary Beban was around.
On the first play after another fumble recovery at the Nebraska 46, Harmon faked a handoff, stepped back calmly, hiding the football, and searched downfield. He found Brad Lyman, his split end, racing toward the goalposts along with the fine Cornhusker cornerback, Joe Blahak. Harmon hit Lyman right in stride and UCLA had a 10-0 lead. At this point Tom Harmon, who ran for most of his touchdowns at Michigan, was trying to appear nonchalant and doing a fair job of it.
"That helps," he said. "That takes some pressure off of him."
And finally Mark would do it again, there at the last with the pressure back on. After his dramatic pass to Lassner, Harmon coolly watched the seconds click away as he ordered a couple of keepers for himself and one for another guy. Then he placed the ball down near his 20 and let Herrera send Nebraska back to the ranks of the ordinary teams. And then he got up and jumped 20 feet in the air.
"Amazing," Mark said later. "Just amazing. But we really had confidence. Our defense did it. They got us the ball. My dad had told me to stay calm and just play my game and that's all I tried to do. On the pass to Lassner, he was my primary and I just had time to throw it. I could see Glover getting free and coming at me."
Actually, Nebraska had been looking pretty ordinary for a team that had not lost in 32 games. It would take a CPA to list the Cornhusker mistakes, but three fumbles and two interceptions—five turnovers—were enough. Two familiar old Nebraska heroes, Johnny Rodgers and Rich Glover, certainly did their parts to prevent the loss. Rodgers returned a punt 50 yards to set up a field goal. And it was Rodgers who did his usual squirming, leaping, flitting thing to score the touchdown that tied it 10-10.
But Nebraska didn't get the ball to Rodgers often enough after that. One reason was Nebraska didn't have the ball often enough, because of the turnovers. And one reason for the turnovers was the other quarterback making his debut.
That was David Humm, the left-hander about whom Nebraskans had been raving while Jerry Tagge was quarter-backing Bob Devaney's team to two national championships. Humm probably will do all right later this season, but on Saturday night he threw two interceptions and his ball handling was far from superb. In other words, he wasn't Mark Harmon.
Another thing Nebraska obviously lacked, something UCLA had, was a good inside-outside runner. UCLA had Jim McAlister, who was finally making his debut, and indications are that he just might become the neatest thing the West Coast has seen since O.J. Simpson was cavorting on the other side of town. McAlister went 35 yards the first time he touched the football and 90 yards in all, almost breaking clear a couple of times. With his excellent speed and strong balance, UCLA's future opponents will have to worry considerably over what havoc McAlister and Harmon may wreak when they learn even more about how to operate the Wishbone.
As Bob Devaney said, "We didn't play well enough to win, obviously. We knew the winning streak had to end sometime. If there's any consolation in it, we can say that we didn't lose to a team without football players. They sure have some."