A few minutes later Oklahoma's Lucious Selmon recovered a Nebraska fumble at the Husker 27. Rick Fulcher made the most of the opportunity with a game-winning 41-yard field goal.
And Rodgers? Well, he ran twice more in the second half and he caught one more pass, and that was all. Of Oklahoma's nine punts, he tried to turn on his dazzling magic but once, and Oklahoma turned that off after only seven yards. But still, he had his moment, even if it didn't count. With the score 7-0 and the ball at the Oklahoma 43, Rodgers went streaking down the sideline, took a Humm pass at the 12 and slipped past a defender for an apparent score.
Not so, ruled Referee Vance Carlson. He pointed at a spot near the 39-yard line and said that was where Rodgers had stepped out on his way down the field to catch the pass.
"I stepped out," said Rodgers, "but that guy [and he pointed a finger at the grinning Pope] pushed me. I thought if I was pushed out, I could come back in."
"When you're out," said Carlson, "you're out."
"Too bad, Johnny," said Pope, still grinning. "That was a very nice catch."
Later Pope admitted he had worked on Rodgers almost as much verbally as he had physically. "But nothing mean," he said. "Just things like, 'Nice block, Johnny' or 'Aw, Johnny, I thought you could block better than that.' But I don't know if it worked. He would just grin when I'd say something and go away. But I'll tell what did work. We really stuck it to him out there every chance we got. Stick and stick. Dan Ruster really stuck it to him once. He went up, and when he came down I thought he had broken his back. [ Rodgers in fact did play the entire second half with two cracked ribs.] After a while he began hearing footsteps. He dropped one pass that was right into his hands, and I was still five yards away from him. I wonder if Greg will let me hold the Heisman Trophy sometimes?"
Rodgers was not even mildly upset by Pope's observations. "I don't hear footsteps," he said quietly. "The only thing wrong today was that Humm wasn't getting the ball to me on time. I don't think I was given the chance to do anything, so I don't see how that No. 28 could think he did so well against me."
"What about the Heisman now?" he was asked. Rodgers' eyes went blank behind his shades. "I know darn well they aren't going to give it to anybody because he is a better football player than I am. They may not give me the trophy, but Johnny Rodgers will always know he won it."