LINCOLN — The best analysis of Nebraska's first-half play in Saturday's 77-14 football win over Iowa State came from a basketball coach.
"I don't know if we've ever scored 63 points in a half," Danny Nee joked at halftime.
The Nebraska basketball coach was among those in the 220th consecutive sellout crowd of 75,613 at Memorial Stadium awed by the third-ranked Huskers' scoring explosion in the opening 30 minutes. Nebraska scored on all eight of its first-half possessions and threw in a 53-yard punt return by true freshman Bobby Newcombe to take a 63-7 lead.
Before it was over, Nebraska had wrapped up a trip to the Dec. 6 Big 12 Conference championship game by:
Setting a school record for points in a league game, surpassing the 73 scored against Iowa State in 1995 and against Oklahoma in 1996. The Huskers also tied school records for points in the first quarter (35), points in the first half (63) and rushing touchdowns in the game (nine).
Having I-back Ahman Green extend his mastery over the Iowa State defense. The junior from Omaha Central gained 209 yards on 15 carries, three of which produced touchdowns. Green has now gained 599 yards against the Cyclones, the most by a Nebraska back in three games against one opponent.
Winning for the 42nd straight time at Memorial Stadium, which ties Texas for the fifth-longest all-time home winning streak, and for the 38th consecutive time in a regular-season conference game. The win capped the Huskers' sixth straight unbeaten season at home and their 13th in Coach Tom Osborne's 25 seasons.
Improving to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the conference under less than ideal conditions. A game-time temperature of 26 degrees and northwest winds of 21 mph made for a wind chill factor of minus 2.
Providing a perfect ending for the 23 seniors who played their final home game.
"It was tough trying to choke everything back," Nebraska rush end Grant Wistrom said. "I tried to take everything in - one last tunnel walk, one last time hearing the roar of the Memorial Stadium crowd. There are some things that are going to be tough to let go of.
"No matter where I go and where I end up, this place is always going to be home for me. We've won a lot of football games here, and if I had it all to do over again, I wouldn't wear any other color but the red and white."
Saturday's blowout kept the postgame mood far from melancholy. Unlike a week ago, when Missouri took Nebraska to the final second before losing 45-38 in overtime, the Huskers had Iowa State all but finished before the game was five minutes old.
The Huskers needed just five offensive plays and Newcombe's punt return to build a 21-0 lead with 10:09 left in the first quarter.
"That's the quickest that we've scored points since I've been around here," Husker quarterback Scott Frost said. "It was 21-0, and I think I had run five plays. We wanted to come out and have a great game after last week. We jumped on them early and didn't let up."
When Green got his third touchdown just 71/2 minutes into the game, the Huskers were on pace to score 224 points. Newcombe gave Nebraska a 35-7 first-quarter lead with his second touchdown, a 16-yard run on a wingback reverse with 2:55 left.
The Huskers scored four more times in the second quarter, with Frost passing for one touchdown and running for two more. Frost's second touchdown run, which came with five seconds left in the half, underscored just how well things went for the Huskers in the first 30 minutes.
"You get to a point where you don't want to score," Osborne said. "Right before the half, I didn't want to kneel down. I didn't want them to stay in the huddle. I didn't know what to do.
"So I called a quarterback sneak from the 2-yard line, and I never thought we'd get 2 yards on that. But Iowa State didn't get lined up, and we sneak it in. We weren't trying to run the score up."
Osborne used his first-unit offense and defense for the first two series of the second half, then turned the game over to the reserves. Fifteen players carried the ball for Nebraska and six receivers caught passes. In all, Nebraska used 105 players.
When asked if he thought Nebraska might have piled on the points, Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney replied, "Absolutely not. We were ineffective on both sides of the ball in the first half. When people are putting up that many points and we're that ineffective, then it's our fault - not theirs."
"We shouldn't have to apologize for being a great football team," he said. "When we have our third-string quarterback, our second- and third-string offensive lines, our fourth- string I-back in there and we're still moving the ball, there's nothing to feel bad about."
Nebraska's parade of offensive players produced 594 total yards, 473 on the ground. The Huskers averaged 7.9 yards per play as they exceeded their nation-leading averages in rushing offense (394.8), total offense (510.2) and scoring offense (45.2). **The Huskers averaged 7.9 yards per play, with Green finishing with a 13.9-yard rushing average on his 15 carries. Frost, who gained 88 yards, averaged 11.0 yards, while Newcombe's two carries produced an average gain of 15.5 yards.
**Meanwhile, Iowa State had only marginal success against a Nebraska defense that was still seething over allowing 38 points to Missouri. The Cyclones finished with 75 yards rushing and 153 passing for a 228 total, an average of 3.2 per play. Iowa State lost three fumbles and saw two passes intercepted, and quarterback Todd Bandhauer was sacked three times.
In 15 plays, Green came within 20 yards of bettering the total Iowa State accumulated in 72. The Cyclones (1-9) were held to 75 yards rushing and 153 yards passing, had five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions) and allowed three sacks.
"We stayed pretty basic today," Nebraska Defensive Coordinator Charlie McBride said. "We didn't blitz as much as I would have liked to. After last week, we wanted to get our secondary settled in.
"We're going to be facing another quarterback in two weeks who can throw the ball down the field. Overall, we accomplished what we wanted to this week."
Nebraska, which closes the regular season Nov. 28 at Colorado, surrendered 233 yards passing in the previous game to the Big 12's second-ranked passer, Missouri quarterback Corby Jones. Facing the league leader Saturday, Nebraska harassed Iowa State's Todd Bandhauer into an 11-for-36 day.
The junior missed his first seven passes against Nebraska. By the time Bandhauer completed one, Nebraska owned a 28-0 lead.
Green's 18-yard scoring run capped Nebraska's opening four-play, 51-yard drive. Newcombe made it 14-0 with his 53-yard punt return, the Huskers' first for a touchdown this season.
"When that ball came down," Newcombe said, "all I saw in front of me was green and a bunch of red jerseys."
Green made it 21-0 the next time Nebraska touched the ball, ripping through the Iowa State defense on a 49-yard touchdown run. He scored on a 4-yard run on the Huskers' next possession, which lasted five plays and covered 32 yards.
Bandhauer countered by driving Iowa State 45 yards for its first score, which came on a 35-yard pass to Tyrone Watley. Four of Nebraska's next five possessions ended with touchdown runs - of 16 yards by Newcombe, of 9 yards by fullback Joel Makovicka, and of 1 and 2 yards by Frost.
The Husker quarterback also threw a 5-yard scoring pass to tight end Sheldon Jackson one play after rush end Chad Kelsay recovered a Bandhauer fumble.
"I've already heard from everybody that I'm too slow, and I should have scored," Kelsay said. "I was just in the right place at the right time."
Bidding to become just the 11th quarterback in NCAA Division I-A history to run and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season, Frost finished with 88 yards rushing and 111 yards passing. The senior completed 8 of his 9 passes against the Cyclones and averaged 11.0 yards per rushing attempt. For the season, Frost has 940 rushing yards and 944 passing yards.
"The line played great, the backs played great and everyone did his job," Frost said. "That's what we need to do to show people that we belong with the elite teams in college football."
But with Michigan and Florida State winning Saturday, how much weight will Nebraska's lopsided win carry with voters in the national polls? The 63-point victory came over an Iowa State team that was a 42-point underdog.
"I'm sure a lot of people expected us to beat Iowa State like this," said Green, who topped the 100-yard mark for the ninth straight game and came within 5 yards of matching his career-high rushing total. "But by dominating them so much, I think we showed the pollsters that we're still up there fighting for the No. 1 spot."
The polls were the last thing on Osborne's mind at halftime. Ahead by 56 points, he admitted wrestling with the question of how much longer to play his starters.
"We had our first unit in there a little more than a half," Osborne said. "In a way, you would rather have them play longer because we have such a long layoff. But at that point, we didn't want to get Scott Frost or Grant Wistrom or Jason Peter or some of those guys hurt when we're already ahead by 60-some points."
The reserves started flowing in midway through the third quarter, with backup quarterback Frankie London and No. 4 fullback Josh Cobb getting the Huskers' final two touchdowns.
|Yards per carry||2.2||7.5|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|Central Florida||Sept. 13|
|Kansas State||Oct. 4|
|Texas Tech||Oct. 18|
|Iowa State||Nov. 15|
|Texas A&M||Dec. 6|
Nebraska has played 16 games on Nov. 15. See them all »
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