MANHATTAN, Kan. — Nebraska was just getting ready to crank up its offense Saturday when a big brown dog made an appearance on the field to delay things.
Willie the Wildcat, Kansas State’s mascot, gave chase to frighten the poor dog away.
Willie’s quick action was one of the few scares thrown at anybody by a person wearing a KSU uniform on this day.
The rest of the afternoon Nebraska was doing the chasing and Kansas State was doing the retreating with the Cornhuskers eventually completing a 49-3 whipping of the Wildcats.
The win produced before an estimated 18,000 Nebraska fans in a KSU stadium crowd of 44,915 — second largest ever — left the Huskers alone on top of the Big Eight Conference standings after just two weeks of play.
The Huskers are 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big Eight with a date coming up Saturday at Missouri. The eighth-rated Tigers were knocked off by Iowa State 34-13 and Oklahoma State, also 1-0 entering Saturday, fell 11-10 to Colorado.
Nebraska followed the dog and Willie act, which took place right before the Huskers started their first possession, with an offensive explosion that produced 674 total yards, a season passing best of 223 yards and the excitement of a 93-yard touchdown by I-back Mike Rozier.
“The offense put this one away,” said Charlie McBride, Nebraska defensive line coach. “That’s where the credit should go the way they were mashing people.”
Nebraska’s passing yardage was the best since the Huskers threw for 232 yards against Penn State in the second game of 1979. Most noteworthy was the Husker accuracy. The quarterback trio of Turner Gill, Mark Mauer and Bruce Mathison, completed 13 of their 19 attempts.
Gill was 10 of 14, including a string of seven straight after overthrowing his first of the game. Gill’s 141 yards of passing included touchdowns of 23 and 13 yards to Jamie Williams in the first quarter.
Gill, who has now thrown six scoring passes in his first two starts, had another potential touchdown pass dropped by Mark Moravec near the goal line in the third quarter.
Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said his plan was to throw against the Wildcats as a means to loosen up a defense that stacks most of its defenders near the line of scrimmage.
“When teams play so many people up on the line like they do, you are going to pass more,” he said.
Mauer relieved Gill in the third quarter and continued the display of accuracy. Mauer completed all three of his throws. The biggest was a 49-yard touchdown to Irving Fryar that hiked the Husker lead to 35-3 with 14:22 left in the game.
Osborne said Gill performed well again, particularly in the way he adjusted to a Kansas State defense that did its best to confuse the sophomore.
“Kansas State jumped around a lot. They lined up about every way imaginable, it seemed to me,” said Osborne.
Gill had a big day in last week’s 59-0 win over Colorado, but the Buffaloes stayed in the same defense most of the game.
“It was a harder day to play quarterback than it was last week,” said Osborne. “He (Gill) maintained his composure and audibled a little more. I thought he did a good job.”
Gill’s most timely audible was switching from a 36 trap to a 41 pitch when the Huskers took over at their own seven early in the second quarter. Rozier turned the play into a 93-yard touchdown.
“They (K-State’s defense) overloaded to the side the play was called on,” said Gill. “I called a pitch play away from it.”
Rozier has been waiting for his first 100-yard day as a Husker. He almost got it all on one play. Rozier finished with 153 yards on 19 carries.
Rozier took the pitch from Gill, broke behind a block from fullback Phil Bates and was almost immediately into clear sailing.
Osborne said Rozier “showed good speed. He broke through and one or two guys had a little angle on him. He’s a great back.” Rozier won a race with K-State defender Greg Best. Husker Todd Brown also made the trip down the field as an unnecessary escort.
“Phil took his man out and I had to duck under. That’s the way we run that play. Where Phil takes his man I go the opposite way,” said Rozier. “All I saw was daylight and all I was thinking was touchdown.”
The Nebraska running game produced 451 yards. Gill was the second-leading rusher with 72 yards on 14 carries. Roger Craig, the team leader for the season, had 59 on 13 attempts.
“They always have awesome offensive and defensive lines and their backs look like Oklahoma backs,” said Kansas State Coach Jim Dickey. “I didn’t used to think they had great backs, but those guys can run.”
Nebraska scored the first two times it had the ball on Gill’s passes to Williams.
The junior tight end from Davenport, Iowa, had his big day cut short when he left the game for good with 1:32 remaining in the first half suffering from a strained knee.
“I saw a knife,” said Williams, referring to his initial fear that the injury might require surgery.
“I couldn’t believe it. I’m glad it wasn’t really that bad.”
However, Williams’ availability is a concern. “Jamie being out would be a big loss,” said Osborne.
Other concerns are a shoulder bruise that kept Bates out of the second half and a knee bruise that slowed Craig.
All three said they planned to be ready for the Tigers. “No way are we going to let little bruises hold us back for Missouri,” said Craig.
The Husker I-back enjoyed watching his former high school teammate score the touchdowns that gave Nebraska its 14-0 first-quarter lead. He predicted future big days for Williams. “He’s just warming up,” said Craig.
Another two touchdown performer was Fryar. He caught the 49-yard pass from Mauer and added a 9-yard scoring run.
The two fourth-quarter scores increased the Nebraska lead to 42-3 and Mathison completed scoring with a 1-yard sneak with 4:15 left in the game.
Fryar said he was motivated to have a good game by his showing against Colorado. “I had a bad game last week,” he said. “I ran the wrong pattern on one play and dropped the ball on one that could have been a score,” said Fryar.
“I can’t have any more of those games. Last week was the first time I played a lot and I botched up. I didn’t think I’d get to play as much as I did today.”
Kansas State avoided a shutout when Steve Willis kicked a 33-yard field goal with 1:04 left in the third quarter. The Nebraska defense kept its record intact of not allowing a touchdown this season in the third quarter.
Penn State is the only other team that has scored on Nebraska in the third period this season, also with a field goal.
“We were able to hold them a lot to three and out,” said McBride. “We tried not to do anything fancy this week and beat ourselves. We set a goal that they wouldn’t score more than seven points and we reached that goal.”
Kansas State was held to 86 yards rushing and 50 passing.
“Even though we shut them out in the first half there were a few times when they knocked us off the ball a little bit,” said Osborne.
McBride said, “We were a little disappointed they ran inside on us in the first half. We made some adjustments at halftime and got that stopped.”
The Husker defense was particularly tough on third down. Kansas State converted only one of its 13 third down plays into first downs.
|Yards per carry||2.2||7.3|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
|Florida State||Sept. 19|
|Penn State||Sept. 26|
|Kansas State||Oct. 17|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 7|
|Iowa State||Nov. 14|
Nebraska has played 16 games on Oct. 17. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group