|New Mexico State||0||0||0||0||0|
LINCOLN — New Mexico State was hit full force Saturday by a runaway train. Call it the Red Streak.
“I felt a little bad about things toward the end,” said Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne. “I didn’t know quite how to do it to get things shut down.”
The Cornhuskers did have trouble applying their brakes as they zipped to a 68-0 victory and four NCAA records on a bright and sunny day at Memorial Stadium. The Aggies were struck by train No. 883 - that’s how many yards the Cornhuskers gained in setting the NCAA’s total offense record.
I-backs Mike Rozier and Jeff Smith produced the biggest chunks. Rozier had 149 yards on 14 carries. He gained 62 yards on the Huskers’ first offensive play from scrimmage, but didn’t score.
Smith, who ran 80 yards for a touchdown on his first carry last week against Iowa, almost duplicated that play with a 68-yard touchdown on Nebraska’s first play of the second half. Smith finished with 126 yards on seven carries.
Cornhusker fans can now hope the Red Streak continues down the track to University Park, Pa., where unbeaten and eighth-ranked Penn State awaits as next Saturday’s opponent.
“We’ll find out a lot about ourselves the next two or three weeks,” Osborne said. “We’ll play some great football teams in Penn State and Auburn. Colorado might be pretty good, too.”
The third-ranked Cornhuskers won’t return home again until Oct. 16, against Kansas State. They gave their backers in Saturday’s crowd of 76,141 a record-shattering goodbye.
Nebraska’s 883-yard performance broke the previous mark of 875 set last year by Oklahoma against Colorado. Tim Brungardt, who scored two touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 65 yards, carried the ball for Nebraska on a 4-yard gain when the record fell four plays from the final gun.
The Huskers also set NCAA records for most yards rushing without a loss, 677; most first downs, 43; and most first downs rushing, 36.
The only glum note for Nebraska, 2-0, was an injury to back Roger Craig midway through the first quarter. Craig had rushed for 49 yards on six carries when he left the game with a deep thigh bruise.
Osborne said Craig might not be able to play against Penn State. But Craig, who needed 83 yards Saturday to go over 2,000 for his career, said he’d play.
“I’ll be ready regardless,” Craig said. “There’s no way I’ll sit this one out.”
Nebraska bettered its own NCAA first-down record of 42, set last year against Colorado. Texas-El Paso had held the record for most yards rushing without a loss since 1948. It was 645, also set against New Mexico State.
Nebraska’s rushing total of 677 yards broke the school record of 550 set against Kansas in 1977.
“We’ve got a good football team,” Osborne said. “We’re a little thin at spots, but we’ve got good skill players. That’s what puts numbers on the board.”
Nebraska also broke two Memorial Stadium records. The winning margin of 68 points broke the record of 62 against Missouri in 1972, and the total of 68 was also the most points by any team, bettering the record of 65 against Oklahoma State in 1970.
Colorado had the previous record for first downs rushing with 35 in 1978.
Osborne talked about the records with some concern.
“I just hope people don’t think we were trying to run them up,” Osborne said. “I threw the ball some in the second half because I wanted to look at Bruce Mathison and Craig Sundberg.”
Mathison, a senior, was the third quarterback used by Osborne. His only completion was a 61-yard touchdown to Ricky Simmons that pushed the NU lead to 61-0. The score came with 2:18 still remaining in the third quarter.
“Bruce really needed some playing time,” Osborne said. “he’s a pro prospect. I want pro scouts to look at some film and see this guy throwing the football.”
The run overshadowed the pass as a Nebraska weapon against the Aggies, but the Cornhuskers threw for 206 yards, their most since the 223 last year against Kansas State.
Quarterback Turner Gill completed 10 of 13 passes for 93 yards and a 19-yard touchdown to Todd Brown. Nate Mason, Gill’s backup, also threw for a touchdown - a 9-yarder to third-team wingback Jim Thompson in the third quarter.
Nebraska’s 883 total yards compared to New Mexico State’s 182. The Husker defense held the Aggies to 93 rushing and 89 passing. “I thought the defense played pretty well again,” Osborne said.
New Mexico State averaged 3.6 yards per offensive play to 8.5 for Nebraska.
“I don’t think we can make 800 yards every week,” Osborne said. “We may have trouble making 250 some weeks.”
By halftime, Nebraska had a 28-0 lead, 329 yards rushing and 93 passing. Gill and Rozier didn’t return in the second half as the Cornhuskers coaches used every available player.
Osborne said 86 were in uniform. “They all supposedly played with the exception of Tom Rathman, who we’re trying to redshirt,” Osborne said. Rathman is a sophomore fullback.
New Mexico State had some warning it could be buried by a Nebraska offensive avalanche. The Aggies lost 57-0 the last time they visited Lincoln, in 1979. That loss had been New Mexico State’s worst since a 76-0 setback to Utah State in 1974.
New Mexico State Coach Gil Krueger said last week that the Aggies would be better this time.
“What they should have done is not say anything about having a better team,” said Charlie Mcbride, NU’s defensive coordinator. “That got our players fired up. It motivated them a little bit.”
McBride said the lopsided score shouldn’t be considered a discredit to the Aggies.
“We might be better than we were the last time we played them,” McBride said.
Krueger said the Huskers are better than the 1979 club.
“Our kids said they had never played anyone like this Nebraska,” Krueger said. “I think Nebraska would be the No. 1 team in the country.”
McBride said the Husker offense might be better than 1979, but he wasn’t sure yet about the defense. He praised the offense’s work in the first half against the Aggies.
“You’ve got to give the offense credit for the four series they had in a row,” McBride said. “They had the ball once on the 1 and just sucked up the whole thing. “
Nebraska scored on its first four possessions of the first half, and threatened on the fifth. Mason threw incomplete from the Aggie 8 on the final play of the half.
In the first half, Nebraska drove 81, 97, 86 and 99 yards. Then, the Huskers bettered their first-half production by scoring five touchdowns in a 33-point third quarter.
Smith got the half off to an explosive start with his 68-yard touchdown. The sophomore from Wichita, Kan., has now gained 213 yards on nine carries this season - an average of 23.7 per carry.
“He doesn’t have the punch of Craig or Rozier, but he’s really a great instinctive runner,” Osborne said. “He sees things awfully well. He’s got great awareness of where he is. He’s really made great progress as a back.”
Nebraska scored on 10 of its 13 possessions. Osborne said the best thing through the first six or seven drives was not being stopped by penalties or turnovers.
The Huskers didn’t have a turnover in the game, despite handling the ball for 104 offensive snaps.
The Huskers were penalized 13 times for 103 yards. “Some of them came when we had players from the scout team level, and they were a little anxious,” Osborne said.
The Cornhusker coaches thought conditions were ripe for a mental letdown with the Penn State game next week.
“Our hopes were that we wouldn’t go into the tank, and we didn’t,” McBride said.
>> Nebraska gains 883 total yards, a then-ncaa record.
>> Mike Rozier led the way with 149 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
>> Jeff Smith ran for 126 yards and a touchdown.
>> Huskers also set NCAA records for most yards rushing without a loss, 677; most first downs, 43, and most first downs rushing, 36.
>> Nebraska gained 677 yards on the ground.
|Yards per carry||3.4||8.7|
Nebraska is 3-0 all-time against New Mexico State.
|New Mexico State||Sept. 18|
|Penn State||Sept. 25|
|Kansas State||Oct. 16|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 6|
|Iowa State||Nov. 13|
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