LINCOLN — Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne’s first words to reporters Saturday about summed it up.
“We’re pleased to win,” Osborne said. “We had a hard time stopping them.”
Stopping them seemed like Mission Impossible for both Nebraska and Iowa State at times Saturday as 76,326 spectators at Memorial Stadium watched the two offenses combined for 1,170 yards and 101 points.
The pleasing part for Osborne and his top-ranked Cornhuskers was that most of those points were Nebraska’s. And, with the 72-29 victory, the Huskers took a big step in the direction of a third straight Big Eight Conference championship and a third straight Orange Bowl trip.
Missouri helped out in that regard with a 10-0 victory over Oklahoma, leaving Nebraska alone atop the Big Eight Conference standings with a 5-0 record.
The Huskers can clinch a tie for the Big Eight championship next Saturday by beating Kansas in their final home game. Osborne said a win against the Jayhawks might also clinch another Orange Bowl trip.
“I’d think we’d have an awfully good chance at being selected as the Orange Bowl representative no matter what happened at Oklahoma,” Osborne said. “That would be nice, but I don’t think the players particularly would want to settle for that.”
Nebraska closes the season Nov. 26 at Oklahoma. Before then, Osborne would like to see some improvement from the defense. He would like to see it next week when Kansas quarterback Frank Seurer takes aim at the Cornhuskers.
“I guess we’re still plugging,” Osborne said. “We’ve got to try to improve in some areas. Right now, I don’t know what the answer is.”
Osborne referred to the Cornhusker defense, which gave up 503 yards and 29 points, both season highs.
“I wish we could shut people down better,” Osborne said.
It would help, but it’s not necessarily a problem if your offense can gain 667 yards and score 11 of the 15 times it has the ball, as Nebraska’s did against Iowa State.
The Cornhuskers’ 72 points were the most ever scored against an Iowa State team, the most Nebraska has ever scored against a Big Eight opponent, and the most ever in Memorial Stadium.
“I guess you win and lose as a team,” Osborne said. “If we can score more than they can, then I’m happy. And we did.”
For sure. I-back Mike Rozier pitched in 212 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 26 carries, not bad additions to his Heisman Trophy credentials or his status as the nation’s leading rusher and scorer.
“Mike Rozier obviously just played great,” Osborne said. “He’s a great football player.”
School records fell all afternoon for both teams, and Rozier got two big ones.
His four touchdowns increased his career total to 47 and his career scoring total to 282 points, breaking the previous records of 45 touchdowns and 270 points set by Johnny Rodgers from 1970 to 1972.
“I’m pretty proud about breaking his records,” Rozier said. “He’s a legend around here.”
Rozier’s touchdowns came on runs of 5, 21, 59 and 17 yards. He now has 24 rushing touchdowns this season, breaking the school record of 20 set by Bobby Reynolds in 1950. Rozier needs just three more to break the national record of 26 set by Penn State’s Lydell Mitchell in 1971.
Rozier’s 212 yards boosted his career total to 4,290 yards and into the No. 14 position on the all-time NCAA chart. He’s 292 shy of the Big Eight career mark of 4,582 by Terry Miller of Oklahoma State.
He also is closing in on his own school single-season record. With 1,658 yards, he needs just 32 more to break the mark of 1,689 he set last year.
On most days, Rozier’s performance would have stolen all of the attention, but not this one.
Quarterbacks Turner Gill of Nebraska and Dave Archer of Iowa State grabbed their share.
Gill passed for a career-high 241 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 52 yards and one touchdown.
“Turner Gill had an outstanding day,” Osborne said.
He pointed to the job Gill did in calling audibles and helping the Huskers overcome some early problems with the Iowa State defense. Nebraska, the nation’s top-rushing team, actually gained more yards passing than running in the first half, 185 to 133.
“They really stopped out running game about as well as anybody in the first half,” Osborne said. “Our ability to throw was good. They played a lot of eight-man fronts. Turner did a good job of throwing for the most part. He audibled well.”
Osborne also praised the work of Iowa State’s Archer, who set single-game Cyclone records with 378 yards passing. Archer completed 26 of 46 attempts.
“I thought Archer played awfully well,” Osborne said. “You’ve got to have some admiration for him.”
Osborne said the Huskers used four or five different types of blitzes and several coverages in the secondary in an attempt to stop Archer.
“We tried everything,” Osborne said. “He still seemed to pick us.”
Archer, with 2,185 yards passing this season, is closing in on the Big Eight record of 2,476 held by Kansas State’s Lynn Dickey.
Flanker Tracy Henderson and fullback Jason Jacobs served as Archer’s main targets. Jacobs caught 11 passes for 152 yards, including a 52-yarder, and Henderson caught 10 for 136.
Henderson’s catches helped him to school single-season records for receptions and yardage. He raised his totals to 63 catches for 869 yards. Henderson’s 63 catches broke the Big Eight record of 60 set by Oklahoma’s Eddie Hinton in 1968.
“I felt we could have taken the ball down the field on them any time we wanted, and we did,” Henderson said.
Nebraska’s offense surely had the same feeling, only more so, after it figured out the Cyclone defense.
The Cornhuskers failed to score on the first two possessions of the game. Osborne said the Cyclones came out in a defense that Nebraska didn’t work on much. The Huskers adjusted quickly.
"It took about seven or eight minutes and we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do,” Osborne said.
It didn’t hurt any that Iowa State obliged with some generous field position.
Tommy Davis, the Cyclones’ leading rusher with 88 yards on 25 carries, fumbled, and the Husker safety Bret Clark recovered at the Iowa State 39.
Six plays later, Nebraska scored again, thanks to another Iowa State fumble.
Kickoff returner Richard Hanson lost it, and Nebraska’s Scott Strasburger recovered it at the Cyclone 27. On the next play, Gill threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Todd Frain.
Strasburger, a junior defensive end, is becoming proficient at fumble recoveries with four in the last three games. He said it’s not magic.
“I just run around and see the balls falling in front of me,” he said. “All I have to do is fall on them.”
The turnovers, an Iowa State problem this season, haunted the Cyclones again. They finished with three in the game. Nebraska didn’t have any.
The fumble recoveries helped the Huskers get started, but the game stayed close with two teams exchanging touchdowns to start the second quarter.
Archer threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Davis, making it 14-7. Gill retaliated with a 20-yarder to Fryar. Davis struck back with his second touchdown, a 1-yard run with 7:56 left in the half, cutting Nebraska’s lead to 21-14.
Then the Huskers made a big move with two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half — a 3-yard keepers by Gill and an 18-yard pass from Gill to split end Scott Kimball with five seconds left.
The Huskers got the ball with 56 seconds left. Gill drove them 68 yards in eight plays, six of them passes and four completions.
“If Turner could throw the ball 30 to 40 times a game, he’d pick apart any defense,” Strasburger said. “He has a tremendous arm, and his mobility today amazed me. I don’t think there’s anybody in the country as mobile as Turner m and his arm speaks for itself.”
Halftime defensive adjustments failed to slow either offense. Iowa State drove 74 yards to a 1-yard touchdown by Omahan Al Watson on its first possession of the second half.
Nebraska responded with an 82-yard drive to Rozier’s 21-yard touchdown.
The Huskers forced Iowa State to punt on its next two possessions. “We stopped them a few times,” Osborne said.
Those times sealed the Cyclones fate because the Huskers continued their scoring parade.
In addition to Rozier’s three touchdowns in the second half, Nebraska scored on Scott Livingston’s 31-yard field goal, a 1-yard run by quarterback Craig Sundberg and a 1-yard run by Jeff Smith.
All the points and all the passes made it a long day. It didn’t seem as long to the Nebraska defense as you might expect.
“We just look at it as one more step on the way to the Big Eight Championship,” Strasburger said. “And, the most important thing is we came out on top.”
|Yards per carry||3.5||6.7|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|Penn State||Aug. 29|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 8|
|Kansas State||Oct. 29|
|Iowa State||Nov. 5|
|Miami (FL)||Jan. 2|
Nebraska has played 21 games on Nov. 5. See them all »
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