LINCOLN — Nebraska quarterback Steve Taylor sprained his ankle Saturday, but he says he’s fine.
I-back Keith Jones bruised his thigh and saw his streak of three straight 100-yard games end. But he says he’s OK, too.
Oh, and by the way, the second-ranked Huskers beat Kansas State 56-3 before a 153rd straight sellout crowd of 76,106 at Memorial Stadium.
The order of that report isn’t to make fun of the 0-7 Wildcats, who don’t have much sense of humor left after back-to-back whippings by the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country. Oklahoma dropped the ’Cats 59-10 last week.
“The only good thing that happened today,” KSU Coach Stan Parrish said, “is we’re through playing them.”
No, the idea is to ease the minds of Husker fans looking down the road to next week’s game with 4-3 Missouri and ultimately to the Nov. 21 showdown with Oklahoma.
Osborne said Taylor and Jones, who gained 41 yards in eight carries, could have returned to the game after leaving early in the second quarter.
But maybe as comforting was Nebraska’s 662 yards of total offense the best in 45 games, dating back to a 680-yard effort in the 1983 Kansas game and the return of the big play, even with those two big-play artists on the sideline.
The Huskers, 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Eight, unleashed 12 scrimmage plays of 20 yards or more six in each half. Four of the touchdowns came in big chunks on plays 49, 46, 40 and 50 yards. In all, eight players scored touchdowns.
Even when the offense sputtered, the Nebraska defense was there to help.
The Huskers, working on a streak of 10 straight scoreless quarters, got a deflected field goal from Cartier Walker to stop K-State’s first march into Nebraska territory late in the second quarter.
When NU wingback Dana Brinson fumbled the ball right back at the Huskers’ 13-yard line, the defense allowed just 1 yard in three plays before Mark Porter kicked a 29-yard field goal.
Walker said he almost got that one, too.
“I ran right past it,” said the sophomore from Atlantic City, N.J., who also has a blocked punt this season. “I can’t believe it got under me.”
The kick made the score Nebraska 28, Kansas State 3. It also made the Huskers a little mad, particularly offensive guard Andy Keeler.
“Andy came by and kind of apologized and said, ‘It was our fault, ‘ “ linebacker Steve Forch said. “But that’s all right We should have shut them out anyway.
“But we’re not disappointed. We’re playing well.”
Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne spent about as much time after the game talking about upcoming foe Missouri as Kansas State.
“I really believe they’ll be a pretty strong football team,” Osborne said. “They seem to be getting better all the time.
“I think it will be a tough game, and that’s good. I think we need a tough game right now.”
But that’s enough on Missouri for now. Let’s look at what happened against Kansas State.
Taylor stayed in the game long enough to make a good first impression. On the third play of the game and his first carry, he romped right on an option play for a 49-yard touchdown.
That allowed the junior from Fresno, Calif., to join Turner Gill as the only Huskers ever to top the 1,000-yard mark for a career rushing and passing.
“I didn’t know that,” said Taylor, who has 1,020 yards rushing and 1,509 passing. “I’m happy. Maybe some people will remember me when I’m gone.”
Several other Huskers also had memorable moments Saturday.
On the second possession, I-back Ken Clark ran 27 yards on the Bummeroosky fake punt to keep a scoring drive alive. Taylor finished it with a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Banderas, who has six touchdowns in 12 career catches.
Two series later, wingback Richard Bell raced 46 yards on a reverse for a touchdown to make it 21-0 in the first quarter.
Backup quarterback Clete Blakeman, who completed 9 of 10 passes for 165 yards, later ran 1 yard for a score.
Then as time expired in the first half, Blakeman heaved a Hail Mary pass that wingback Hendley Hawkins caught tumbling backward for a 40-yard touchdown, the first for the fifth-year senior from Los Angeles. That put the Huskers ahead 35-3.
As NU lined up for that last play of the half, Osborne said he never considered letting kicker Chris Drennan attempt a school-record 57-yard field goal with a 16-mph wind at his back.
He also said he never really thought the bomb would work with everyone expecting a pass.
“Actually, Hendley got behind the guy,” Osborne said. “The ball was a little underthrown and he just outfought the guy for it.”
Second-half rushing touchdowns of 3 yards by top fullback Micah Heibel, 10 yards by No. 3 quarterback Gerry Gdowski and 50 yards by No. 4 I-back Tyreese Knox finished the scoring as 105 of the 115 Huskers who suited up played.
“It wasn’t much of a contest,” Osborne said. “But I thought Kansas State played pretty well.
“They gave us a little trouble on defense. You wouldn’t know it from the score and the amount of yards. But they did some interesting things up front.”
The most interesting was an eight-man front that jammed some of Nebraska’s bread and butter.
“I don’t think we averaged more than 2 to 3 yards a snap on some of our basic plays the first half,” Osborne said.
Throw out Taylor’s run and Bell’s reverse and Osborne was right.
The Huskers rushing average was 2.75 yards on 32 first-half plays.
“They were gambling some, and I think that was a good move on their part,” Osborne said. “They probably figured if they sat in there and played a basic defense, they would die a slow death 6 or 7 yards at a time.”
Instead, K-State tried to bottle up Nebraska’s lightning and ended up with flash burns.
Blakeman, on his first play after replacing the injured Taylor with 11:07 left in the first half, hit Bell with a 28-yard pass to spark a TD drive. Blakeman also fired a 21-yard strike to tight end Todd Millikan two plays before his bomb to Hawkins.
In the second half, Brinson ran a reverse for 20 yards but fumbled. Heibel broke a trap play for 27 yards to set up his own 3-yard touchdown. Blakeman hit No. 4 split end Chip Bahe for 24 yards to help produce Gdowski’s first varsity touchdown.
Then on the next series, Knox capped the big-play bonanza with a 50-yard burst off left tackle.
The Huskers dug deep on offense, using seven I-backs and 17 ballcarriers overall to gain 459 rushing yards.
Defensively, Osborne used 52 players. Of K-State’s 239 total yards, 80 came in the fourth quarter against a hodgepodge of Husker freshmen and reserves.
Overall, the game-by-game improvement that Osborne has keyed on was there, he said.
“I thought it went pretty well,” he said. “The guys tried hard to hold them to three points. And to play 50 people on defense is pretty good with some key players out.”
One of those key players No. 1 defensive left tackle Neil Smith
will return this week, Osborne said. Smith served a one-game suspension Saturday for pleading guilty to vandalism charges involving a tire-puncturing incident on two Lincoln police cars.
But the status of No. 1 nose guard Lawrence Pete with a sprained ankle is still questionable, Osborne said.
“He’s still limping when he walks,” Osborne said. “So I don’t know about him.”
Top split end Rod Smith, sidelined with a bruised back and ribs, should play this week, Osborne said.
“We can kind of knock on wood on the injury situation,” Osborne said. “At this point, nobody is hurt.
“Come tomorrow, a couple guys might be sore and by Monday you end up with one or two guys who can’t play. Hopefully, we won’t have a lot of guys show up tomorrow hurt.”
|Yards per carry||3.3||6.9|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
|Utah State||Sept. 5|
|Arizona State||Sept. 26|
|South Carolina||Oct. 3|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 17|
|Kansas State||Oct. 24|
|Iowa State||Nov. 7|
|Florida State||Jan. 1|
Nebraska has played 20 games on Oct. 24. See them all »
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