LINCOLN — You figure out Nebraska’s 63-42 victory Saturday over Oklahoma State.
Husker Coach Tom Osborne says it’s beyond him.
“I don’t even know quite how to approach it,” he said.
Witnessing 1,117 total yards and a Memorial Stadium-record 105 points might tend to boggle the minds of coaches, players and 76,432 spectators.
What is known is that No. 7 and 8 Nebraska scored on its first, fourth, ninth and 12th plays on it way to a 42-0 lead over No. 10 OSU less than 19 minutes into the game.
Another given is that Oklahoma State, which came into games against Nebraska undefeated in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988, went away with another knot on its head.
But though the Cowboys, 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big Eight, never really got close to breaking their 27-year winless streak against 6-1 and 2-0 Nebraska, they never were completely out of the game, either.
Osborne, whose team led 49-21 at halftime and 56-28 after three quarters, said he didn’t relax until backup wingback Jamie Worden covered an onside kick attempt with 1:33 left in the game.
“This was like a 1983 game,” Osborne said. “Those games were all 60-something or 70-something to 40. We have got to play better on defense.”
The pluses for Nebraska:
— Junior I-back Ken Clark’s 256 yards rushing in 27 carries, the second-best in NU history behind Mike Rozier’s 285 yards in 31 carries vs. Kansas in 1983. Clark scored on runs of 73, 9 and 2 yards.
— Senior quarterback Steve Taylor’s three touchdowns rushing (60, 43 and 9 yards) and two passing (32 and 13 yards), giving him 55 career touchdowns accounted for, which breaks David Humm’s school record of 53.
— The offense’s 299 yards rushing on 11 attempts in the first quarter-yes, the first quarter-and 570 in the game. The Huskers added 92 passing yards for a 662 total, 3 yards short or last week’s season-high against Kansas.
— Oklahoma State’s 42 points were the most ever against an Osborne-coached team, surpassing the 41 UCLA scored last month. The 42 points also were the most allowed at home since 1949, when Oklahoma beat Nebraska 48-0.
— The Cowboys gained 455 total yards-208 rushing and 247 passing-the most NU has allowed this season.
— OSU tailback Barry Sanders gained 189 yards in 35 carries and scored four touchdowns, the most prolific day for an opposing ballcarrier in Memorial Stadium since Penn State’s Curt Warner ran for 238 yards in 1981.
“It’s like my golf game,” Osborne said. “Every time I think I’ve got something fixed, something else breaks down. The wheels keep coming off something.
“Normally, this is the time of year when you feel like you’re rolling, you know what to expect from your defense and you know what your offense can do.
“This year, I still don’t know. It’s the darnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”
What has Osborne buffaloed are Nebraska’s wild swings on offense and defense.
“For awhile, we couldn’t play well in the first quarter,” he said. “Now, we play well in the first quarter, but not at the end of games.
“Sometimes our defense has looked good, and sometimes bad. And our offense had a terrible game against UNLV, and now they look like the 1983 team.”
In the beginning, it did look like the 1983 “Scoring Explosion” revisited.
In a who-would-have-guessed-it first half, Nebraska scored 42 points quicker on Oklahoma State (with 11:42 left in second quarter) than it did against Kansas the week before (with 8:41 left in the second quarter).
Nebraska scored on its first play from scrimmage after forcing an Oklahoma State punt.
Clark powered left, took hits from OSU defenders Devin Jones and Rod Smith and suddenly spun into the clear at the NU 35. He outran everyone to complete the 73-yard touchdown run. Chris Drennan’s extra point made it 7-0 just 1:05 into the game.
“I was really proud of his running ability today,” Osborne said. “He was hard to knock off his feet.
“Their guy Sanders is a great guy, but Ken did some things of equal magnitude.”
OSU struck right back. Quarterback Mike Gundy found split end Hart Lee Dykes for 49 yards to the NU 42.
Five plays later, Gundy overthrew a wide-open Dykes, but connected with old nemesis Charles Fryar. The Husker cornerback, whose end zone interception last year killed any Cowboy comeback hopes, returned his theft 86 yards for a touchdown. That made it NU 14, OSU 0 with 11:29 left in the first quarter.
Gundy, who entered the game with 70 straight passes without an interception, was picked off again on the next series. Husker safety Mark Blazek wrestled the ball from OSU flanker Curtis Mayfield at the NU 20.
Three plays later, Nebraska scored again.
On play one, Taylor optioned right, hung on through a hit and then flipped back to Clark, who ran 32 yards. Play two, a Taylor-to-Clark-to Richard Bell reverse, went for 38 yards. Clark then finished it from the 9 for a 21-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.
Nebraska’s time of possession at that point was 53 seconds.
“I was surprised at the number of big plays early,” Osborne said. “It was almost like the UCLA game all over again, only in reverse.”
Willie Griffin’s 7-yard sack of Gundy stopped OSU on the next drive, and Nebraska took over and scored in five plays.
Taylor, faking a pitch right, bootlegged left and followed blocks from guard John Nelson and split end Morgan Gregory to race 60 yards for a touchdown. That put the Huskers up 28-0 with 4:09 left in the quarter.
Another OSU punt meant another NU touchdown.
In just three plays, the Huskers scored as Taylor capped it again with a 43-yard scramble, rolling right and finally cutting back across the field near the 10 to elude two defenders. That put the Huskers up 35-0-matching last year’s score-with 1:05 left in the first quarter.
“We never gave ourselves a chance to get in the game,” OSU Coach Pat Jones said. “I felt entering the game that for us to have a chance to win, something positive needed to happen early. Obviously, it went the other way.”
The beat continued in the second quarter after OSU was stymied on offense again.
This time, it took seven plays, but the Huskers plowed it in. Clark’s back-to-back runs of 12 and 29 yards set up his own 2-yard touchdown. That made the score 42-0 with 11:42 left in the half and gave Clark 176 yards and three touchdowns in just eight carries.
Osborne wasn’t ready to relax, though.
“In the back of my mind,” Bell said, “I could hear Coach Osborne’s voice saying, ‘Fellas, we might have to score 60 or 70 to win this thing. They can come back and score at any time.’
“I’m looking at the scoreboard and thinking, ‘Coach, we’ve got 42 points. How are they going to come back?’ But as you can see, they did.”
Oklahoma State finally broke through in the second quarter. Sanders’ 23-yard run and Gundy’s 13-yard completion to Dykes helped set up Sanders’ 9-yard TD run. Cary Blanchard’s extra point pulled the Cowboys to 42-7 with 8:45 left in the half.
Two minutes later, it was 42-14. OSU’s Smith intercepted a Taylor pass and returned it 32 yards to the NU 1. Sanders jumped into the end zone two plays later.
Nebraska responded with its longest drive of the half. Taylor’s 21-yard pass to Gregory preserved the 10-play march, which Taylor finished with a 32-yard touchdown pass to tight end Todd Millikan. The Huskers led 49-14 with 1:50 to play.
Oklahoma State appeared content to run out the clock. Two running plays netted six yards, then Gundy fumbled the center snap on third down. But NU linemen Lawrence Pete and Griffin fell on Gundy and were flagged for a 15-yard late hit.
With the ball moved to the OSU 39, Gundy tried a bomb and connected with flanker Jarrod Green for 41 yards to the NU 20.
Two plays later, with three seconds left, Gundy found Dykes for a 12-yard touchdown. The conversion cut NU’s lead to 49-21 at halftime.
“In fairness to the defense,” Osborne said, “no matter how hard you try when you’re up 35 or 40 points, it’s hard to maintain defensive intensity.
“But I was really disappointed at the half that we let down and let them get that easy touchdown just before half. And it didn’t get any better the second half.”
The Huskers ground out second-half touchdown drives of 51 yards in 4:46 and 74 yards in 6:56. Millikan’s 13-yard catch from Taylor provided one touchdown and Taylor’s 9-yard run the other.
“We got slowed down some partly because Oklahoma State did some things better and partly because we didn’t have any linemen left,” Osborne said.
Starters Doug Glaser, John Nelson, Andy Keeler and Jake Young all were dinged by the third quarter and on the bench.
“We did OK after that,” Osborne said. “But it hampered our effectiveness to get the big play.”
OSU still had some left, though.
The Cowboys drove 70, 73 and 70 yards for scores. Sanders, averaging 22.5 points a game, scored his third and fourth TDs on runs of 1 and 4 yards, and Gundy added a 20-yard pass to Mitch Nash to close within 63-42 with 1:34 to play.
The ensuing onside kick failed though, and Nebraska finally began to substitute.
“Just the idea that they could score 42 points on us is bewildering to me,” said NU safety Tim Jackson, who intercepted Gundy in the third quarter.
“I was upset at first. But this is a team that does what it has to do to win. The offense and defense comes up with the plays they need at the right time.”
Osborne said he wants to see the defense play better all the time, not just at the right time.
“Oklahoma State can score on anybody,” he said. “But if we’re going to have any chance to win the Big Eight championship, we have to stop people better than we did today.”
|Yards per carry||4.7||9.5|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.
|Texas A&M||Aug. 27|
|Utah State||Sept. 3|
|Arizona State||Sept. 24|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 15|
|Kansas State||Oct. 22|
|Iowa State||Nov. 5|
|Miami (FL)||Jan. 2|
Nebraska has played 18 games on Oct. 15. See them all »
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