MANHATTAN, Kan. — In stomping Kansas State 48-3 Saturday, Nebraska scored on its first six possessions, got a second straight 200-yard day from I-back Ken Clark (225 yards in 20 carries) and saw backup I-back Tyreese Knox add 108 yards and four touchdowns in 19 carries.
So what did NU Coach Tom Osborne want to talk about after the game?
The No. 5 and 6 Huskers, 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Eight, just missed their first shutout of the season-by 61 yards. That was the length of Mark Porter’s KSU-record field goal, boosted by a 25-mph south wind in the first quarter.
The NU defense, battered for 42 points and 455 yards last week by Oklahoma State, also whacked back the yards allowed. Kansas State, 0-7 and 0-3, gained just 189 total yards-54 the second half.
Big deal, you say. How good can a winless team’s offense be?
Well, here are some testimonials:
“That’s a darn good offense Kansas State has,” NU athletic director Bob Devaney said. “That coach is innovative and knows how to move the football.”
Osborne said he agreed.
“I was particularly proud of our defense,” he said. “Kansas State has a good offensive team, and we held them to three points.”
NU strong safety Reggie Cooper, whose diving interception at the NU 1 stopped a KSU drive in the first quarter, said he didn’t realize until midweek that K-State is first in the Big Eight and 13th nationally in passing.
“Their quarterback has a good arm, and they throw more than half the time,” Cooper said. “So I thought we did a good job. When they throw that much, what do you expect?”
The Huskers limited KSU quarterback Carl Straw, a 53.9 percent passer who was averaging 212 yards a game, to 14 completions in 34 attempts (41.2 percent) and 137 yards.
“Their quarterback threw well, and their receivers did a good job,” Osborne said. “But we kept them out of the end zone. So it was probably one of our better defensive days.”
The total Nebraska effort secured a National Collegiate Athletic Association record.
The Huskers now are assured of a 27th straight winning season, breaking the mark of 26 first set by Penn State from 1939-64 and matched by Alabama from 1958-83.
“It’s nice,” Osborne said. “A lot of people have had something to do with it.”
First, the 16-year coach thanked NU fans, who accounted for about 20,000 of Saturday’s crowd of 35,000 at KSU Stadium.
“The people in red down here today have had a lot to do with the record,” Osborne said. “That kind of tradition breeds success. And if people come watch you play, that attracts players.
“Then, we’ve had a lot of good coaches and players. And you have to go back to Bob Devaney, where it started.”
Nebraska’s last losing season was 3-6-1 in 1961, the year before Devaney arrived as head coach.
The Huskers jumped at the chance to assure the record-setting victory, scoring on all six first-half possessions. But they needed fourth-down conversions to keep three of their four touchdown drives alive.
The Huskers took the opening kickoff after K-State chose to kick with the wind and churned to the Wildcats’ 45. On fourth and one, Clark barreled for 3 yards to keep the drive going.
Two plays later, Clark scooted 32 yards on a draw play to score. Gregg Barrios’ extra point put NU up 7-0 with 11:03 left in the first quarter.
Kansas State’s first possession started and ended with big plays.
Straw hit receiver Greg Washington with a 38-yard bomb over first-time NU starter Bruce Pickens on the first play to move into NU territory at the 33.
“That was pretty well-covered,” NU defensive coordinator Charlie McBride said. “It was just a great throw and a great catch.
“I kind of wish I wasn’t coaching because that would have been fun to watch.”
When the drive fizzled after that, Porter used every inch of help the 25-mph south gave in booting the second-longest field goal in Big Eight history (behind Tom Whelihan’s 62-yarder for Missouri in 1986). The points also were K-State’s first in the first quarter against Nebraska since 1983 when Husker Mike Rozier mistakenly downed the opening kickoff in the end zone for a safety.
The Huskers came back with a second straight 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.
Again, a fourth-down play-fourth and four at the 44-saved the drive. Clark swept right, broke two tackles and the 100-yard mark while gaining 28 yards to the KSU 16.
Clark was slowed most of last week with a strained arch.
“He was a little subpar today, but you could see his balance,” Osborne said. “I don’t think he had quite the quickness he normally would because of his foot problem.
“But he got through the day without aggravating it.”
Four plays later, Knox banged in from the 2 to boost the Husker lead to 14-3 with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
Kansas State bounced back to move 48 yards to the NU 27. But Cooper made a diving interception in front of K-State’s Lawrence Tolbert just inbounds at the 1-yard line to stop the Wildcats.
At least, Cooper says he was inbounds.
“Sure I was,” he said.
How many feet did you have inbounds?
“I don’t know,” he said, laughing. “It doesn’t matter now.
“From the time they snapped the ball, the quarterback was looking right at the receiver. I just went that way and outjumped the receiver.”
After the interception, Nebraska rolled 80 yards in 11 plays for the third straight time as quarterback Steve Taylor hit Todd Milllikan with a 28-yard pass and Clark broke free for 27 yards. But this time, the Huskers had to settle for Barrios’ 36-yard field goal and a 17-3 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.
While the NU offense kept rolling, the defense struggled slightly.
Straw completed passes of 13, 10 and 7 yards on the next drive to help get the Wildcats to the NU 30. On fourth and 10 from there, K-State called a timeout to set a play.
But Straw bobbled a low snap from shotgun formation and NU’s defensive front smothered him for a 5-yard loss.
Nebraska took advantage in two plays.
After Knox’s 12-yard run, Taylor scrambled and found wingback Dana Brinson with a deep pass to the KSU 15. Brinson came back for the ball, juked two defenders and scored to complete the 52-yard touchdown. Nebraska led 24-3 with 9:19 left in the half.
Barrios’ second field goal-a 37-yarder-boosted NU’s lead to 27-3 on the next drive.
Husker defensive tackle Kent Wells then set up NU’s final first-half TD. He sacked Straw at the K-State 25, forced a fumble and Willie Griffin recovered.
Nebraska used another fourth-down conversion to score. Taylor, with a block from wingback Jamie Worden, scrambled for 16 yards to the KSU 6 on fourth and six. Knox scored from there on the next play to make it 34-3 Huskers with 59 seconds left in the half.
In the second half, Clark broke the 200-yard barrier with 10:30 left in the third quarter on a 14-yard burst. That drive stalled on a fourth-and-11 play at the KSU 22.
But Clark added runs of 12 and 8 yards early in the next drive. Taylor’s passes of 24 yards to Millikan and 19 yards to Nate Turner also helped set up Knox’s 2-yard TD run.
Clark took the day off after that possession, finishing with 225 yards. In conjunction with last week’s 256-yard day vs. Oklahoma State, Clark now is just the third player in NU history to have back-to-back 200-yard days. I.M. Hipp in 1977 (vs. Indiana and Kansas) and Mike Rozier in 1983 (vs. Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma) are the others.
Osborne said he had no thoughts of putting Clark back in to make a run at Rozier’s single-game rushing record of 285 yards set against Kansas in 1983.
“We didn’t want to leave him in because we didn’t want to get him hurt,” Osborne said. “We felt he had already had a good day’s work.
“It would have been foolish to leave him in because he was getting tired.”
NU’s final TD came on the first play after Pickens intercepted Straw’s pass and ran it back 18 yards to the K-State 26.
Knox bolted up the middle for the TD with 47 seconds left in the third quarter, giving him 100 yards for the day.
Osborne praised Kansas State for continuing its fight to the end.
“It’s quite a credit to Stan Parrish and his staff,” he said. “They played about as well as they could, and we weren’t too far off.
“It wasn’t a real emotional effort on our part, but we played hard.”
|Yards per carry||2.2||6.5|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas 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|
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