LAWRENCE, Kan. — Let’s paint this one by the numbers.
Nebraska used its sixth-highest rushing total in history (547 yards), its ninth-best total offense performance ever (665 yards) and its second-highest scoring half of football (49 points) to smother Kansas 63-10 Saturday.
That romp, in the Big Eight opener for both schools, was the ninth-ranked and 5-1 Huskers’ 20th straight victory over 0-5 Kansas.
Another number of note was the estimated attendance at KU’s Memorial Stadium — 32,500. That’s the smallest crowd Nebraska has played in front of in at least 15 years.
But the number that stuck in the minds of most Nebraskans after the game was 28.
That was the Huskers’ first-quarter point total, which nearly matched the 30 scored through the season’s first five games combined.
“The coaches put in our minds this week to come out with a fast start because we hadn’t done that against anybody this year,” split end Morgan Gregory said. “Our goal was 14 points, and we scored 28. This feels good.”
Gregory capped that 28-point first quarter with a 64-yard punt return touchdown, the longest in Nebraska’s nine-touchdown day.
The Huskers, who struggled at times last week as a prohibitive favorite in a 48-6 victory over Nevada-Las Vegas, drew praise from Coach Tom Osborne for their workmanlike destruction of the 49 1/2-point underdog Jayhawks.
“Our players did a much better job this week than last week,” he said. “The guys played hard. And our offensive execution was very good, particularly in the first half.”
Nebraska might need a fast start this week to keep up with 4-0 and No. 13 Oklahoma State, a 41-21 winner over Colorado Saturday. NU and OSU will play this Saturday in Lincoln at 1:30 p.m.
“We played better today,” Osborne said. “But we’ll find out next week if we’re any good or not.”
Gregory said the Huskers tracked Oklahoma State via the scoreboard late in the game.
“When I saw it was 41-14, I started thinking about Oklahoma State,” he said. “It came to mind that it’s going to be a tough game.”
But the distraction level was virtually zero before the game, Gregory said.
“Everybody was real intense and focused on what they had to do,” he said.
“Against a team like this, you play yourself. Last week, we let ourselves get beat. This week, we played like ourselves.”
Each team’s first series set the tone for the game.
Kansas threw an incomplete pass, ran for no gain, threw another incomplete pass and punted.
Nebraska got a 14-yard punt return from Richard Bell to the KU 33 and strolled in from there to score in six plays.
Quarterback Steve Taylor, who ran for two touchdowns and passed for one, capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak. Chris Drennan kicked the first of his nine extra points for a 7-0 lead less than 3 1/2 minutes into the game.
Kansas scratched out two first downs, but had to punt. The kick pinned the Huskers down at their 3-yard line. But seven plays later, the ball was in the KU end zone.
Taylor hit tight end Todd Millikan for a 22-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 6:47 left in the quarter.
After another Kansas punt, Taylor and the estimated 16,000 Nebraka fans in attendance got a scare.
Running a quarterback draw, Taylor gained 18 yards before KU outside linebacker Jason Tyrer dumped him at the Jayhawk 38.
Taylor squirmed in pain as teammates signaled to the bench for help. Trainers George Sullivan and Jack Nickolite ran out and quickly waved for team physicians Dr. Pat Clare and Dr. Tom Heiser, who also raced to Taylor’s side.Pitch to Knox
Taylor eventually left the field on his own and rubbing his neck, the victim of what trainers called a “stinger” — a blow to a nerve.
“It felt like heat and electricity in my neck,” Taylor said.
On the next play, backup Gerry Gdowski made a perfect option pitch to I-back Tyreese Knox, who ran 34 yards to the 4. Knox, who led all rushers with 120 yards on only six carries, scored on the next play for a 21-0 advantage with 3:28 left in the quarter.
Then came another Kansas punt, and another Nebraska touchdown.
Gregory, returning punts because Dana Brinson is out with a jammed neck, raced left behind a blocking wall led by Mark Hagge and Tim Jackson to race 64 yards to score. NU led 28-0 with 1:43 left in the first quarter.
“I was able to get to the wall,” Gregory said. “There was one guy there. He got a piece of me, but I was able to stay up. The blocking made it look easy.”
On the next possession, Knox’s 51-yard burst helped set up freshman fullback Lance Lewis’ first career touchdown. The Scott City, Kan., all-stater scored from the 5 for a 35-0 lead less than 17 minutes into the game.
Kansas bounced back to score its first offensive points against Nebraska since 1985. Sophomore Brad Fleeman’s 50-yard field-goal try hit the crossbar and bounced through to cut the gap to 35-3 with 9:51 left in the second quarter.Kansas’ Only Touchdown
With Taylor back at quarterback, NU drove 71 yards to score in 1:20. Fullback Bryan Carpenter of Olathe, Kan., made it 42-3 Huskers with a 31-yard scoring run, Nebraska’s sixth straight touchdown.
On NU’s next series, another number of note came up.
With 5:21 left in the first half, No. 3 tight end Chris Garrett entered the game. He was the 59th player on NU’s 60-man travel roster to play in the first half. Only punter John Kroeker had to wait until the second half.
Kansas finally stopped a Nebraska threat at the 11 on a fourth-and-goal play, and promptly retaliated.
Quarterback Kelly Donohoe, a native of O’Neill, Neb., hit flanker Willie Vaughn with an 89-yard touchdown bomb over NU cornerback Bruce Pickens.
That pass, the third-longest in Jayhawk history, was KU’s first touchdown against Nebraska since 1984 and just the fourth in this decade.
No. 3 I-back Leodis Flowers scored his first career TD on a 1-yard run with 42 seconds left in the half to put Nebraska ahead 49-10.
Touchdown runs of 1 yard by Taylor and 2 yards by Mickey Joseph in the second half made the final 63-10.
The score might have been 84-10, but Nebraska squandered three other second-half scoring chances.
Outside linebacker Mike Croel’s roughing-the-kicker penalty nullified Bell’s 55-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter. I-back Ken Clark was smothered for a 4-yard loss on fourth-and-goal at the 1 with 3:16 left in the third quarter. And Joseph was intercepted in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska’s total offense at halftime was 437 yards. Double that and you get 874, just 9 short of the Huskers’ NCAA record of 883 set against New Mexico State in 1982.
But with backups playing more than starters, the Nebraska attack slowed the second half.
“We’ve got some guys on our second units, particularly in the line, who need a lot of experience,” Osborne said. “So we were able to slow ourselves down the second half, which was all right.
“We didn’t want to run up the score unnecessarily on Kansas, and I don’t think we did.”
|Yards per carry||2.0||7.5|
Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.
|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 19 games on Oct. 8. See them all »
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