AMES, Iowa — Snow fell sideways Saturday at Cyclone Stadium. The wind screamed out of the northwest at 25 to 40 mph. The wind chill dropped to 3 degrees.
And Nebraska quarterback Steve Taylor, from sunny California, couldn’t wait to get on the field.
The senior All-American wanted to rid himself of the bad taste left in his mouth from his last performance at Iowa State in 1986.
“I was thinking about that the whole time today,” Taylor said. “It was cold that day, and I was like 1 for 9 passing for negative 3 yards.
“I wanted to come back and play a really good football game here.”
Taylor dashed through the snow 12 times for 154 yards and three touchdowns and completed 5 of 9 passes for 71 yards and another touchdown to lead Nebraska to a 51-16 victory over Iowa State.
I-back Ken Clark added 146 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries, while NU’s first-team defense held the Cyclones to 86 total yards and one field goal through three quarters.
Of an announced crowd of 50,158, about 5,000 remained at the end to see the 9-1 Huskers notch their 20th straight nine-win season and boost their Big Eight record to 5-0.
Iowa State fell to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the league.
Besides ridding himself of a personal disappointment, Taylor said the Huskers wanted to reassert themselves after struggling in a 26-18 victory over Missouri in their previous game.
“We dropped in the ratings because we didn’t play very well,” he said. “We wanted to come out and put some points on the board.”
But NU Coach Tom Osborne cringed at any suggestion that Nebraska was racking up points to gain rating points.
“Oh, no,” Osborne exclaimed when asked if the team tried to make a statement after falling from No. 5 to No. 7 in last week’s Associated Press poll of sportswriters and broadcasters.
But fans dressed in Iowa State colors didn’t believe it.
They booed heavily near the end of the first half when the Huskers used their last two timeouts during an ISU possession, forced a punt and drove 48 yards to set up Gregg Barrios’ 30-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
That increased Nebraska’s lead from 28-0 to 31-0.
“You score all the points you can score until you know you’ve got the thing won,” Osborne said. “We wouldn’t have done that with two or three minutes to go in the game.
“But when you’ve got a whole half to play, you score all you can get. You have to take care of yourself first, and the first thing for us was to win the ball game.”
Osborne said Nebraska wasn’t trying to show up Iowa State or punish Cyclones Coach Jim Walden for criticizing Osborne about being “insensitive” to ISU’s shortage of scholarship players.
“The fans were booing, and I heard that,” he said. “I’m sorry.
“There will be comment about running up the score. But we didn’t run up the score today. We had our second units in midway through the third quarter. If they took it that way, I’m sorry.”
A fan wearing Iowa State clothing jumped in front of Osborne and began yelling as Osborne jogged from the dressing room to the field for the start of the second half.
But Osborne said he didn’t notice.
“I get hollered at going on and off the field all the time,” he said. “My only hope is that it doesn’t happen at our own stadium.”
While Iowa State fans booed, Nebraska backers cheered Taylor.
Two years ago in Ames, Nebraska won 35-14 and Taylor scored two touchdowns. But he rushed 12 times for just 43 yards and completed only 1 of 9 passes for minus-3 yards.
On Saturday, his 225 yards of total offense lifted him past Turner Gill into third on NU’s all-time list with 4,767 yards.
“That means a lot to me,” Taylor said. “When I leave here, I want to be considered the best or one of the best quarterbacks Nebraska has ever had.” Taylor also came within 3 yards of his own quarterback rushing record-157 yards vs. Utah State in 1987 — even after a wobbly start.
His first four carries were for-2,-2,-1 and 1 yard.
But he followed those with jaunts of 11, 23, 28, 20, 23, 6, 11 and 36 yards before leaving the game with 8:20 left in the third quarter.
“Steve really ran well,” Osborne said. “That’s about as well as I’ve ever seen him run.”
Taylor appeared set to notch his first-ever 200-yard rushing day. But on his final carry, ISU defensive back Tim Baker hauled Taylor down from behind at the ISU 49 to turn a potential 85-yard TD run into a 36-yard gain.
“Honestly, I think I should have scored,” Taylor said. “With my speed, I think I should score when I break the line of scrimmage and get one-on-one with somebody.
“But for some reason, the guy tackled me. I think it was a huge gust of wind that held me back. That’s my excuse.”
That run, like most of Taylor’s long-gainers, came on an option roll out. It wasn’t necessarily designed for Taylor to keep the ball as much as he did.
“If I had needed to pitch the ball, I could have,” Taylor said. “But I didn’t want to take any unnecessary chances.”
Taylor said the weather didn’t bother him.
“I was pretty much adjusted to it,” he said. “I had my long johns on.”
But Osborne fretted before the game.
“I was worried that the field might become unplayable,” he said. “We thought whoever had the wind the first quarter might be the deciding factor.”
Iowa State won the toss and took the wind. But it was of little advantage as Taylor and Clark helped defrost NU’s offense after two straight punts to score on five straight possessions.
The Huskers first touchdown drive was set up when ISU quarterback Bret Oberg’s pass deflected off of split end Dennis Ross’ hands and into the chest of cornerback Charles Fryar. After Fryar’s return of 5 yards and 5 more for a face-mask penalty, NU started at its own 36.
The Huskers lumbered 64 yards in 11 plays, surviving a fumbled handoff between Taylor and fullback Bryan Carpenter at the ISU 39.
Clark ripped off 23 yards two plays after the bobble. Then on third and five at the 6, Taylor rolled right and found tight end Todd Millikan with a touchdown pass. Barrios’ conversion kick made it 7-0 with seven seconds left in the first quarter.
Working into the wind the second quarter, Iowa State gained just one first down while Nebraska kept rolling.
The Huskers zipped 78 yards in eight plays for their second touchdown. Clark’s 27-yard burst got NU into ISU territory, then he finished it with an 18-yard sweep right. Barrios’ kick made it 14-0 with 8:58 left in the second quarter.
“I was surprised we moved the ball as well as we did,” Osborne said. “The weather really was quite a factor.”
Nebraska kept coming, scoring touchdowns on back-to-back five-play drives after ISU punts of 30 and 28 yards into the wind.
The first went 67 yards, with Taylor bootlegging right for 23 yards, then bootlegging left for 28 and a touchdown that increased NU’s lead to 21-0 with 4:46 left in the half.
The second Husker march went 50 yards, with Taylor again providing the two biggest runs — a 20-yarder and a 23-yarder for the TD. The second run put Taylor over 100 yards rushing for the day and boosted Nebraska’s lead to 28-0 with 1:53 left in the half.
Barrios’ field goal made it 31-0 at halftime.
Nebraska took the third-quarter kickoff and marched 80 yards in 11 plays. Taylor capped it with his third touchdown, an 11-yard run for a 38-0 lead.
Jeff Shudak’s 42-yard field goal after Iowa State recovered NU fullback Lance Lewis’ fumble at the Husker 20 got the Cyclones on the board with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Gerry Gdowski scored on a 1-yard run and I-back Leodis Flowers scored from the 3 for NU’s final touchdowns.
ISU got a 67-yard touchdown run from Paul Thibodeaux and, with one second left, a 35-yard pass from Derek DeGennaro to Ross to complete the scoring.
“I was pleased with our performance,” Osborne said. “We thought it would be a difficult game. Iowa State had played well the past few weeks.”
Nebraska outgained Iowa State 637 yards to 251, and allowed the Cyclones just eight snaps in Husker territory through three quarters.
With two regular-season games to play, Osborne said he likes what he sees from his team.
“We’ve been a little inconsistent,” he said. “But today, as long as we had our top units in, we played well offensively and defensively. And when you look at the conditions, our kicking game was about as good as it could be.”
|Yards per carry||3.8||8.3|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa 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 21 games on Nov. 5. See them all »
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