LINCOLN — The more Nebraska ran the football Saturday, the fewer places UCLA found to hide.
"I saw fear in their eyes," quarterback Tommie Frazier said after the No. 1-and 2-ranked Huskers rushed for 484 yards to flatten the No. 12 and 13 Bruins 49-21 before 75,687 fans at Memorial Stadium.
"A couple of their linebackers looked at me like, 'What play are they going to run now? And is it going to be for a big gain?'
"It was hard for them to call a defensive front to stop us because we hit them with counter sweeps, with draws and with dives. We kept them off balance the whole game.''
UCLA reeled so badly that 19 of Nebraska's 65 rushing plays went for 10 yards or more. The rushing total — the most ever against UCLA in the post-World War II era — boosted NU's national-best per game average to 458.7 yards.
After three games, Nebraska (3-0) is averaging 7.3 yards each time it runs the ball.
"That's our bread and butter, and we're not going to go away from it," said Frazier, who ran 12 yards for a touchdown and passed 23 and 9 yards for two more.
"Yes, we'd like to improve our passing game. But as long as we can run it like this, we're going to."
I-back Lawrence Phillips, who ran for 175 yards in the last game against Texas Tech, gained a career-high 178 yards in 19 carries Saturday.
The sophomore, who grew up 30 minutes from the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, helped NU build a 28-7 halftime lead with runs of 12 and 17 yards on the Huskers' first scoring drive. On the second march, he capped it with a 1-yard run by tipping Frazier's high-and-hard option pitch into the air and flagging it with one hand.
After UCLA (2-1) closed to 28-14 in the third quarter, Phillips ended any upset hopes with a 60-yard sideline dash and dance to the UCLA 7.
Two plays later, co-No. 2 I-back Clinton Childs — who had a career-high 78 yards in seven carries — scored from the 8 to start a 21-point run that blew open the game.
The fans roared in admiration while watching a replay of Phillips' 60-yard run on the two new video boards installed in the southeast and northwest corners.
Running Backs Coach Frank Solich also couldn't resist a second look.
"I told myself I wasn't going to watch any replays," Solich said, smiling. "But I did sneak a peek on that one.
"That was an outstanding effort. He's always capable of that type of run."
The fuel for many of Saturday's long runs, Frazier said, came from the words UCLA players spoke during the week about how last year's 14-13 loss to Nebraska in Los Angeles shouldn't have happened.
Bruins linebacker Donnie Edwards told The World-Herald that "everybody knows deep down in their heart that we should have won that game."
"They did more talking than they did preparing for us. They talked all week about how good they are and how they shouldn't have lost to us and that we were lucky last year.
"You can't come out and say things like that."
Few unkind words were heard from the Bruins after the game.
"They are far and away the most difficult offense we face," UCLA Coach Terry Donahue said. "No one is near as difficult to defend when they have good players in their offense as they do now.
"I was concerned all week about our defense's ability to match up. That proved to be an accurate assessment."
Nebraska used 94 of the 112 players its suited up for the game. Had the substitution not been as liberal, NU Secondary Coach George Darlington said, the score could have been more lopsided.
"It's not presumptuous to say we could have scored in the 60s if we had not played so many people, ' he said. "And they may not have scored in the 20s.
"But we're not going to risk injury to people just to stay high in the polls. That's not what we're here for."
Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said a 21-point halftime lead didn't allow him to relax because UCLA — even without injured All-America split end J.J. Stokes — gained 414 total yards to NU's 555.
"There was a period of time where we just weren't stopping them very well," Osborne said. "Sometimes I would rather be on the sidelines and sputter offensively if your defense is dominating.
"Against West Virginia (a 31-0 win), I didn't feel uneasy at all. Today, I felt uneasy until there was 10 or 12 minutes left in the game because they moved the ball with regularity."
UCLA tried to rally in the third quarter with the help of two Nebraska mistakes.
On the opening possession of the third quarter, the Bruins used a 15-yard roughing-the-punter penalty against nose tackle Christian Peter to keep a drive alive.
After that foul moved UCLA to the NU 34, quarterback Wayne Cook hit split end Jim McElroy for 24 yards. Two plays later, halfback Sharmon Shah scored from the 3 to cut NU's lead to 28-14 with 12:30 left in the third quarter.
After an exchange of punts, Frazier bobbled a snap and UCLA's Edwards recovered at the Husker 37.
The Bruins got one first down, then were forced into a fourth-and-eight at the NU 24. After calling time, they had Bjorn Merten try a 42-yard field goal. But the returning All-American missed wide right.
"We kept them from getting back in the game," Darlington said. "When it counted, the defense played well."
The Blackshirts' stop seemed to inspire the offense, which stormed 75 yards in four plays for another touchdown.
Phillips' 60-yard run set up Childs' 8-yard touchdown to put NU ahead 35-14 with 2:23 left in the third quarter.
When the Blackshirts then held UCLA on three downs to force a punt, the rout was on.
The Huskers pushed the lead to 42-14 just four plays later. Wingback Abdul Muhammad's 30-yard run on a reverse keyed the drive, which Frazier ended with a 9-yard shovel pass to split end Brendan Holbein with 14:55 left in the game.
UCLA failed on a fourth-down try at its 30 on the next possession to set up another NU touchdown. Backup quarterback Brook Berringer finished the short drive with a 1-yard sneak for a 49-14 lead with 11:32 to go.
UCLA added an 11-yard touchdown with 8:07 left in the game against a combination of Nebraska's second and third defenses. NU's final possession ended on the UCLA 6-yard line.
"I wish we had been a little more dominant defensively," Osborne said. "But you've got to credit UCLA's offensive style for some of that."
Nebraska's offensive style was established early.
After going three downs and out on the first possession, the Huskers scored touchdowns on four straight drives of 60, 89, 80 and 80 yards. In those possessions, NU ran the ball 28 times and passed it seven.
Phillips kept the first drive alive with a 17-yard run on fourth-and-one at the UCLA 40. On the next play, Frazier hit tight end Eric Alford with a 23-yard touchdown strike. The lead stayed at 6-0 when Tom Sieler's extra-point kick was blocked.
UCLA bounced back to drive into NU territory. Cook completed passes of 20 and 8 yards to help the Bruins get to the Husker 36. But outside linebacker Dwayne Harris and tackle Terry Connealy combined on an 8-yard sack to stop the drive and push UCLA out of field-goal range.
"Our execution, pursuit and aggressiveness were there when it needed to be," Harris said. "We kind of went for the big play today."
Phillips' 1-yard run put NU up 12-0 with 11 seconds left in the first quarter.
UCLA responded with an 80-yard touchdown drive. The big play was Cook's 15-yard pass to flanker Kevin Jordan, which turned into a 50-yard gain to the Nebraska 18 when NU cornerback Leslie Dennis missed the tackle along the sideline.
"We had some excellent hits," Darlington said,"but we were trying to kill them. Sometimes, you miss when you do that."
Two plays later from the Husker 20, Cook hit Jordan on a wide receiver screen that he cut up the middle for a touchdown. Merten's point-after kick cut Nebraska's lead to 12-7 with 13:23 left in the half.
But the Huskers needed only eight plays to score again.
Childs started the march with runs of 25 and 22 yards to get NU into UCLA territory at the 31. After two complete passes produced another first down, Frazier capped the drive with a 12-yard bootleg run for a touchdown. On the extra point, Frazier ran in on the option to give NU a 20-7 lead with 9:34 left in the half.
The defense set up Nebraska's next score as backup strongside linebacker Clint Brown swiped a Cook pass and returned it 4 yards to midfield.
Nebraska pounded it in from there in eight plays using almost the entire No. 2 offense.
Fullback Jeff Makovicka had runs of 7, 9 and 9 yards. I-back Damon Benning added an 8-yarder before finishing the drive with a 2-yard touchdown leap. Frazier ran for two points again to put NU ahead 28-7 with 3:33 left in the half.
|Yards per carry||3.7||7.4|
Nebraska is 7-6 all-time against UCLA.
|West Virginia||Aug. 28|
|Texas Tech||Sept. 8|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 8|
|Kansas State||Oct. 15|
|Iowa State||Nov. 12|
|Miami (FL)||Jan. 1|
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