LINCOLN — The whistling sound that echoed through Memorial Stadium Saturday was Kansas State dropping in the polls after taking a 49-25 pounding from Nebraska.
The second-ranked Huskers (7-0 overall, 3-0 in the Big Eight) got touchdowns from their offense, defense and special teams to build a 35-6 halftime lead. Part of the 206th straight sellout crowd of 76,072 began to leave when the score grew to 42-6 late in the third quarter.
Eighth-ranked Kansas State (6-1, 2-1) never recovered, despite scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns—two against Nebraska's No. 2 defense and one on a block of a backup punter's first varsity kick.
"I felt we were past the point where anyone could do this to us," KSU wide receiver Kevin Lockett said. "Nebraska took over every aspect of the game."
The Wildcats' spot in the polls, which matched their highest in school history, had come after beating six opponents who were a combined 11-27 before Saturday.
That prompted the following question: Did Kansas State resemble other Top 10 teams Nebraska has played in recent years?
"Uh, that's a hard question," NU middle linebacker Doug Colman said as he backed toward the interview room door. "You've got to remember it's hard to play us here."
Husker rush end Jared Tomich said K-State looked strong in the first quarter.
"But then it seemed like their emotion left them," he said. "And their defense was riding a lot on emotion."
So was Nebraska's defense. With the help of nine sacks, the Huskers posted the fifth-best rushing defense total in school history—minus 19 yards.
"We took this kind of personal," NU rush end Grant Wistrom said. "Statistically, they were ranked as the No. 1 defense in the country.
"But we wanted to show them in a head-to-head situation that we're as good."
While NU stretched Kansas State's victory drought in the series to 27 years, some Huskers said the win left their thirst unquenched.
"Kansas State's comeback took a little edge off this for us," said linebacker Terrell Farley, who had a game-high nine tackles in his first career start.
"When you're up 42-6 and the other team scores 19 straight points, that's not right. We should have shut them down completely."
Kansas State's rally led Husker Coach Tom Osborne to put his first units back in the game for the final six minutes.
"I would rather not have had to do that," Osborne said. "On the other hand, it's really nice to play a good football team and be able to pull the first team out. Usually you play a game like this, and you never take them out.
"It was a little disappointing, though. There was probably too much time left on the clock when we started substituting."
The re-insertion of Tommie Frazier at quarterback allowed the Husker senior to post a personal best in touchdown passes. His fourth of the game came on a 12-yard shovel pass to I-back Ahman Green with 3:43 left. Frazier's previous high of three touchdown passes came in 1992 against Kansas.
Frazier, 10 of 16 passing for 148 yards, also had TD tosses of 11 yards to tight end Sheldon Jackson, 10 yards to Green and 32 yards to wingback Jon Vedral.
The touchdown passes were necessary because Nebraska failed to score a rushing touchdown for the first time in 35 games, dating back to a 19-10 loss at Iowa State in 1992.
Nebraska gained a season-low 338 total yards—190 rushing and 148 passing—against a K-State defense allowing 199.8 yards a game. But Frazier said he's not sure if Kansas State has the best defense NU has faced.
"They held us to our lowest total," he said. "But what did we have, only 60-some plays (actually 63)? Other games we've had 80 or 90 plays."
Osborne said the yards and points were skewed Saturday.
"Some games we've had way more yards than points," he said. "Today we had way more points than yards."
One reason was because Nebraska's special teams and defense also scored points.
Kansas State took an early hit when Husker cornerback Mike Fullman returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown 4 1/2 minutes into the game. NU hadn't scored on a punt return since Morgan Gregory hauled one back 64 yards against Kansas in 1988, a span of 87 games.
"We got the momentum with the punt return," Frazier said. "That took a lot of emotion out of them the first half."
A 15-yard penalty against Fullman for celebrating his touchdown forced NU to kick off from the 20. Jimmy Dean's 30-yard return got K-State started at the Husker 49. Seven plays later, quarterback Matt Miller hit Lockett with an 18-yard touchdown pass. But Martin Gramatica missed the extra point, leaving Nebraska ahead 7-6 with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
After that drive, Kansas State gained just 81 yards on its next seven possessions before the backups came on in the fourth quarter.
The Huskers responded to K-State's first touchdown with their longest drive of the season in time—7:13—to score again.
Green's 33-yard run and 19-yard catch were big plays on the drive, which ended with an end-zone scramble. I-back Clinton Childs, trying a sweep from the KSU 2, lost the ball when hit by KSU defensive end Dirk Ochs. But Vedral recovered in the end zone to give Nebraska a 14-6 lead with two seconds left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Nebraska defense held Kansas State two straight times on three downs, and the Husker offense converted both stops into touchdowns.
On the first, Frazier capped an eight-play, 61-yard drive with his touchdown pass to Jackson. On the second, Frazier finished a five-play, 50-yard drive with his first shovel toss to Green, who broke three tackles to score. That gave NU a 28-6 lead with 5:21 to go in the half.
Then, Nebraska's defense contributed to the scoring.
From the K-State 10, Miller tried a shovel pass to running back Eric Hickson. But right rush end Chad Kelsay deflected it to left rush end Luther Hardin, who grabbed it at the 3 and scored to give Nebraska a 35-6 lead with 5:09 to go in the half.
In the third quarter, Frazier's touchdown pass to Vedral gave NU a 42-6 lead with 4:31 to go.
Kansas State scored fourth-quarter touchdowns on passes of 7 and 10 yards, then returned a blocked punt 6 yards to close to 42-25 with 5:59 left before NU's first-teamers returned.
"We did an awful lot of good things today," Osborne said. "Then we probably substituted too early.
"But I'm glad to get out of it with a good solid win and move on to Boulder."
|Yards per carry||-0.7||4.1|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
|Oklahoma State||Aug. 31|
|Michigan State||Sept. 9|
|Arizona State||Sept. 16|
|Washington State||Sept. 30|
|Kansas State||Oct. 21|
|Iowa State||Nov. 4|
Nebraska has played 19 games on Oct. 21. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group