STILLWATER, Okla. — Big plays led to a big blowout Thursday night as defending national champion Nebraska opened the 1995 season with a 64-21 thumping of Oklahoma State.
The second-ranked Huskers bit off huge chunks of yardage while scoring 44 points in an 18-minute span covering the second and third quarters. For the game, NU finished with 671 total yards—513 rushing and 158 passing.
"Our offense has so many weapons that you can't key on one guy," quarterback Tommie Frazier said. "If a defense takes away one guy, we've got two or three others who can make big plays."
Among the biggest ground-gobblers on a 99-degree night, the warmest at Lewis Field in 20 years:
I-back Lawrence Phillips. On his way to 153 yards in 12 carries, the junior Heisman Trophy candidate sprinted for touchdowns of 80 (a career best) and 27 yards.
When asked if he was trying to make a statement about the Heisman, Phillips said: "Our plan was to make a statement about being No. 1 or No. 2 so we can go to Phoenix and play in the Fiesta Bowl."
Frazier. The senior Heisman candidate hooked up with split end Reggie Baul for a 76-yard touchdown. Frazier completed 6 of 10 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He also ran 10 times for 64 yards and one touchdown.
Fullbacks Jeff Makovicka, Brian Schuster and Joel Makovicka. They broke runs of 33, 20 and 39 yards, respectively, on scoring drives.
Weakside linebacker Terrell Farley. The junior college transfer intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown, the first such play by a Husker in two seasons.
No. 4 I-back Ahman Green. The true freshman out of Omaha Central bolted 18 yards on his first career carry and later added a 14-yard touchdown by breaking three tackles.
While Nebraska ate up the yards on offense, the No. 1 defense barely gave the Oklahoma State offense a taste of success.
The Blackshirts allowed a 79-yard run to OSU tailback David Thompson in the second quarter that set up a touchdown. But the Cowboys averaged less than 2 yards on all other snaps before NU's top unit left the game midway through the third quarter and the Huskers leading 50 - 7.
"Other than that one long run," Husker Coach Tom Osborne said, "I thought our first defense played great."
By substituting freely during the final 20 minutes, Osborne said, he hopes he didn't hurt his team in the eyes of the voters watching the game on ESPN.
"We hope we came across well on television, " he said. "It's a terrible thing. But anymore with the voting system you've got to look good on TV a few times.
"So who knows what will happen there. If they thought we looked good, we'll be all right."
Osborne said he thought his team did a good job of getting ready in fall camp to play such an early game. Nebraska worked with Oklahoma State for three months last winter and spring to get the game—originally set for Oct. 7—moved to Thursday night.
"We thought it was a gamble, but it worked out, " Osborne said. "We thought if we could come down and win and not have a lot of injuries, it would be a good move."
The date switch also got the Huskers a game ahead of next week's trip to Michigan State.
"We thought it was good to get a game before Michigan State, " he said. "It also now gives us a break in the middle of the season and a chance to prepare extra for some Big Eight foes."
The victory boosted Nebraska's record against Oklahoma State to 33-0-1 since 1962. That matches the NCAA record for the longest major-college unbeaten string against one opponent, set by Oklahoma against Kansas State from 1935 through 1968.
The crowd of 42,100—including between 5,000 and 6,000 dressed in red—buzzed in surprise early as Nebraska committed one of its few mistakes on the game's first possession.
The Huskers appeared to be marching smoothly as five running plays produced 31 yards to the OSU 49. But Phillips, who lost only two fumbles last season in 308 rushes and receptions, bobbled the ball on the sixth play and Cowboy linebacker Taber LeBlanc recovered at the Husker 49.
Osborne said Phillips was as ready as anyone, despite not learning until Tuesday if he would be cleared to play. The NCAA had been checking into a lunch Phillips had last November with a sports agent, and now is looking at his connections to the owners of the California group home he lived in during junior high and high school.
"Lawrence isn't easily distracted," Osborne said. "He's a mature enough guy not to be bothered. He played hard."
After Phillips' bobble, Oklahoma State spent exactly one play in Nebraska territory. An incomplete pass, a 4-yard loss and NU rush end Jared Tomich's 11-yard sack moved the Cowboys back to their own 36 to force a punt.
The Husker offense found little resistance on its next possession. Frazier bolted for runs of 11 and 19 yards, and completed passes of 8 and 12 yards to tight end Mark Gilman.
Those plays helped set up Phillips' 3-yard touchdown run up the middle. True freshman place-kicker Kris Brown hooked the point after, leaving the score 6-0 with 6:20 left in the first quarter.
Oklahoma State got a first down on it next possession, but three penalties pushed the Cowboys back to their 13 before punting. Tyrone Williams' 12-yard return to the 50 set up Nebraska's next scoring drive.
Backup I-back Damon Benning rushed four times for 36 yards to help NU get to the OSU 11. But the drive stalled at the 6, so Brown kicked a 24-yard field goal to put Nebraska ahead 9-0 with 13:09 left in the second quarter.
The Husker defense chipped in next. Farley, part of the Blackshirts' long-yardage pass defense unit, intercepted OSU quarterback Tone' Jones' pass in the left flat and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. Brown's PAT boosted NU's lead to 16-0 with 11:54 to go in the half.
The teams swapped long runs on the next two possessions.
OSU's Thompson broke a third-and-10 draw play 79 yards to the Nebraska 1. He broke Farley's tackle at the line of scrimmage and sprinted across the field before Tyrone Williams tripped him.
It took two plays before tailback Andre Richardson scored from the 2. Lawson Vaughn's kick brought OSU back to 16-7 with 9:53 left in the half.
But Nebraska retaliated in 12 seconds.
On backup quarterback Brook Berringer's first play, he handed the ball on a sprint draw to Phillips.
With the running lanes to the left clogged, Phillips cut back between the hash marks and dashed 80 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion pass failed, leaving NU's lead at 22-7 with 9:41 to go.
Osborne said it appeared early that Nebraska's rebuilt offensive line, with four new starters, was in sync.
"I was pleased with the offensive line, " he said. "For the first time out there for a lot of those guys, they really played well."
After OSU went three downs and out, Nebraska stormed 71 yards in nine plays for another touchdown. Benning gained 20 more yards on three carries and Berringer added a 17-yard run before Phillips burst 27 yards on a sprint draw. Brown's kick increased Nebraska's lead to 29-7 with 4:18 to go before half.
Tomich's 11-yard sack and a 28-yard OSU punt got the Huskers in scoring position once more.
Frazier's 11-yard pass to Gilman and Schuster's 20-yard run set up Frazier's 1-yard touchdown run. Brown's PAT made it 36-7 with 59 seconds left before half.
Nebraska added two touchdowns in the first 5:01 of the third quarter.
Frazier hit Baul for a 76-yard score on the second play of the first drive to boost NU's lead to 43-7.
On the second possession, Makovicka's 33-yard run and a 19-yard Phillips sprint set up Frazier's 5-yard touchdown pass to wingback Jon Vedral for a 50-7 lead.
Oklahoma State and Nebraska traded two touchdowns each in the last 17 minutes to make the final score 64-21.
|Yards per carry||3.8||9.3|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma 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 5 games on Aug. 31. See them all »
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