LINCOLN — Nebraska handled Iowa State with the customary greatest of ease Saturday night.
The fourth-ranked Huskers built a six-touchdown lead after one half before settling for a 48-14 Big 12 Conference victory that extended their streak of home wins over the Cyclones to 12. The last four have come in dominating fashion, with Nebraska outscoring Iowa State 247-56.
"It was complete domination by Nebraska in the first half," said Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney, now 0-7 in his meetings with the Huskers. "We didn't block. We didn't tackle. We didn't do anything on special teams. We didn't do a good job of coaching. They were all over us.
"When you are down like that, it is no fun to play or coach in a game like that."
As McCarney well knows. In his four trips to Memorial Stadium, McCarney has found himself making halftime speeches to teams that have given up a total of 170 points to Nebraska while scoring just 14.
The Cyclones didn't score in the first 30 minutes Saturday while surrendering 41 points. That put Nebraska's 244th consecutive sellout crowd of 78,002 in a festive mood. The turnout witnessed what Coach Frank Solich called the most dominant first-half performance by a Nebraska team that improved to 6-0 with its eighth straight win.
"It was as complete a first half as we've played in terms of offense, defense and special teams," Solich said. "In the second half we lost a little momentum. We tried to get a little too cute in some cases. We should have just probably run the ball a couple of times as we got down close to the end zone."
After scoring on five of six offensive possessions in the first half, Nebraska managed just one touchdown in the final 30 minutes. That came on Robin Miller's 1-yard run with 1:08 to play, bringing an end to a drive that ate more than 8 minutes off the clock.
None of Nebraska's first half scores took nearly that long, with cornerback Keyuo Craver getting the first on a 57-yard interception return for a touchdown two minutes into the game. Nebraska's longest scoring drive of the opening half came when it took quarterback Eric Crouch three minutes and 54 seconds to guide the Huskers on a 92-yard march.
Crouch ended that possessions with a 25-yard run, one of his four touchdowns in another record-setting night for the senior from Omaha. The four scores boosted his career total for rushing touchdowns to 51, two more than the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback that had been held by Ohio University's Kareem Wilson.
Crouch's career total also eclipsed the school record of 49 rushing touchdowns that was held by 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier. Crouch enhanced his Heisman candidacy by rushing for 104 yards and completing 10 of 14 passes for 110 more.
"Eric Crouch is as good as there is in college football," McCarney said. "He is a legitimate Heisman candidate. He is as good as I have ever coached against."
Solich won't argue.
"He had another great ballgame," Solich said. "When you look at how he ran the ball in the first half, that was critical to us in terms of keeping drives alive and keeping the game moving. We used him as an I - back pretty much throughout the first half.
"I thought Eric showed his quickness, his speed and just great ability to make play after play in the running game."
Crouch gained 100 of his rushing yards on 13 first-half carries. I-backs Dahrran Diedrick, Josh Davis and Thunder Collins combined for 13 carries in the first 30 minutes, producing 124 yards.
"We came out, established our power game and ran the ball when we needed to," Crouch said. "I think the offense was almost unstoppable in the first half. We were motivated to work together.
"I think everyone had the mentality that we were going to go out there, against a pretty good defense, and put points on the board. That's what we did."
The Cyclones managed to outscore Nebraska 14-7 in the second half Saturday, but that should do little to bolster McCarney's claim that his team deserves to be considered for a spot in the national rankings.
McCarney campaigned last week after Iowa State had opened its season with victories over Northern Iowa, Ohio University and Baylor. But that opening run of wins left Iowa State unprepared for the first-half blitz that Nebraska unleashed on the Cyclones.
Diedrick added 107 yards on 15 carries as Nebraska finished with a 476-336 edge in total yardage. A good portion of the Cyclones' total came thanks to some third-down heroics by quarterback Seneca Wallace, who scored Iowa State's first touchdown on a 17-yard run and passed 13 yards to Lance Young for the second score.
Wallace, coming off a performance that saw him complete 22 of 24 passes against Baylor, passed for 214 yards and rushed for 45 more against the Huskers. Nebraska did hold Big 12 rushing leader Ennis Haywood to 61 yards, 71 fewer than he had averaged in Iowa State's first three games.
Wallace completed 13 of 29 passes, but had two intercepted, the first igniting Nebraska to its dominant first-half showing. Keyuo Craver picked off Wallace's third pass of the game and jetted 57 yards down the near sideline for the score that put Nebraska ahead less than two minutes into the game.
Crouch then led Nebraska to scores on all five of its first-half possessions to build the lead to 41-0 at the break.
Diedrick's 2-yard run midway through the first quarter capped a 49-yard Nebraska drive that made it 14-0. Wallace's second interception of the game set up Nebraska's next score, which came on Crouch's 1-yard scoring run with 1:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Nebraska poured it on in the second quarter, driving 87, 92 and 10 yards for Crouch touchdowns. His 4-yard run capped the 87-yard, eight-play march that featured a 45-yard run by I-back Thunder Collins.
Crouch's 22-yard pass to split end Wilson Thomas and shovel-pass completions of 11 and 10 yards to Collins were among the key plays on the 92-yard drive. Crouch then ended the march with a nifty 25-yard scoring run that gave him his 50th career rushing touchdown.
Troy Hassebroek set up Nebraska's final score of the first half when he blocked a punt that Lornell McPherson recovered and returned 5 yards to the Iowa State 10-yard line. Crouch scored on a 1-yard sneak four plays later.
Iowa State finally got its offense in gear in the third quarter, with Wallace driving the Cyclones 76 and 65 yards for touchdowns. He capped the first with a winding 17 - yard scoring run, reversing his field and outracing the Nebraska defense to the end zone.
Iowa State's second touchdown came with 1:44 left in the third period when Wallace hooked up with Young on a 13-yard scoring pass. Nebraska closed the scoring with 1:08 to play when Robin Miller scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run.
|Yards per carry||3.2||6.6|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|Troy (formerly Troy State)||Sept. 1|
|Notre Dame||Sept. 8|
|Iowa State||Oct. 6|
|Texas Tech||Oct. 20|
|Kansas State||Nov. 10|
|Miami (FL)||Jan. 3|
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