LAWRENCE, Kan. — It's official: Nebraska doesn't own anybody anymore.
The erosion of NU football dominance continued Saturday in another unlikely place, against a team that had spent more than three decades letting the Huskers kick sand in its face.
The bully now has another black eye, a .500 two-year record under its head coach and rising doubts about what's happening to Big Red.
That's what goes along with a 40-15 loss to Kansas.
"It's going to be perceived very bad,'' NU cornerback Cortney Grixby admitted. "When things aren't going right, you're going to hear about it. When things are up, everybody's happy. That comes with the game we play.''
Before Saturday, Nebraska had beaten Kansas 36 straight times, the second-longest active streak by one NCAA Division I-A team over another. Other than the run of home sellouts, it was the last remaining streak from an impressive batch that began in the 1960s and 1970s and took years to build.
How this one went down, though, has to bring questions about the progress and development of a program that made a change because it feared mediocrity — and now is mired in it.
Kansas stung Nebraska for 428 total yards, well over the 251.2 it averaged in its other five Big 12 Conference games. The Huskers countered with 138 yards, an average quarter for Nebraska during one of those old-time 56-17 wins over the Jayhawks.
Throw in another miserable start by NU, a blocked punt that KU turned into a touchdown and a 100-yard Husker kickoff return by Marlon Lucky that was negated by a penalty and, well, you get the picture.
Kansas coach Mark Mangino said he was sick of hearing about the streak and his team did something about it before a record crowd of 51,750 at Memorial Stadium. Despite Mangino's request that fans leave the goal posts alone should KU win, revelers tore them down with impressive efficiency.
A few Huskers paused on their way off the field to watch, then went inside the locker room to digest their third straight loss and fourth in five games.
"It's embarrassing,'' NU quarterback Zac Taylor said. "You don't want to go on the road and lose 40-15 to a team with a losing record. There is a lot of tradition at Nebraska. We didn't want that streak to end.''
About going on the road: Nebraska (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) is 1-2 this season away from Lincoln, and just 2-6 in head coach Bill Callahan's two seasons. Toughness has been an issue in more than a few game that have turned ugly.
"It's not good,'' said Callahan, now toting a 10-10 record at NU. "It's God-awful, in my opinion. It's disturbing to me. It bothers me.
"We play so well at home. I see all that juice at home. We come on the road and we get in a foreign territory, and I didn't see it. I don't see it.''
Particularly bothersome Saturday for Nebraska was that it trailed just 17-15 midway through the third quarter after Iback Cory Ross' 1-yard touchdown run.
It then gave that TD back in just two plays as Kansas tailback Jon Cornish broke a 72-yard run. From there, the Jayhawks (5-4, 2-4) almost made a mockery of things, getting a safety, a 12-play scoring drive and a 40-yard interception return by linebacker Kevin Kane.
Not only did Kansas notch its first win over Nebraska since 1968, it scored more points on the Huskers than it did in any of the teams' previous 111 all-time meetings.
"It is a great feeling,'' said KU quarterback Jason Swanson, whose 215 passing yards included two touchdowns to Mark Simmons. "A lot of people came up to me and gave me hugs, saying, 'Thank you.' It was like I was doing them a favor.''
Nebraska went into the second quarter without a first down for the second consecutive week. That dug the Huskers their usual hole as Kansas scored on its opening drive, capped by Swanson's 40-yard scoring pass to Simmons on a third-and-10 slant pattern.
The slant worked several times. So did the cutback runs against the Nebraska defense that helped both Cornish and Clark Green have 100-yard rushing games.
"We were expecting it,'' NU linebacker Bo Ruud said. "Guys just overran.''
Kansas led 14-2 after Ronnie Amadi blocked a Husker punt and Darren Rus returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. Nebraska appeared to answer with Marlon Lucky's 100-yard kickoff return, but Lance Brandenburgh was penalized for a block in the back.
It was that kind of day. It's becoming that kind of a season.
"This is way worse than any loss we've had this year,'' Ruud said. "We should have won this game. We just played really bad. That's all it was. Just a bad effort. I think our mindset was right, but we just played awful.''
Ruud might have worked "worst,'' "bad'' and "awful'' into a six-sentence span, but offensive coordinator Jay Norvell topped him in describing the Huskers' offensive play.
"It's embarrassing,'' Norvell said. "It's absolutely embarrassing. There's only one way to see it. It was absolutely sick.''
|Yards per carry||4.8||1.0|
Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.
|Wake Forest||Sept. 10|
|Iowa State||Oct. 1|
|Texas Tech||Oct. 8|
|Kansas State||Nov. 12|
Nebraska has played 21 games on Nov. 5. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group