LINCOLN — In years gone by, a quick 17-0 Nebraska lead on Kansas was usually the first sign of another lopsided beating.
On Saturday night, it was just the start of a wild night at Memorial Stadium.
No. 21-ranked Nebraska blew all of that lead, wasted another chance to finish KU and didn't claim its 39-32 victory until I-back Cody Glenn scored in overtime and a fourth-down KU pass fell incomplete.
If this was any indication of what it's going to take to win the Big 12 North, fasten the seat belts right now.
"It became a dogfight,'' NU coach Bill Callahan said. "You'll get into those types of situations in conference competition. That's the nature of the North Division.''
Callahan sounded more relieved than anything as he rehashed the Huskers' close call. Relief inevitably will give way to some concern once the NU staff sits down to study what happened after the first quarter Saturday night.
The Nebraska defense allowed a stunning 542 total yards in the second, third and fourth combined. Blame was placed on miscommunication and mental breakdowns, and not fatigue, even though Kansas ran 94 plays from scrimmage.
The offense wasn't very steady, and committed a season-high three turnovers, but made up for it with Zac Taylor pass plays of 73, 75 and 78 yards — two of them to Frantz Hardy.
"We should have put them out of the game when we had the lead, '' Hardy said. "But we found a way. That's what it's about — find a way.''
Kansas showed its newfound moxie by forgetting what happened in the first quarter and besting the Huskers for much of the next three. Thumbing its nose at a crowd of 85,069 — in a place where it hadn't won since 1968 — KU gained 574 total yards on the Huskers and nearly overcame a brutal number of mistakes.
And when the Jayhawks shoved an 11-play, 81-yard drive down NU's throat in the final four minutes of regulation for a 32-32 tie, a major upset became a major possibility.
In overtime, Nebraska (4-1 overall, 1-0 Big 12) needed just three plays to score first. After a 21-yard pass from Taylor to Nate Swift took the Huskers to the 1-yard line, Glenn hit a huge hole on the left side to score the game-winning touchdown.
"Anyone could have scored on that,'' Glenn said. "The offensive line told me to follow them, and I did. Even if there were three guys there, I was going to get in.''
Kansas wasn't through scrapping and converted a fourth-andone on its possession. It failed on another fourth-down try, though, when Adam Barmann's final pass was out of Marcus Henry's reach on a fade route to the left corner of the end zone.
"We're not playing horseshoes, so close doesn't count,'' KU coach Mark Mangino said. "We're disappointed that we lost, but I can't help but to tell you that I am very proud of my football team. They did a great job . . . just came up short.''
Kansas (3-2, 0-1) managed to trim the 17-0 deficit to 24-10 at halftime. By the break, the Jayhawks already had four turnovers and two dropped passes in the end zone, and they had helped Nebraska by making mistakes or misplays in the secondary that allowed Taylor touchdown passes of 75 yards to Terrence Nunn and 78 to Hardy.
Taylor and Glenn lost fumbles coming out of halftime, and Kansas turned those into a touchdown and a field goal, making it 24-19. The Jayhawks even led briefly in the fourth quarter at 25-24 when Barmann threw a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Derek Fine with 6:32 left.
Taylor followed with his 75-yard TD pass to Hardy, a third-and-18 play on which the ball was underthrown. Hardy waited on it, shook KU cornerback Blake Bueltel and regained the lead for the Huskers.
Calmly, Kansas marched back with another efficient drive, piling more and more yards on the Husker defense. The game-tying touchdown came on Barmann's 26-yard pass to Brian Murph with 46 seconds left.
"The entire game had a myriad of circumstances and situations that you'd normally take a whole season to go through,'' Callahan said. "I'm just proud of the resiliency of our football team in the way we came back and fought back and took the lead. And to fight through overtime was terrific.''
The teams combined for more than 1,000 total yards and seven turnovers. In improving to 5-0 all-time in overtime games, Nebraska also gained revenge for the 40-15 loss in Lawrence last year that stopped its 36-game winning streak in the series.
"We're 1-0 in conference play,'' said Taylor, who completed 15 of 33 passes for 395 yards and four touchdowns. "Whether you win by 60 or by one point, it's all the same.''
|Yards per carry||4.2||3.6|
Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.
|Louisiana Tech||Sept. 2|
|Nicholls State||Sept. 9|
|Troy (formerly Troy State)||Sept. 23|
|Iowa State||Oct. 7|
|Kansas State||Oct. 14|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 28|
|Texas A&M||Nov. 11|
Nebraska has played 12 games on Sept. 30. See them all »
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