LINCOLN — Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz finished the unlikely scramble with the exclamation point that the Huskers hadn't stamped on anybody in quite some time.
Ganz took off on fourth-and-20, reached the first-down marker, lowered his shoulder and got a few bonus yards by running over Kansas State safety Gary Chandler.
Symbolic? The ultimate release of fury and frustration, and everything that goes with losing five straight football games?
Nah, Ganz said after the Huskers' 73-31 win over Kansas State on Saturday. Just the competitor coming out in him.
Ganz, though, could see how that might fit.
"I think guys are just sick of it, really," he said. "I think they're just sick of hearing how bad we are. We just came out and we unleashed it."
If there were going to be accusations of running up the score Saturday at Memorial Stadium, it would have been hard to imagine them being made against Nebraska. The Huskers hadn't won since September and had been outscored 226-98 in their worst skid in 50 seasons.
But when you're trying to perform CPR on your season, you don't stop until the heartbeat is back where it should be.
"I think when you have a season like we've had, down every game and losing big, you just want to go out there and score points and score as many times as you can," NU receiver Nate Swift said. "I wouldn't say it's anything against K-State or anything like that — they're a great team — but I think we just wanted to go let loose and score as many as we could."
Never mind NU coach Bill Callahan and the ever-shaky ground he's standing on in Lincoln. This was about his players, and in particular the 29 seniors playing their final home game before a crowd of 84,665.
That's why Callahan said he got out of the way afterward, heading directly for the tunnel as the Huskers stayed out to sing the school fight song and hug a few times.
"That's a big win," I-back Marlon Lucky said. "Who's not going to smile?"
They cheered loudly for Ganz, the junior who set NU single-game records by passing for 510 yards and seven touchdowns in his second career start. They showed appreciation for seniors Bo Ruud, Cortney Grixby and Maurice Purify, who walked off savoring the moment for once.
"We thought we'd forgot how to win," Grixby said.
It's not clear what button was pushed, but NU (5-6, 2-5 Big 12) finally got untracked. One week after allowing 76 points to Kansas, the Huskers scored 73.
After punting on its first possession, Nebraska scored on its next 11 (10 touchdowns, one field goal). On the four possessions coming out of halftime, NU called pass plays on 31 of 34 snaps as its lead ballooned from 38-10 to 66-17, although four of those turned into either a scramble or a sack.
"We just kept playing," Callahan said. "I didn't think about the score. I thought our kids did a nice job of just wanting to go out and execute. You get one of those days where everything clicks . . . it's a good feeling."
Kansas State coach Ron Prince lodged no complaint afterwards, his own team now stuck in a three-game losing skid and realizing it may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time Saturday.
"That's not his job. That's my job to stop him," Prince said. "I don't believe in that. You'll never hear me talk about those things. His job is to coach his team as hard as he can, and my job is to try to stop him and coach mine."
Nebraska stayed out of trouble right away with the help of Grixby's 94-yard kickoff return, which was sandwiched between a Kansas State touchdown and field goal.
Grixby hit the middle, picked his way through traffic and became the first Husker to run back a kickoff for a touchdown since Joe Walker in 1998. The senior cornerback had come into the game averaging 24.4 yards per return, third best in the Big 12.
Nebraska later turned a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ganz to Lucky into a 14-10 lead with 32 seconds left in the first quarter. The Huskers had trailed going into the second quarter in six previous Big 12 games.
NU then dominated the second, netting three touchdowns and a field goal out of four possessions. Most unexpected was the score that came after the Huskers took over with 22 seconds left on their own 46-yard line.
Ganz fired a completion of 31 yards to Todd Peterson, then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 16 seconds remaining. On the next play, Ganz hit Peterson on a 23-yard TD for a 38-10 lead with eight seconds to go.
Ganz completed 11 of 14 first-half passes, with seven completions going for at least 20 yards.
|Yards per carry||3.9||4.9|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
|Wake Forest||Sept. 8|
|Ball State||Sept. 22|
|Iowa State||Sept. 29|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 13|
|Texas A&M||Oct. 20|
|Kansas State||Nov. 10|
Nebraska has played 19 games on Nov. 10. See them all »
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