College Football
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  Saturday, Sep. 2 12:30pm ET
Huskers put heat on Spartans early

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- As Nebraska's only experienced quarterback, Eric Crouch was off-limits to tacklers during fall camp.

It looked like much of the same Saturday in the No. 1 Huskers season opener, when Crouch scored three touchdowns and passed for another as Nebraska beat San Jose State 49-13.

Nebraska's Dan Alexander
Nebraska's Dan Alexander pushes aside San Jose State's Willie Adams on his way to one of two touchdowns Saturday.

The junior quarterback had only eight carries for 57 yards, but the Spartans couldn't stop him when the Huskers got close to the end zone. Crouch scored on runs of 6, 4 and 9 yards.

"If I get the ball 25 times a game and we're successful, fine. If I get the ball five times in a game, that's fine," said Crouch, who led the Huskers with 180 carries last season.

Crouch didn't need to be the leading rusher Saturday. Dan Alexander ran for 208 yards and two touchdowns and Correll Buckhalter had 117 yards on 13 carries for the Huskers, who scored on their first four possessions and didn't punt until the fourth quarter.

"It's nice to have all those running backs doing such a great job. We can be physical all game long and that takes a lot of pressure off me," Crouch said. "There weren't too many trickery plays in what we did. It was just option football -- power football. That's what we do."

Opening Act
  • Nebraska extended its NCAA record to 15 straight opening-season wins on Saturday. Here is who the Cornhuskers have beaten.
  • 1999: Iowa, 42-7
    1998: Louisiana Tech, 56-27
    1997: Akron, 59-14
    1996: Michigan State, 55-14
    1995: Oklahoma State, 64-21
    1994: West Virginia, 31-0
    1993: North Texas, 76-14
    1992: Utah, 49-22
    1991: Utah State, 59-28
    1990: Baylor, 13-0
    1989: No. Illinois, 48-17
    1988: Texas A&M, 23-14
    1987: Utah State, 56-12
    1986: Florida State, 34-17

    Nebraska wore down the smaller Spartans on an afternoon when it reached 100 degrees by the beginning of the fourth quarter and the temperature on the artificial turf was 120.

    The Huskers had 596 yards, 505 rushing, of offense while winning their 15th straight opener.

    "We pretty much had our way," center Dominic Raiola said. "We were trying for 350 or more but when you see the numbers going up like that you just don't want to stop."

    San Jose State didn't stop Nebraska in the first half until the Huskers' final possession, and that was an interception off a tipped pass.

    "That offensive unit is very, very dominant. We could not stop them all day," San Jose State coach Dave Baldwin said.

    While the offense backed up the Nebraska's No. 1 ranking, the defense did not. Nebraska has six new starters on defense and it showed early Saturday as the Huskers missed several tackles early.

    "We were disappointed with the tackling," defensive coordinator Craig Bohl said. "I do think we showed some signs of improvement during the course of the game, but there's no doubt we've got to be a better tackling football team."

    The Spartans gained 346 yards and had three apparent touchdowns nullified because of penalties. Nebraska had trouble stopping Deonce Whitaker, a speedy 5-foot-6 senior, who rushed for 147 yards, 121 in the first half.

    Marcus Arroyo was 10-for-23 with two touchdowns for San Jose State.

    "We tried to spread things out and do things that make us a tough first game," Baldwin said. "They came right after us. I don't know if they have a weakness."

    Nebraska was never threatened, but didn't put the game away until the second half when Alexander broke free on an option for a 56-yard run. Crouch added a 9-yard touchdown run late in the third for a 42-13 lead and the starting backfield was done for the day.

    Crouch, who had surgery on his throwing shoulder in January, was just 4-of-10 for 67 yards with two interceptions. But Crouch had no trouble leading the option attack.

    Crouch accounted for Nebraska's first two touchdown runs and a 27-yard TD pass to Tracey Wistrom. Each scoring play capped an 80-yard drive.

    The Huskers' longest drive of the first half, 97 yards, opened with Buckhalter's 26-yard run and ended on a 1-yard dive by Alexander that gave the Huskers a 28-6 halftime lead.

    Whitaker opened San Jose State's first possession with a 6-yard run, then sprung free for 69 yards to set up a first-and-goal from the 7, but the Huskers were able to avoid giving up a touchdown. Two penalties pushed the Spartans back, then Nick Gilliam's 29-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the right upright.

    The Spartans got to the Nebraska 8 on their next possession and scored on a pass in the flat from Arroyo to An Truong that cut Nebraska's lead to 14-6 when the extra-point try was blocked.

    Arroyo brought San Jose State within 35-13 on a 19-yard pass to Rashied Davis after Josh Parry's interception gave the Spartans the ball at the Nebraska 21.



    San Jose State Clubhouse

    Nebraska Clubhouse