LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- The Nebraska defense sent Texas Tech a
message by roughing quarterback Kliff Kingsbury on the second snap.
When the Huskers came away with his right sleeve, everyone
understood they meant business.
The Cornhuskers emphatically proved they're No. 1 again and plan
to keep it this time by crushing the Red Raiders 56-3 on Saturday
Although Nebraska (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) gained 540 yards and scored
its most points in 32 games, it was the defense that deserves the
most credit for handing Tech (5-2, 1-2) the worst loss in its
"We went out there with an attitude and purpose, we went out
there relentless," linebacker Carlos Polk said. "From the opening
play, we wanted to make a statement."
After a one-week stint at No. 2 -- moving up only because Florida
State lost, not because their play improved -- the Cornhuskers
responded with their most complete game of the season.
Eric Crouch ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, all in
the first half, and the defense held the Red Raiders to 200 yards,
289 below their average.
"We played how we are capable of playing," said Dan Alexander,
who ran for 120 yards.
Especially the defense, which went from inconsistent to
The renowned Blackshirts struggled the last three weeks as Notre
Dame took them to overtime, Missouri played a tight first half and
Iowa State was within one in the third quarter.
This time, the Cornhuskers plowed through Tech's young blockers
and rattled Kingsbury from the start, pressuring him into
interceptions to end his first two drives.
"I got a couple hits on the quarterback right before he threw
it and he came up cursing a few times," Polk said. "After a
while, it's going to take a toll."
Joe Walker returned the second interception 19 yards for
Nebraska's first touchdown. Two plays later, nose tackle Jason Lohr
sacked Kingsbury and ripped the right sleeve off the quarterback's
black undershirt in the process.
Lohr triumphantly held up his prize, then threw it down.
Kingsbury had to have a teammate tuck the stringy remains into his
Sufficiently spooked, Kingsbury's next five completions went a
total of 5 yards. While short passes are a staple in coach Mike
Leach's quick-strike offense, some of these -- like the one on
third-and-17 -- were ridiculous.
The futility of the dump-and-dance approach was emphasized on
Tech's final play of the second quarter: a 14-yard gain on
fourth-and-15. It was the only time the Red Raiders crossed
midfield in the first half.
"We thought we could throw some quick passes and really work
that area, but they covered great," said Kingsbury, who was
20-of-37 for 165 yards, which is usually his halftime total. "They
just played everything we did really well."
Tech came in thinking upset because of a hot passing game, a
defense that was allowing 9.8 points per game and a sense that
Nebraska was vulnerable.
It sure didn't work out that way. The Huskers led 28-0 at
halftime en route to crushing the Red Raiders' nine-game winning
streak at Jones Stadium.
"We never really got control mentally," Leach said. "We came
out intense and tried really hard, but it was blind misdirection.
We wanted to win, maybe too much."
Tech's lone points came on a 41-yard field goal by Chris
Birkholz on the opening drive of the second half. The best chance
for a touchdown fizzled when a 50-yard bomb to wide-open Shaud
Williams bounced off his facemask.
The Red Raiders hadn't faced an option offense all season and,
despite good speed, couldn't keep up with Nebraska. A three-and-out
series to start the game and a Huskers fumble on the next drive
offered Tech hope, but Nebraska ended up with only one more punt
and one more turnover.
Crouch, who was so banged up by Iowa State that he missed a
practice this week, ran 12 times for 52 yards and was 6-of-12
passing for 86 more in three quarters. Replacement Jamal Lord led
Nebraska to touchdowns on all three of his drives, the last capped
by an 8-yard run of his own.
It had been a good day for Leach as the offense he installed at
Oklahoma helped the No. 8 Sooners beat No. 2 Kansas State 41-31. By
halftime, his mood matched the stormy weather that swirled around
the stadium. He angrily paced the sideline and got so frustrated by
an official's call that he slammed down his headset.
The lightning and ugly clouds that threatened to delay the game
passed early in the third quarter. When the forecast was announced,
there was only a smattering of applause -- probably from the
red-clad Nebraska fans who blended in with the red-clad Red Raiders
The Nebraska backers were louder at the outset of the fourth
quarter as their call-and-respond chant of "Husker!" "Power!"
serenaded the thousands of Tech fans heading for the exits.
Nebraska slipped to No. 2 two weeks ago following the
unimpressive victory over Missouri. The Cornhuskers moved back into
the top spot after Florida State fell to Miami last week. The
Seminoles' loss gave the Huskers the nation's longest winning
streak, which is now up to 12.
Thirteen should be disgustingly easy next week when Baylor,
which hasn't scored in two games, visits Lincoln. Then Nebraska
goes to Oklahoma for a matchup of Big 12 division leaders and the
first mouth-watering matchup of the longtime rivals in many years.
The Huskers play Kansas State three weeks later.
"I think a lot of people were questioning us," safety Troy
Watchorn said. "This game was a huge step in the right
Tech -- which has the misfortune of playing at K-State next
Saturday -- fell to 0-5 against No. 1 teams and 0-6 against
|Nebraska's Eric Crouch ran for two TDs and passed for another in the first half Saturday.|
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