NU vs Kansas
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|BY KEN HAMBLETON
Lincoln Journal Star
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Honest. It was a dark and stormy night.
And to add to the cliche, Nebraska notched a 35-0 victory against Kansas Saturday night before 42,000 rain-soaked, wind-blown fans at KU's Memorial Stadium.
The No. 1-ranked Huskers posted their 29th straight win and ninth shutout against Kansas since 1968. When Nebraska punches the time-clock for playing Kansas, the result almost seems inevitable.
The Huskers' seventh win of the season:
Guaranteed another in Nebraska's string of 36 consecutive winning seasons;
Gave Coach Tom Osborne his 249th victory;
Extended Nebraska's conference regular-season winning streak to 35 games; and
Marked the 19th time in NU history under Osborne that Nebraska is 4-0 in the conference and 10th time in 25 years his team is 7-0.
Those items are repeated often enough and often at the doorstep of the Kansas football team.
For many, it would be a resume of gallant achievement. For Nebraska, just another day, another win and another week at No. 1 in the polls.
"It was not spectacular but solid," said Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne. "Is 35-0 enough to stay No. 1? I don't know. I'll never understand the polls."
Osborne was defensive about his offense, saying, "This was not an easy night to play offense, and we figured that our defense should stop their offense.
"All together, that's a good win. But like I said, nothing spectacular."
Nebraska earned its second consecutive shutout (NU defeated Texas Tech 29-0 last week) without ever backing into its half of the field on defense.
Kansas finished with just 48 yards in offense -- only 15 more yards than Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost threw for with just four completions.
Nebraska's Grant Wistrom and Jason Peter hit Kansas quarterback Zac Wegner for five tackles behind the line for losses of 29 yards.
Nebraska nose guard Steve Warren, playing in place of suspended Jason Wiltz, tacked on another quarterback sack and the Huskers finished the game with 11 tackles for 47 yards in losses.
Kansas had a few brief moments that were better than the final statistics showed.
The Jayhawks, 4-4 and previously unbeaten at home this year, stymied the Nebraska offense throughout the third quarter, blocked a punt in the first quarter and held Frost to his lowest passing output of the season.
The problem for the Jayhawks, who have been felled 29 times in a row by Nebraska by an average score of 46-7, was that the third-quarter defensive stand was sandwiched by Nebraska's 21-point burst to start the game and a 14-point flurry in the fourth quarter.
The blocked punt was scooped up by Nebraska fullback Joel Makovicka and returned 38 yards for a Nebraska first down.
And as for holding Frost to 33 yards passing, the Huskers countered with 382 yards rushing, 123 by Ahman Green, 121 from Frost and 82 from Makovicka.
After taking a 21-0 lead, Nebraska's offense was sent from the game three downs and out four times in a row, and stopped on a fifth possession on fourth-and-3.
"Some of that is Kansas' defense, lining up nine guys and knowing this was not a night to pass," said Frost. "Passing was all we could have done in some of those cases, but it just wasn't in the plan with the weather the way it was.
"I also missed on some options, made a mistake here and there and got a little frustrated," he said. "We knew we should movethe ball better than that."
The Huskers, who lead the NCAA in total offense, snapped out of the slump with a 48-yard, seven-play drive that ended with Frost scoring on a 14-yard bootleg run around the left end to pad the lead to 28-0 with 13:42 left.
Green then scored to end a 40-yard drive with 9:42 left for the final score.
"How many points and how many yards?" Nebraska offensive line coach Milt Tenopir said. "Sure, there were some drives in the third quarter that were duds. But by the end, we got a lot of scoring and a lot of yards and we did all right on a pretty bad night to try and play offense.
"The name of the game is that you guess a lot. We guessed right at the start of the game and at the end of the game. They guessed right in the third quarter."
Despite some offensive sluggishness, the Husker defense was dominant throughout.
Kansas had 1 yard of offense in the first quarter. The Jayhawks had a total of minus 19 yards by halftime. They managed to tie the Huskers with 32 yards of offense in the third quarter, with the help of a 15-yard run by Eric Vann and a 6-yard pass.
On KU's longest drive of the night -- 21 yards in three plays in the fourth quarter -- Nebraska's Erwin Swiney recovered a fumble to end the attack.
"How do you get better from back-to-back shutouts?" said NU defen- sive coordinator Charlie McBride. "We got a lot of things we can do. We can always play better. But tonight, I don't know if there was a position where we didn't have a very good performance on defense."
Kansas Coach Terry Allen agreed.
"The thing we were afraid of going in was what Nebraska has done the last few weeks defensively," the first-year KU coach said. "They really showed their superiority on the defensive end of the ball."
The Huskers dominated the first half with 220 yards rushing and another 33 yards passing compared to a total offense of minus19 yards offense for Kansas.
The Jayhawks could never mount a charge as Wegner was tagged six times for minus 41 yards in losses with sacks by Wistrom, Peter, Warren and Eric Johnson.
Nebraska took care of business offensively in first half. Green rushed 17 times for 102 yards, while Makovicka scored twice and picked up 68 yards. Frost gained 50 yards rushing in the first half.
Makovicka gained 38 yards when Jason Harris blocked a punt by Nebraska's Jesse Kosch and Makovicka scooped up the ball and raced to the Kansas 32-yard line.
"We're going to have to congratulate him for helping save the shut- out," said Peter. "That was a big play, but Joel is a big-play guy for the offense. Tonight, he made one for the defense."
The Huskers scored on their first drive with a 12-play, 71-yard effort that included 10 rushes for 65 yards and one pass from Frost to Lance Brown. Makovicka scored on a 5-yard dive play behind guard Aaron Taylor and tackle Fred Pollack.
The Huskers tacked on another six-play, 54-yard scoring drive that was capped on a 27-yard touchdown run by Frost on a quarterback draw.
Nebraska made it 21-0 when Makovicka scored on an 18-yard run early in the second quarter after Green gained 44 yards on two runs during the drive.
The two banks of lights went out soon after and following a seven-minute delay, the game was resumed.