NU vs Baylor

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Call off the dogs, the hunt's over.

BY CURT MC KEEVER
LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR

WACO, Texas --  By halftime of Saturday night's game, there wasn't any sport left in the Nebraska football team's 49-21 win over Baylor. 

Although no one could catch tailback Jerod Douglas on his 80-yard touchdown gallop that tied the game 7-7 early in the first
quarter, the first-unit teams of the third-ranked Cornhuskers had the Bears on the run thereafter to help them improve to 5-0
overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 Conference. 

Nebraska, the highest-ranked team to play here since No. 1 Texas did in 1970, produced touchdowns on six of its nine
first-half possessions, including five straight, to build a 42-7 lead. By then, Coach Tom Osborne had no interest in adding to
Baylor's frustration. 

A 35-yard pass play from quarterback Scott Frost to wingback Lance Brown had given Nebraska a first-and-10 at the Bears' 16 with 11 seconds to play in the half. But the Huskers didn't bother to call timeout, and gave the ball to I-back Jay Sims on a basic dive play to run out the clock. 

"They are the real deal," Baylor Coach Dave Roberts said of the Huskers. "Their linemen come out -- whew! That's a group of players." 

Many of the 38,175 in Floyd Casey Stadium -- having sat through heavy rain before the opening kickoff and drizzle throughout the first 30 minutes -- had figured that out as well, and soon headed for the exits, convinced the Huskers were a lock for their 41st straight win in the month of October (the last October loss occurred at Colorado in 1986). 

"It is pretty difficult to keep your interest up (with that kind of lead), but that's no excuse for anything," said offensive guard
Aaron Taylor. "Overall, though, I thought our first units played pretty well." 

Baylor, which entered the game with a defense ranked 94th out of 112 NCAA Division I-A teams, forced a Nebraska punt on the opening drive. But after the Bears' offense went three-and-out, the Huskers marched 38 yards in seven plays, with Ahman Green scoring his first of four first-half touchdowns, this one from three yards out, to make it 7-0 with 7:06 remaining in the first quarter. 

However, the 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior Douglas gave Baylor a charge on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, breaking
right and into the clear, and running away from free safety Eric Warfield down the Nebraska sideline to tie the score with 6:49 left in the period. Douglas' 80-yard run was the longest against the Huskers since Washington State's Frank Madu scored on
an 87-yard scamper in 1995. 

But after the Baylor defense held Green to a no gain on a fourth-and-one play from Bear's 22, Douglas fumbled a direct snap
from center and Husker defensive tackle Jason Wiltz recovered at the 15. 

Fullback Joel Makovicka took a trap into the end zone on the next play to make it 14-7 with 37 seconds to go, and the rout
was on. 

After the first quarter, the Huskers had run 25 offensive plays to Baylor's 7-yard line. 

"We kept pounding them inside," Taylor said. "Their defense was tired, and you could tell probably four or five series after we got out there." 

While Baylor's next seven offensive plays netted minus-7 yards, the Huskers needed just seven snaps to scored two more
touchdowns. 

"I think we were real flat in the first series, and it showed," Taylor said. "But the way we responded was impressive." 

The Huskers began a drive at their own 37 following a punt and clipping penalty, but on second down from the 42, Green took a quick pitch right from Frost, followed wingback Shevin Wiggins' block and cut back to his left at the Baylor 20 en route to a 58-yard score. 

Defensive tackle Jason Peter hit Douglas hard enough to force another fumble on the Bears' next play from scrimmage, and
Tony Ortiz recovered to give Nebraska the ball at the Baylor 20. Five plays later, Green plunged in from the 2 and Nebraska led 28-7 with 11:19 remaining in the half. 

After the Husker defense forced another three-and-out series, Nebraska took over at its 45. Frost then connected with Brown on a 24-yard pass and three plays later, on third-and-nine, Green took another pitch to his right, and with the help of a block from tackle Eric Anderson, scampered 30 yards into the end zone. 

Green had 18 of his 20 carries and 152 of his 158 yards in the first 30 minutes. The junior from Omaha was coming off a
193-yard, four-touchdown effort against Kansas State. 

"I think the last two weeks Ahman's been better than ever," quarterback Scott Frost said.

Nebraska finished its first-half flurry with an eight-play, 76-yard drive that reserve I-back Jay Sims capped with a 2-yard dive
that made it 42-7 with 2:00 to go. 

"We figured out we were in a football game right away, and came out playing," Frost said. 

And though Douglas' long touchdown run made things interesting -- at least temporarily -- it also served as a wakeup call to the defense. 

"We come into every game and our main priority is to shut a team out," said rush end Chad Kelsay. "When they bust a big play like that, it burns you, and the run really burns you more because we take so much pride in shutting down the run. 

"But I thought we did well the rest of the half and the first one or two series," when the first-team defense was still on the field.
"I think we focused more on not getting out of our gaps, because those guys were little, quick backs." 

By halftime, the Huskers had rolled up 378 yards of offense (312 on the ground) and limited the Bears to 96. On the 26 plays other than Douglas' touchdown run, Baylor managed just 16 yards. 

"Other than at the end of the first half, we tried to score on every possession," Osborne said. "I thought for probably the first
two and a half quarters we played well. I didn't see the execution the last quarter and a half." 

The Huskers added another score in the third-quarter -- a 1-yard run by Frost -- and turned back Baylor's only serious scoring threat of the period when freshman cornerback Erwin Swiney a Jeff Watson pass in the end zone with 5:18 left. 

Baylor did produce a touchdown against the Husker reserves with 8:54 remaining -- when Darrell Bush went in from one yard out -- then accounted for the final score on the last play when Matt Anderson fell on a Willie Miller fumble in the end zone. 

Considering No. 1 Florida lost to Louisiana State, the Huskers still figure to climb to No. 2 in the polls. But defensive
coordinator Charlie McBride did not sound overly pleased with how Nebraska looked Saturday night. 

"We're better than that," McBride said. "If you're talking about going for a national championship, Baylor doesn't put 21 points on the board." 

Osborne, however, sounded less concerned about the final score. 

"I was disappointed with how we played after we got up 49-7," he said. "(But) I think we got a good chance to look at our
second units (and) one of the problems is they haven't got a chance to play a lot lately. 

"I'm mad we didn't execute at the end, but we did a lot of good things -- more good than bad." 

 

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