NU vs Iowa State
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From famine to feastBY KEN HAMBLETON
Lincoln Journal Star
Nebraska football was frozen in time with "The Catch" in "The Game" last week at Columbia, Mo.
Only the fans and the Iowa State defense froze this week, as the Cornhuskers flashed into warp speed and burned Iowa State 77-14 Saturday before 75,613 shivering fans at Memorial Stadium.
"After last week, we needed a day like this," said Nebraska senior defensive tackle Jason Peter.
Nebraska led 21-0 less than five minutes into the game.
Instead of calling plays to save precious seconds on the clock to set up a daring, wacky play like he did last week against Missouri, Coach Tom Osborne debated whether his quarterback should kneel down or simply dive up the middle at the end of the first half in Nebraska's demolition of Iowa State.
Nebraska led 63-7 at halftime.
"Both games were fun," said Nebraska I-back Ahman Green, who frolicked in rushing for 209 yards and three touchdowns. "Last week, nobody knew. It was a teeth-grinder. This week, we got things rolling and you can't stop us when that happens."
Quarterback Scott Frost ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns and hit 8 of 9 passes for 111 yards and another touchdown in the merriment of Nebraska's last home game of the season.
There was no contest between 10-0 Nebraska, winner of the Big 12 North Division, and 1-9 Iowa State, victim of a vengeful Husker team. Nebraska locked up a berth in the Big 12 playoff Dec. 6 in the AlamoDome at San Antonio.
The Huskers seemed in a hurry to get there. They had 35 points in just 16 plays in the first quarter.
"We beat them up," said senior guard Matt Hoskinson. "We were mad about a close game last week. We were bigger, stronger and faster. They were weak. They are trying to build a program. We've already got one. We took it to them and they gave up."
Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney didn't argue.
"We were absolutely ineffective on both sides of the ball in the first half," he said. "When people are putting up that many points and we're that ineffective, then it's our fault -- not theirs."
The Cyclones scored twice and finished with 228 yards of offense. Most of those yards came against Nebraska reserves.
The Huskers had six players account for nine rushing touchdowns, scored on a 53-yard punt return by freshman Bobby Newcombe and could even afford to have two drives stop at the Iowa State 2-yard line. Nebraska had three one-play scoring drives.
The Huskers made it look easy.
"I was getting hit by defensive backs and safeties and that's very bad for the defense," Green said. "That means I'm getting great big holes to run through and getting 10 or 11 yards before I got hit. I kept running, we kept scoring and we showed we were up there fighting for it in the polls."
By the time the first quarter was less than half completed, the Huskers had a 28-0 lead. Iowa State scored a touchdown, but Nebraska scored on its next five possessions.
Everybody got a chance to play. Osborne benched the starters for good with 11:44 left in the third quarter. A total of 105 Huskers saw action.
Osborne patiently waited for the few questions he faced after the game.
"This is the quietest I've ever heard you guys," he said to the postgame press conference.
McCarney didn't have any questions either.
"We feel like that is the best football team in America," he said. "There is just no doubt in my mind that that is the finest college football team in the country. They are a great, great football team."
Nebraska's defense was equal to the offense in performance. The Huskers had nine tackles for losses, three quarterback sacks, eight passes broken up, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Iowa State quarterback Todd Bandhauer, who helped the Cyclones to the Big 12 lead in passing, was hounded by Peter, battered by Grant Wistrom, rattled by Chad Kelsay and knocked down by Derek Allen, Steve Warren, Mike Rucker and Eric Johnson.
"It was really important to have the defense get down to business today," said Charlie McBride, Nebraska defensive coordinator. "I thought, except for one pass play, which was completely blown coverage, we played well. We put the heat on the quarterback, played the run well and I thought that overall we accomplished what we set out to do."
By the time Nebraska finished introducing the 23 seniors and people settled into their seats, Peter forced Bandhauer into two incomplete passes and Iowa State punted. In just over a minute, Green rushed for 13 yards, Joel Makovicka ran for five, Frost scampered 15 and Green scored on an 18-yard run.
When ISU got the ball again, Peter caught Darren Davis for a 2-yard loss, Nebraska freshman Erwin Swiney knocked away a Bandhauer pass, Iowa State punted and Newcombe raced 53 yards past six Cyclones to score on the punt return with the game just over three minutes old.
Iowa State found a solution to Newcombe's returns. Iowa State's Kevin Wilson slammed Newcombe and took a penalty the next two times the Nebraska freshman fielded ed a punt.
"I got my bell rung, but I guess it worked because I couldn't return the punts," Newcombe said.
The solution for stopping the Nebraska running game didn't come until the third quarter, when backup quarterback Frankie London lost a fumble at the ISU 2 and was then stopped on a keeper.
In between, Green had six gains of 15 yards or more and averaged 13.9 yards a carry. Frost averaged 11 yards a carry, and Newcombe, who carried twice, scored on a 16-yard run and averaged 15.5 yards a carry.
"We got a lot on the inside power plays, the counter traps and the 41 and 49 pitch plays, which we run every game," Green said. "I could have kept going but the score was getting kind of high and we had to get some playing time to the other guys.
"The offensive line has been like that all year -- getting the big holes and all you have to do is get there. I just figured all I had to do was get through the hole and get to the end zone."
Green did that three times in the first quarter.
The effort was good enough to make the Huskers think they are ready to take on Colorado at Boulder in two weeks.
"Today's game is over and it doesn't matter anymore," Green said. "Now we just need to focus on playing Colorado, because we know they've been ready to play us all season. We're ready, too."