LINCOLN -- Two blocked field goals in the first half of a 37-0 game wouldn't appear to be the deciding factor, but Nebraska's players and coaches might disagree. Cornhusker rush end Kyle Vanden Bosch blocked two field-goal attempts by Texas A&M;'s Terence Kitchens -- one of 29 yards and another from 31 -- as NU foiled two early Aggie scoring chances and went on to record the win Saturday.
"Those were very important in the early stages," Nebraska head coach Frank Solich said of Vanden Bosch's blocks. "That kept them from getting the momentum and put it back in our court. If they get a couple of field goals there and go up 6-0, they're feeling pretty good about themselves and it's tough for us."
The Huskers had an idea that they might be able to block a Kitchens attempt. The A&M; place-kicker has made 15 of 23 field-goal attempts this season, but seven of his eight misses have been blocks, including the two by Nebraska.
Vanden Bosch, who teams with Dion Booker as the "jumpers" on Nebraska's field-goal defensive unit, said it comes down to a combination of luck and skill. "It's just kind of a deal where you jump up and hope that it's coming at you," Vanden Bosch said. "I just got lucky I guess."
Vanden Bosch's feat may have been luck, but Husker rover Mike Brown said it certainly turned out good for Nebraska.
"They had the ball in our backyard and couldn't score," Brown said. "I think Kyle Vanden Bosch blocking that ball was the biggest play of the game, no doubt."
Crouch Breaks Out
After being bottled up as a runner in the past two games, Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch broke out against Texas A&M.; The sophomore rushed 15 times for a career-high 137 yards, including a career-long run of 62 yards to key a 98-yard scoring drive for the Huskers.
"It felt good," said Crouch, who had rushed for a combined 49 yards in his last two games. "We did a good job of executing in the second half and ran the way we know we can."
Crouch was also 9 of 20 passing for 95 yards. However, Nebraska didn't need to rely on the passing game as much as it piled up 335 yards rushing.
Crouch's quiet few weeks prompted a reporter to ask if his mom has been getting more publicity than him recently. Susan Crouch has been featured in a newspaper article by the Omaha World-Herald and was also interviewed during the game by ABC.
"She seems like she's getting more press than I am," Crouch said. "I called her up the other day because she was in the paper one day and she said, 'I've been getting a lot of grief.' I said, 'yeah, try being in there every day.' She couldn't really say anything after that."
Julch Inspiring Teammates
By just being on the field, Nebraska senior tackle Adam Julch is inspiring his teammates on the offensive line. Julch has battled through a host of injuries this season and is currently playing through back pain and with a brace for a dislocated elbow that doctors have told him he may not be able to fully extend again.
"He plays with anything -- it doesn't matter how much he's hurting," Nebraska guard Russ Hochstein said. "He's leading us by courage and his inner strength. We all appreciate what he's done."
After trying to finesse Texas A&M; in the first half, the Huskers went back to a more traditional game plan. The power attack, behind the likes of Julch and Hochstein, allowed Nebraska to gain 274 of its 335 rushing yards in the second half.
"We knew from that second drive that we were the better team and we wanted to show that," Hochstein said. "In the second half, we were able to run the straight ahead, bread and butter plays. That's what we want to do."
Too Many Turnovers
With unbeaten Kansas State coming to Lincoln next week, Nebraska's inability to hang on to the ball has Solich concerned. The Huskers, who were burned by three key fumbles in their Oct. 23 loss at Texas, surrendered three more fumbles against Texas A&M; and have lost 15 of 29 fumbles this season.
"We have been our own worst enemy throughout the course of the season," Solich said. "When we've been stopped, we've really contributed to that ourselves with penalties and turnovers. We're running out of time to work on some of that stuff."
Penalties were not a problem for NU against the Aggies. The Huskers were flagged one time for 10 yards -- well below their season average of 54.6 yards in penalties through the first eight games.
Very Happy at Home
After another stellar performance at home, Memorial Stadium might just be the edge Nebraska needs to derail Kansas State. The Wildcats visit Lincoln next Saturday in a 2:30 p.m. game that will be televised by ABC.
"We have a lot of confidence here because we know we have the intimidation factor going for us here at home," Nebraska cornerback Ralph Brown said. "It just feels good seeing all that red."
While going 5-0 at home this season, Nebraska has outscored its opponents 189-41. The Huskers have allowed just seven first-half points at home with Southern Mississippi being the only team to score at Memorial Stadium in the first two quarters.
"The crowd was really into the game," Mike Brown said. "I think they sensed the big-game atmosphere and we sensed that in the crowd. Whenever you have the crowd behind you, it always gives you a little extra motivation, a little extra energy."
Texas A&M; coach R.C. Slocum, whose team is also known for its home-field advantage, said he was impressed with his first trip to Lincoln.
"I am very impressed with Nebraska fans," Slocum said. "This is one of the classiest places I have been in all of my years of coaching."
Texas A&M; was last shut out in 1988 against LSU. ... It was Nebraska's first shutout of a ranked opponent since beating No. 24 West Virginia 31-0 in the 1994 Kickoff Classic. ...Nebraska's Josh Brown kicked a career-high three field goals. After missing from 21 yards out, Brown made kicks from 20, 31 and 36 yards. He is now 9 of 14 for the season. ... Nebraska had a season-best eight sacks, including a career-high three by Steve Warren. ...Redshirt freshman tight end Aaron Golliday from York had a career-best two receptions for 24 yards. ... NU senior split end Matt Davison had one catch for six yards. Last year against A&M;, Davison had a career-best 10 receptions for a school-record 167 yards. Davison's 68 career catches moved him past Irving Fryar into fifth on the school's all-time charts. ... Nebraska converted four of A&M;'s five turnovers into a total of 20 points. ... The Lincoln and Omaha Food Banks collected 2,610 pounds of food prior to the game during their "Kick in a Can" food drive. ...Nebraska's injuries included: wingback Bobby Newcombe (right hip pointer), I-back Dan Alexander (left shoulder sprain), rush end Kyle Vanden Bosch (twisted right ankle) and offensive lineman Toniu Fonoti (twisted left ankle). None of the injuries are thought to be serious.
Compiled by Terry Douglass
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