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Huskers drill K-State 41-15, return to national title pictureHuskers drill K-State 41-15, return to national title picture

Related Story:
Saturday's upsets leave Big 12 sitting pretty

By KENT PULLIAM - The Kansas City Star
Date: 11/13/99 22:15

LINCOLN, Neb. -- In the end, it was the same story here as it has been for countless other Kansas State trips to Memorial Stadium. Nebraska was simply better. Sadly, for Kansas State, the 41-15 final score was more than indicative of how much Nebraska dominated this game.

Big-play touchdowns in the fourth quarter were merely the exclamation points of an already strong statement that left K-State coach Bill Snyder quietly explaining how his previously undefeated Wildcats fell.

"We weren't very good," Snyder said, "in a lot of phases."

That might qualify as the understatement of the year.

The defense was shredded for the first time this season. It never found an answer for quarterback Eric Crouch's shifty running. He finished with 158 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.

Nebraska fumbled 10 times. Kansas State recovered just three.

Quarterbacks Jonathan Beasley and Adam Helm combined for seven of 31 passing, five sacks and an interception.

And the special teams, which have lifted Kansas State, to come-from-behind victories on the road at Texas and Iowa State, made their own contributions to the Wildcats' loss.

"They (Nebraska) played very well," Snyder said. "We got ourselves -- I let us be in in the position -- to make some bad choices and probably let them score. But we were unable to get anything going other than at the end of the half we got a play.

"Outside of that, not a whole lot to write home about."

Kansas State gained just 234 yards against Nebraska's Blackshirt defense. Of the 17 times Kansas State had the ball, they had 11 three-and-out series.

"We have too much firepower to get beat like that," said wide receiver Aaron Lockett.

On Saturday, the firepower was more pop gun. Starting quarterback Jonathan Beasley was three for 19 before being pulled in the third quarter. Backup Adam Helm was four of 12, but was sacked on five other pass plays.

In his defense, Snyder said Beasley has been injured and not practiced in the passing game for nearly two weeks. It showed on Saturday against a Nebraska defense that was at the top of its game and thirsting for atonement from the 40-30 loss the Wildcats hung on them a year ago.

"I don't think there is any question that Kansas State struggled to move the ball," Solich said in another understatement.

That wasn't true for Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers fumbled away their first play. They punted on the second. But they scored touchdowns on three of the next four drives. In between they also drilled a safety and took a 24-9 lead into halftime.

Kansas State got the ball at the start of the second half when David Allen returned the kickoff 54 yards. But when Beasley overthrew Aaron Lockett on the first play -- he was wide open down the middle for a touchdown -- it set the tone for the remainder of the game.

"It wasn't enough," said Allen, who had 98 yards in two kickoff returns. "If you can't throw it and can't run it either three is no sense on being on the field. You can't play like that against a team like Nebraska.

"I definitely thought we had a chance at half because we have done it all year. But we had a lot of costly mistakes. We didn't give ourselves a chance."

The loss ends Kansas State's hopes of playing out the Bowl Championship Series scenario and possibly ending up in the championship game. It leaves the Wildcats with a 9-1 mark, 6-1 in the conference. Nebraska also is 9-1, 6-1, but in control of the North Division because of the tiebreaker rules.

To reach Kent Pulliam, Kansas State reporter for The Star, call 816-234-4355 or send e-mail to kpulliam@kcstar.com

All content 2000 The Kansas City Star