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Nebraska manhandles K-State, 41-15


By Ken Stephens / The Dallas Morning News

LINCOLN, Neb. - Who would have thought it would be 84 degrees in mid-November in Nebraska, or that the Cornhuskers could fumble the ball 10 times but still thoroughly dominate No. 5 Kansas State.

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But both happened Saturday as No. 7 Nebraska (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) knocked the Wildcats from the ranks of the unbeaten, 41-15, regained control of the Big 12 North and forced its way back into contention for the national championship.

Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch provided most of the offense, rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns and passing for 69 more yards, and the powerful Blackshirt defense forced five turnovers and allowed Kansas State (9-1, 6-1) to complete only eight of 32 passes.

By the end, many of the 77,744 in attendance were chanting "We want Texas."

The Cornhuskers stayed on course for a rematch with the Longhorns, the only team to defeat Nebraska this season, in the Big 12 championship game. While Texas had a chance to clinch the Big 12 South by beating Texas Tech Saturday night, Nebraska will be able to clinch the North if it beats Colorado on Nov. 26 in Boulder.

The trend and tone of the game was set early. Nebraska I-back Dan Alexander lost a fumble at the Cornhuskers 28-yard line on the first play of the game. But the Blackshirts yielded only five yards on three plays, forcing K-State's Jamie Rheem to attempt a 40-yard field goal. That's when Nebraska's Kyle Vanden Bosch broke through to block his third kick in the last two games.

"That took the wind out of their sails," said Vanden Bosch. "They had a chance to go up early and didn't get anything out of it."

K-State was forced to punt on its next possession, and Nebraska wingback Bobby Newcombe returned it 28 yards to give the Cornhuskers great field position at the Wildcats 44-yard line. Three plays later, Crouch scored on a 30-yard run and the Huskers led, 7-0.

Nebraska's Ralph Brown recovered a K-State fumble on the ensuing kickoff and returned it to the Wildcats 1-yard line. But on the next play, another Nebraska I-back, Correll Buckhalter, fumbled the ball back.

Nebraska's defense yielded only one yard, however, and then linebacker Randy Stella blocked a K-State punt through the back of the end zone for a safety.

Nebraska QB Eric Crouch bolts 18 yards for a touchdown as the Huskers knocked K-State from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Nebraska got the ball back at its 27-yard line after a free kick and put together a methodical 11-play drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown run by Crouch. Nebraska led, 16-0, and was never seriously threatened the rest of the game.

"We weren't very good, not very good at all," said K-State coach Bill Snyder. "We turned the ball over too many times. I think we lost four fumbles and had two blocked punts. I don't know how many points that turned into, but that is a bunch of points we provided for them."

Nebraska entered the game having lost 15 fumbles, the most in the nation. They probably retained that dubious distinction by losing three more on Saturday. Nebraska coach Frank Solich knew his team had fumbled a lot, but he had no idea it was 10 times.

"That's rough there," he said. "That didn't help us any. Usually when you fumble that many times you're on the losing side. I guess that means our players rose above that."

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© 1999 The Dallas Morning News
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