(Ames, Iowa - November 16, 1996) - The Nebraska Cornhuskers found themselves battling Mother Nature as much as they were the Iowa State Cyclones in Saturday's rain soaked match-up of Big 12 foes. The Huskers were able to overcome both as they rolled to a 49-14 victory.
The teams fought off temperatures that fell through the forties through the game with periodic rain and even driving sleet during third quarter action. Despite the weather, Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney wasn't about to use that as an excuse for the loss. "I really didn't think (the bad weather) bothered us that much. I though the playing field was in excellent condition considering how wet it's been the past few days."
All eyes in Cyclone Stadium were on Iowa State running back Troy Davis. The junior from Miami, Florida needed 178 yards rushing on the day to become the first player in NCAA history to rush for over 2,000 yards in two different seasons. The Cyclones game plan was conducive to that effort as the ball found itself in Davis' hands early and often. Davis carried for all five plays of ISU's opening drive. However, on third and 22, Davis fumbled the ball and Husker linebacker Jon Hesse recovered at the Cyclone 39.
The Cornhuskers capitalized on the miscue as they charged 39 yards in 8 plays. The score came on a 6 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Scott Frost to Vershan Jackson.
Iowa State's next drive ended in a punt and set Nebraska up near mid field. Again, the Huskers struck quickly. Sophomore I-Back Ahman Green dashed for gains of 11 and 8 yards. The combination of Scott Frost to Vershan Jackson struck again for a 35 yard touchdown pass. With just under five minutes left in the quarter the Huskers were up 14-0.
The Huskers got one more chance to score in the first after Iowa State's next drive ended quickly with a punt. The Husker ground game drove them from the NU 36 down to the ISU 19. Frost connected with receiver Brendan Holbein for a 12 yard gain, putting the Huskers in business at the ISU 6. I-Back Damon Benning finished the job with a 6 yard scoring run. The extra point was missed and NU was ahead at the first break 20-0.
Iowa State put together their best drive of the half as they opened the second period. Starting at the ISU 20 senior quarterback Todd Doxson guided the team 12 plays before stalling at their own 49. ISU was able to move as close as the Husker 41, but reversed their momentum and field position when Husker linebacker Terrell Farley sacked Doxson for a 14 yard loss. The Huskers were unable to break through, though as their next drive ended with a Jesse Kosch punt.
The next drive could be one for Iowa State to forget as they became masters of self destruction.
Starting at their own 19 Troy Davis rushed for gains of 6, 12, 1, and 3, and Doxson completed passes of 13 and 12 yards to set the Cyclones up with a first and ten at the Nebraska 34. Then things fell apart for the Cyclones. Doxson was sacked for a loss of 12 yards, Iowa State was penalized for a false start, then another penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, followed by a third straight penalty for false start. In four plays the Cyclones went backwards 41 yards and were facing forth and 51 at the ISU 25. Cyclone punter Marc Harris became an instant hero, however, when produced a 75 yard punt that rolled into the end zone robbing the Huskers of great field position.
The Cyclones were not able to dodge another bullet, though, as the Huskers took over the ball at the 20 with three minutes left in the half. Ahman Green hit his stride as he rushed for 61 yards during the drive, including gains of 23 and 25. The Huskers scored again when Frost dove in from one yard out. The Huskers tried a little trickery on the extra point. Kris Brown came in for an apparent one point kick attempt. Holder Jon Vedral took the snap, then pitched ahead to a pulling Jeff Makovica, who rumbled in for the two point conversion.
A last gasp effort at the end of the half was thwarted when linebacker Jamel Williams grabbed a bobbled Doxson pass for an interception and the Huskers were leading at the half 21-0.
Troy Davis was unable to break things open in the first half as he managed only 44 yards rushing before the break, while his Husker counterpart Ahman Green had already rolled up 138.
The Huskers took the opening kickoff of the half and picked up where they had left off in the first half.
Starting at the ISU 20, the Huskers drove 80 yards in 12 plays for another touchdown. Ahman Green accounted for 62 of those yards, including the final four around the right side for the score.
Iowa State finally got things going on their first try in the fourth. Troy Davis broke free on a 35 yard run to give the Cyclones a first and ten at the NU 23. One play later Doxson connected with Ed Williams on a 22 yard completion for the score.
Weather-wise things turned worse for both teams as driving rain and sleet fell through most of the third period.
The Huskers next drive was a monster seventeen play affair that ate up 6:46 seconds on the clock. Scott Frost took the ball in for the score from 2 yards out on a fourth and goal at the two. Nebraska converted two fourth down plays and two third down attempts during the drive.
Iowa State's next drive lasted one play after Ralph Brown intercepted a reverse pass from wide receiver Ed Williams at the ISU 40.
The Huskers turned things over to the reserves in the fourth as darkness started to creep in on Ames.
The first Husker drive stalled at the State 12 where the Cyclones took over on downs. Again the Cyclones were unable to mount an attack, punting the ball back to Nebraska.
Husker reserve quarterback Matt Turman took advantage of the playing time and drove his teammates 51 yards in nine plays. Turman put another Husker touchdown in the books on a one yard run.
Cyclone backup quarterback Todd Bandauer gave Iowa State some measure of respect when he marched ISU ahead for a 72 yard, 16 play scoring drive. A two yard pass from Bandauer to Ed Williams accounted for the games final score.
Troy Davis was in the game until the end, padding his season rushing total to 1,960 yards, 40 yards short of the magical 2,000 yard mark. He was kept out of the end zone for the first time in 11 games. Davis has one more game left this year, a conference matchup with Kansas State. Davis' plans after that are more the subject of controversy and speculation has him foregoing his senior year at Iowa State and making himself eligible for the spring NFL draft.
Nebraska I-Back Ahman Green finished with 214 yard on 29 carries. Backup I-Back Damon Benning added 45 yards on 11 carries. Scott Frost completed 8 of 17 pass attempts for 103 yards and two touchdowns, both the wide receiver Vershan Jackson.
The win gave the Huskers their 30th straight conference win dating back to a stunning 19-10 loss at the hands of Iowa State in 1992. The win gives Nebraska their 28th straight season with nine wins.