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Published Sunday, December 31, 2000

Massacre at the Alamo
Huskers set bowl record, whip Wildcats 66-17

Last modified at 1:46 a.m. on Sunday, December 31, 2000

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photo: HuskersHQ
Associated Press Photo
Nebraska's Matt Davison celebrates a 69-yard touchdown catch against Northwestern during the Alamo Bowl.

By Bob Hamar
The Independent

SAN ANTONIO -- The old joke says the "N'' on Nebraska's helmet stands for "knowledge.''

Well, there's no doubt the Huskers laid a little knowledge on Northwestern Saturday night in the Sylvania Alamo Bowl.

Nebraska taught the Wildcats what a good old-fashioned whipping feels like in a 66-17 victory before 60,028 fans at the Alamodome. The 66 points were the most ever scored by any team in any bowl game.

"It was a great game by a lot of people,'' Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "I think you just saw a group of seniors out there who made one big play after another. It's an outstanding group and they're going to be missed.

"It all came together in this game tonight in the terms of their play and how they brought the team along.''

Senior I-back Dan Alexander did much of the whipping with an Alamo Bowl record 240 yards.

Bobby Newcombe contributed with a 58-yard TD catch and a 59-yard pass to Matt Davison while quarterback Eric Crouch rushed for another 90 yards and two touchdowns.

"They came in here like a team with something to prove and they proved it,'' Northwestern coach Randy Walker said. "They played a very good football game. They took advantage of some things. Any time we sensed a little bit of a momentum change they struck right back.

"They dominated us up front.''

Davison said the Huskers certainly did have something to prove.

"We felt like we should have been in a BCS game,'' he said. "Hopefully we left a legacy behind. We were 10-2, and that's a great record.''

The Huskers picked up 476 yards on the ground and another 160 through the air to go along with 28 first downs. Northwestern had 232 rushing yards and 151 passing. Quarterback Zak Kustok completed just 17 of 43 attempts and had one interception.

Running back Damien Anderson provided much of the Wildcat rushing game with 149 yards on 18 carries.

If there was any doubt at the half who was going to win the game, the Huskers erased it early in the third quarter. Nebraska took the second-half kickoff and went 79 yards in seven plays. Matt Davison made a diving catch of a Crouch pass for an 11-yard TD catch with 12 minutes, 17 seconds left in the third quarter.

Anderson broke loose for a 57-yard run down to the Nebraska 24. Northwestern moved inside the Nebraska 10, but Kyle Vanden Bosch and Joe Walker stopped Anderson short of a first down on a fourth-down play and the Huskers took over on their own 5-yard line.

Then it was time for some old-fashioned power football. With Alexander and Correll Buckhalter carrying the load, the Huskers moved 95 yards in 14 plays and took 5:14 off the clock. Crouch finished the drive with a 2-yard TD run on an option over right tackle.

"We really had some drives that took up a lot of time on the clock and I think wore them down a little,'' Solich said.

Northwestern again moved the ball on its next possession. The Wildcats got to the Nebraska 26, but on fourth down Kustok's pass to Jon Schweighardt came up a yard short of the first down.

The Huskers quickly took advantage of their opportunity. Judd Davies went for 14 yards to the 31. Then Crouch tossed a swing pass to Newcombe, who hit a wide-open Davison for a 69-yard TD pass to give Nebraska a 59-17 lead.

"Bobby and I have been through a lot together,'' Davison said. "I kind of acted like I was going to block and they just left me open.''

Solich said the timing was right to run that play.

"It was a play we felt comfortable with,'' Solich said. "We felt that play would have a great chance. Bobby is an excellent thrower. Matt does a great job of acting like he's going to block and then slipping out.''

The Huskers got off to a fast start on their first possession of the game. After forcing a Northwestern punt, Nebraska took over on its own 46. A reverse to Newcombe netted five yards, then Alexander took an option pitch from Crouch around the right side for 20 down to the Northwestern 29.

Alexander went for six more up the middle, then Willie Miller carried it for a first down on the 15. Alexander then went over the right side untouched for a touchdown to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead with 12:49 left in the first quarter.

Northwestern answered with an eight-play, 53-yard drive that ended in a 44-yard field goal by Tim Long.

That was the end of the scoring in the first quarter, but things picked up in the second.

The Wildcats took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter on an 18-yard TD pass from Kustok to Teddy Johnson. That play came after a fake punt by the Wildcats. With a fourth-and-nine on the Nebraska 30, punter J.J. Standring lofted a pass down the right sideline intended for Jason Wright. Nebraska's Keyuo Craver, thinking the ball had been punted, blocked Wright and was called for pass interference to set up the touchdown pass.

But the Wildcat lead didn't last long. Joe Walker returned the kickoff to the Nebraska 49, and on the next play Crouch ran an option to the right, faked the pitch to Alexander, cut up the field and went 51 yards for a touchdown to give Nebraska a 14-10 lead.

On their next possession, the Huskers needed just three plays to go 49 yards for a touchdown. Alexander went 33 on the first play, then gained 13 down to the 2-yard line. Alexander dove over from there to give Nebraska a 21-10 lead with 11:50 left in the half.

The Huskers got another chance later in the first half when Newcombe returned a punt 32 yards down to the Northwestern 8. Crouch gained six yards on two carries, then Correll Buckhalter dove over from the two to give Nebraska a 28-10 lead.

Josh Brown connected on a 51-yard field goal with 1:28 left in the half to put Nebraska ahead 31-10, but Northwestern struck right back with a 69-yard TD run by Anderson with 1:10 left in the quarter.

Randy Stella returned the kickoff to the 36 to put Nebraska in good field position. Crouch ran for six yards on the next play, then fired a short screen pass to Newcombe. The senior broke loose down the right sidelines and went 58 yards for the touchdown as the Huskers took a 38-17 lead at the half.

"We just got out of our rhythm a little,'' Walker said. "We knew right away we had to come out and make some shots. Our protection didn't allow us to do that. By the same token, we had some things going in the first half but we couldn't keep things going in all facets of the game and keep this thing reasonable going into the fourth quarter.''

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