Huskers win for Solich
By Tim Griffin
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted : 09/09/2001 12:00 AM
LINCOLN, Neb. — The birthday gift didn't come wrapped in fancy paper.
Not that Nebraska coach Frank Solich was too choosy. His football team provided him with a present Saturday night that made his 57th birthday one of the most memorable in his life.
The Cornhuskers came up with a determined 27-10 triumph over Notre Dame that won't win many style points but mirrored their blue-collar approach of their coach to football.
"I hadn't thought much about it, to be honest," Solich said. "I had a lot of things on my mind, but it was good to get a win."
The Huskers dedicated the victory to their coach, whose father, Frank Solich Sr., died eight days ago. Solich and his family will leave for the funeral today after remaining with his team this week.
"We thought about him and his family this week in our practice and game preparations," Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch said. "It meant a lot for everybody to give their all for each other, our coach and his family. This program is a family and we stayed together."
I-back Dahrran Diedrick rushed for 133 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Cornhuskers scored on three of their first four possessions and cruised to their third straight victory this season.
"It was obvious in the first half that we were really coming off the ball," Solich said. "Basically we were just running power plays."
The Irish played like they were still hung over from their demoralizing loss to Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl eight months earlier. They committed four turnovers after setting an NCAA record with only eight miscues last year.
It was the second-worst first-game loss in Notre Dame's proud 113-year history and first time the team opened the season with a loss since 1995.
Nebraska's big performance ruined the debut of Roosevelt-ex Carlyle Holiday, who was inserted for his first college playing time with 11:42 left in the first half.
Holiday completed 5 of 8 passes for 41 yards and directed a scoring drive, but was more disappointed in an interception that killed a scoring drive late in the first half.
"I would give myself a C-plus," Holiday said. "It was good to get a chance to finally play, but I made too many mistakes. I've got a lot to improve on."
A record Memorial Stadium crowd of 78,118 was present to watch the first visit by Notre Dame since 1948. The big crowd wasn't disappointed as the Cornhuskers jumped on the Irish from the beginning to charge to their 55th victory in their last 56 home games.
The big crowd had barely settled in their seats before the Cornhuskers muscled 64 yards on their first possession, capped by Diedrick's 2-yard TD run.
Two Notre Dame mistakes paved the way for Nebraska's next two scores, with the first error coming on the Irish's first play from scrimmage.
Terrance Howard's fumble was recovered by Jamie Burrow at the Notre Dame 22. Crouch hooked up with wingback John Gibson on a 22-yard strike on the next play for a 14-0 advantage.
Nebraska's defense bottled up Notre Dame's offense as the Irish failed to gain yardage on eight of their first 10 plays from scrimmage. By then, the game was 17-0 and safely in their grasp.
Notre Dame struggled with starter Matt LoVecchio before Holiday was inserted in the lineup.