Time and time again Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor was knocked to the turf by Michigan defenders in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. Time and time again Taylor would get back up for more. That’s just the way the rest of his team responded as the Nebraska Cornhuskers erased an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Michigan Wolverines 32-28.
Taylor was sacked four times and hit hard on many other occasions. "We don't like to see him take hits," head coach Bill Callahan said. "He's a courageous young man."
“There’s a lot of grit on this football team, and I’m very proud of that,” Callahan said.
The win was Callahan’s first bowl victory as a head coach and lifted Nebraska’s record to 8-4. Michigan falls to 7-5.
Nebraska found themselves in a 28-17 hole with 11:40 left in the game when UM quarterback Chad Henne ran the ball in from seen yards out. The two teams traded short drives before a 28 yard punt return by Cortney Grixby set the Huskers up at the Michigan 38. I-Back Cory Ross provided all the yardage necessary on the next two plays, including a 31-yard touchdown run. A successful two-point conversion pulled the Huskers to within three points.
Nebraska’s defense forced fumbles on Michigan’s next two drives but was only able to capitalize on the second one that gave NU a short field at the Michigan 17. Nebraska scored the game winning touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Taylor to Terrence Nunn with 4:23 left in the game.
Michigan mounted two threats to win before time ran out. On their ensuing drive the Wolverines marched down to the Husker 18-yard line only to turn the ball over on downs.
After Nebraska went three-and-out, Michigan had one last gasp with 2 seconds left and the ball at the UM 36. Pulling a page out of the Cal-Stanford playbook the Wolverines turned a simple pass from Henne to Jason Avant into an almost comical seven lateral pass play that reverted back to the Michigan 20 and ended when Tyler Ecker was taken out at the Nebraska 13 yard line amid a swarm of Nebraska players and Michigan coaches who had run onto the field prematurely.
Senior I-back Cory Ross rushed for a season-high 161 yards and one touchdown while Taylor completed 14-of-31 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns on the night. Sophomore wide receiver Terrence Nunn was the team’s leading receiver with added four catches for 91 yards, including the game-winning grab.
Nebraska opened the game’s scoring blitz with a 52-yard pass from Taylor to Nunn on the Huskers’ second drive to take a 7-0 lead with 8:04 left in the quarter.
Michigan responded with a five-play drive, set up by a 69-yard kickoff return by Steve Breaston to the NU 30. Henne connected with Ecker on the 13-yard scoring toss.
Both teams added second quarter touchdowns, but Michigan missed another opportunity when kicker Garrett Rivas’ 25-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright and fell back to the turf.
The Wolverines struck back defensively with an interception at the NU 28 on the next play. Henne hit tight end Mike Massey on a 16-yard scoring strike just three plays later to give Michigan its first lead of the game at 14-7 with 11:43 remaining in the second quarter.
Nebraska finally tied things up with 2:37 left in the half when the Huskers put together a seven-play, 70-yard drive to tie the score at 14 with 2:37 left in the first half. On the drive, Taylor completed all five of his passes, including a 25-yard pass to Nunn and a 14-yard scoring strike to freshman wide receiver Nate Swift.
The Blackshirts forced a three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half and the Husker offense responded with an 11-play, 62-yard drive that lasted 4:34 to set up freshman place-kicker Jordan Congdon's 20-yard field goal to give NU a 17-14 lead with 8:54 left in the third quarter.
Michigan controlled the rest of the third quarter, as Henne hit Mario Manningham with a 21-yard touchdown pass to give the Wolverines a 21-17 lead with 6:34 left in the quarter and setting the stage for the final finish.
Michigan finished with 270 yards passing and 130 yards rushing, while NU achieved solid balance with 167 yards passing and 151 yards rushing for 318 total yards.
Michigan also had 258 return yards, including 218 yards from Breaston, who had 146 yards on four kickoff returns and 72 yards on seven punt returns.