Huskers harass Cats in first Holiday Bowl shutout

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—After developing a reputation for high-scoring games and crazy finishes, the Holiday Bowl finally got the first shutout in its 32-year history.

It wasn’t close, either.

Zac Lee threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Niles Paul in the third quarter to highlight No. 20 Nebraska’s 33-0 rout against No. 22 Arizona on a rainy Wednesday night.

The coaches expected a defensive game, and the Huskers delivered, earning their first shutout in 46 bowl appearances.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the AP College Football Player of the Year and a Heisman finalist, had only three tackles, including one for a loss, in his final college game. But he helped the Huskers harass Arizona quarterback Nick Foles all night. Suh even went out for a pass early in the third quarter on second-and-4 from the Arizona 5, but Lee didn’t throw his way.

Suh had been on the bench for most of Arizona’s final drive, but came back in for a goal-line stand, along with some other starters.

The Wildcats had the ball fourth-and-3 at the Nebraska 8-yard line with 1:41 to go before safety P.J. Smith batted down Foles’ pass to preserve the shutout.

“We wanted to fortify that we were the best team on the field,” Suh said. “That’s the way we’ve been playing all year. We’ve been getting better week in, week out and we had one last chance to do it as a team in 2009. That’s why we wanted to shut them down and make them realize that they needed to respect us because we didn’t think they wanted to respect us at the beginning of the game.”

Then again, the Wildcats were never in this one. Nebraska free safety Matt O’Hanlon intercepted Foles on the third play from scrimmage and returned it 37 yards to the Arizona 5. Lee scored on a 4-yard run two plays later. It was the fastest score in Holiday Bowl history, coming just 75 seconds in.

Arizona set Holiday Bowl records for futility, with six first downs, 109 yards of offense, 51 offensive plays and nine punts. The Wildcats didn’t get into Nebraska territory until the first drive of the third quarter.

The previous Holiday Bowl record for fewest first downs was 12 by Nebraska in a 23-20 loss to Arizona in 1998. The previous record for fewest yards was 185 by BYU in a 65-14 loss to Texas A&M in 1990, and the previous record for the most punts was eight, by five teams.

Nebraska (10-4) got its first 10-win season since 2003. Arizona finished 8-5.

“Nebraska’s back and we’re here to stay,” coach Bo Pelini said.

This loss mirrored Arizona’s first bowl appearance, a 38-0 loss to Centre (Ky.) in the rain in the 1921 East-West Christmas Classic in San Diego.

“This game is humbling in many ways,” Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. “When you think you’ve arrived, that’s when you are going to get whacked. We got whacked by a very good team.

“Nothing was right all night. We certainly didn’t show up in any way and I apologize to our fans,” Stoops said.

Arizona safety Cam Nelson said a lot of his teammates were simply happy to be at the bowl.

“All week Coach Stoops tried to be nice and a lot of guys took advantage of it,” Nelson said. “That caused us to play the way we did.”

Pelini earned bragging rights in Youngstown, Ohio, where he and Stoops grew up and played at Cardinal Mooney High.

Nebraska’s Alex Henery set a Holiday Bowl record with four field goals, from 47, 50, 41 and 22 yards.

The Huskers even ran a handful of plays out of the wildcat formation, including a 5-yard run by Rex Burkhead early in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.

“It’s something we’ve had in our hip pocket,” Pelini said. “We haven’t run a lot of it this year. We gave them some different looks. I thought we had some big wrinkles for them to keep them off-balance.”

With Nebraska leading 26-0 late in the third quarter, Paul hauled in Lee’s long pass at the Arizona 40 and cruised into the end zone. He spiked the ball and flexed his muscles in a pose to the crowd, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Paul had four catches for 123 yards.

Updated Dec 31, 1:05 am EST
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Head to Head - Week 18

Team Total Yds Pass Yds Rush Yds First Downs 3rdD% Pen./Yds Turnovers Time of Poss.
Arizona 109 46 63 6 20.0% 2/25 1 21:48
Nebraska 396 173 223 19 50.0% 7/55 0 38:12

472 Comments

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  1. Bill
    471. Posted by Bill Sun Jan 3 3:06am EST

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    Horse M, always resorting to the personal attacks.
    Turner Gill did a remarkable job at Buffalo, taking over a program that had won 6 games in 10 years and making them very competitive. He had absolutely nothing to work with at Buffalo but he has plenty to work with at Kansas. We just recently built a 20 million dollar football facility and our recruiting classes have been near the top 30 over the last few years. Nevermind the tremendous recruiting tool of having prospects watch a game at Allen Fieldhouse, one of the greatest venues in all of sports.

    I talked a lot of needless trash this season. However, I was not alone in my belief that Kansas could win the Big 12 North. We certainly had the talent but simply did not have the discipline.

    Tell me NU fans, did Turner Gill play much of a role in coaching NU QBs from 1992-2003? Tommy Frazier, Scott Frost, and Eric Crouch were practically converted into models of the player that Turner Gill was. The QB we will have next year fits that mold perfectly.

    Bo Pelini has done a tremendous job but he seriously needs some anger management or else he will suffer a heart attack or have a nervous breakdown. Turner Gill will be around longer and someday Nebraska will probably try and snatch him away, much like North Carolina did to us at basketball. And then like basketball we will replace him with a better coach! HAHA!

    ROCK CHALK!
  2. <i>acc_football69</i>
    470. Posted by acc_football69 Sun Jan 3 2:09am EST

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    FSU HERE! Arizona, after that disaster against Nebraska, u can keep ur defensive coordinator, Mark Bloops! I don't know what Jimbo was thinkin!? We need Nebraskas ass kickin defensive coord.
  3. <i>bshultzrn</i>
    469. Posted by bshultzrn Sun Jan 3 12:23am EST

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    First, as a Lifelong 'Husker fan..I am thrilled that Coach Bo Pelini brought back what made Nebraska the team of the '90's...tough defense and an attitude that says "You don't want to play us". That being said, NU still has a ways to go...one season doesn't make a comeback...I still think that Nebraska is 3 years away from being a true National Title Contender...the Big 12 is a tough, underrated conference...Texas is the team to beat, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, OK State, Kansas State as well as Kansas can beat you on any given Saturday...and don't forget about Mizzou...

    Turner Gill WILL be a good coach..give him time, he was a hell of a QB at Nebraska!!

    I'm pulling for Texas to represent us and beat Alabama next week....hook em 'Horns!!!
  4. Greg Rose
    468. Posted by Greg Rose Sat Jan 2 8:35pm EST

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    @Ref-n-Rhino: Nothing but idiots with 6th-grade educations. Any articulate well-thought comments on these boards are rare and usually ignored.
  5. DevilsVamp
    467. Posted by DevilsVamp Sat Jan 2 8:29pm EST

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    i thot this was suppose to be about football, not who screws married people, and who can call each other the most names!
    im picturing each one of u people pounding ur chest and making ape noises... boy evolution has come far!

    BTW... talking about screwing married woman doesnt make that guy look impressive, it makes him look sad and pathetic!
  6. Terry
    466. Posted by Terry Sat Jan 2 6:56pm EST

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    #457-you might want to learn how to spell "your", before you spill "your" 1st grade insults...it is "you're"...
  7. Horse M
    465. Posted by Horse M Sat Jan 2 6:17pm EST

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    Cripes Bill, do you ever give up? Do you want me to list the dozens of things you said would happen this season that never did happen? I made a ton of money betting against everything you said this year, thank you so much, your ability to be wrong is simply unmatched by anyone, you are the complete polar opposite of what one would call an 'expert'.

    Let's see, Kansas was going to win the big 12 - wrong
    Kansas would beat Nebraska easily - wrong
    Missouri would beat Kansas - wrong
    Kansas would beat Colorado - wrong
    Oklahoma will destroy Nebraska - wrong
    Texas is going to score 40 on Nebraska - wrong

    So when you are so sure that Turner Gill is going to be a big success, it really makes me sad. Sure, Gill has hired a couple of great coordinators, but Gill's performance at Buffalo overall does not exactly inspire confidence that he will have success at Kansas, and now that you have added your stamp of approval, that is like the kiss of death, given your track record of failure.
  8. Bill
    464. Posted by Bill Sat Jan 2 3:18pm EST

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    Turner Gill looks like the next Tom Osbourne. Sorry Nebraska fans, but you hired the wrong coach
  9. Ref-n-Rhino
    463. Posted by Ref-n-Rhino Sat Jan 2 11:47am EST

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    I am mostly confused by all of the negative, name-calling poste here. It should be about football facts & opinions regarding current stuff. I am a HUGE Husker fan, have been for a long time. I pull for them EVERY time. However, when they aren't the best I will generally give props to those who prove to be superior to us. Sadly TX beat us in the championship game. Did we make it all posslble for them by our late-game screwups? yes we did. They still had to take advantage of them, which they did. Did it hurt to see it happen? Hell yes, still does. It doesn't mean that I am going to trash Texas the rest of the way. I'm pulling for them against Bama. Texas is from our conference. We all need to pull for them. It only makes us look better. Were we close to even better sucess this year? Yes we were. Did we lose a couple of really close games? Yes we did. We are on the verge of becoming a power again, but we aren't there yet. Patients will help us as we climb that mountain to the top. BUT, trash-talking & name-calling won't make it any sooner. Recruiting will make allof the difference, and winning will help that for us. I like the road that pelini has us on. He is the right man for the job. Believe in him & his system and I am confident that we will enjoy even more sucess. GBR!
  10. <i>chas.turk</i>
    462. Posted by chas.turk Sat Jan 2 11:29am EST

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    neb will play for national title next year end of story
  11. Horse M
    461. Posted by Horse M Fri Jan 1 10:31pm EST

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    It must really $uck right now to be a Missouri fan. Nebraska whipped you on your home field, then the Tigers get destroyed by Navy, and Missouri fans must have been having horrible flashbacks, because Navy whipped them using the option, the same offensive scheme that Nebraska used to beat them for what seemed like 50 straight games.

    It is really sad when all the Mizzery fans have left is to go to an online board and post up insults, because their team is so pathetic that they have nothing left. Hahahahaha
  12. JeffS
    460. Posted by JeffS Fri Jan 1 9:20pm EST

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    Hey Bernie,

    Before you write an article you should pay attention to the game. Suh was in the whole final drive. Other starters came in when they got close to the goal line.
  13. <i>doerfast</i>
    459. Posted by doerfast Fri Jan 1 9:15pm EST

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    Putting me in my place you say? Dream on you ringed lip little p*ssy.
  14. <i>doerfast</i>
    458. Posted by doerfast Fri Jan 1 9:10pm EST

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    Hey Horse Mouth why don't you take one of those silly a*s rings out of your lip and put it through the tip of you d*ck then maybe you'd satisfy those Bellevue girls better so they don't have to come down to KC to get off!!!!!!!
  15. <i>doerfast</i>
    457. Posted by doerfast Fri Jan 1 9:08pm EST

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    Hey Horse Mouth I see your from Bellevue, NE.

    That married chick I was banging was from Bellevue. Too bad you boys up there can't take care of your p*ssy better. Must be that cold weather that gives you guys three strokes than spurt.

    She was married to some Air Force brat from that base in your city. Damn that b*tch could scream.

    Surgeons daughter if I remember right.

    Any way good luck to your pride and joy the little Cornhuskers. Cause I hear the sucide rate was hell up there in 2007 and 2004!
  16. Horse M
    456. Posted by Horse M Fri Jan 1 8:09pm EST

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    I cannot say I disagree, however I would never agree to more than an 'and 1' playoff format. Meaning, 4 teams play it out for the national title. My issue with a full blown playoff is that even with 8 teams you have a chance of getting a team with 3 losses in that field of 8, and no way should a 3 loss team win the national title. I completely understand the idea of "playing the best ball in the land at the end of the season" but you can NOT water down the overall season by allowing a 3 loss team to defeat a team with no losses, then call the 3 loss team the National Champ, that would be insane.
  17. Dan G
    455. Posted by Dan G Fri Jan 1 8:02pm EST

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    I agree we need a playoff.
  18. Dan G
    453. Posted by Dan G Fri Jan 1 7:05pm EST

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    Phil - Seeing that you reside in Nebraska says it all.

    As I've said already, I am in agreement that the Pac-10 is overrated. I do think Oregon is a good football team however, but don't believe Nebraska is even close to their 90's status.
  19. Phil
    452. Posted by Phil Fri Jan 1 6:49pm EST

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    From what I've read, Dan is an idiot,
  20. Dan G
    451. Posted by Dan G Fri Jan 1 6:09pm EST

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    Horse M

    You just confirmed what I've been saying all along in the first paragraph of your last post.

    Arizona was overrated all season and proved that by laying down yesterday. Oregon is lightyears better then Arizona. Just saying.
  21. Horse M
    450. Posted by Horse M Fri Jan 1 5:25pm EST

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    BCS? Where exactly did I ever say Nebraska deserved a BCS berth? Nebraska ruined any opportunity for a BCS matchup first by losing those games midseason, and then again by kicking the ball out of bounds near the end of the Big 12 game. I do believe, however, that Nebraska can defeat any Pac 10 team.

    He11 I'm even for Oregon to beat Ohio State today. But the way the Pac 10 has played so far in the bowls... I don't know if that was a very smart pick LOL
  22. McFly
    449. Posted by McFly Fri Jan 1 5:09pm EST

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    Horsey, you have single handedly defeated all of the posters on here in the name of NU. You should be proud :-)
  23. Dan G
    448. Posted by Dan G Fri Jan 1 4:32pm EST

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    Horse M

    All I got was blah blah blah

    Looks like you are getting educated by 5thplaceismine as well! Aren't you glad we aren't charging you at this point?

    As i've stated, you seem to be just a typical homer blowhard who picks and chooses and talks out of both sides of his mouth. Nebraska played good down the stretch, no denying that. However, the way college football is set-up, losses against lowly Iowa State and TT end any BCS conversation.

    Get back there, then get back to us.
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