Nebraska is happily back on top in the Big 12 North Division.
The No. 7 Cornhuskers avenged last year's loss to Kansas State by blowing out the No. 5 Wildcats 41-15 Saturday. Nebraska (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big 12) can clinch the North title by beating Colorado on Nov. 26.
"We knew they didn't respect Nebraska like they used to. We knew they didn't fear Nebraska like they used to. We wanted to put that fear back into them," linebacker Carlos Polk said.
Eric Crouch led Nebraska with 158 yards rushing and two touchdowns as the Huskers quickly forgot about last year's 40-30 loss.
"This was definitely a landmark day," Crouch said. "Last year's game did stick with us. It just kind of put together how it was all season."
The Huskers, who kept alive a slim shot at the national title thanks to Tennessee's loss to Arkansas, dominated the battle between two of the top four defenses in the country. Nebraska gained 253 yards by halftime on a defense that ranked No. 2 nationally at 232.3 per game. Nebraska, No. 4 nationally at 234.6 yards, limited K-State to 234, 170 below its average.
Nebraska finished with 378 yards offense, 227 coming from Crouch. He was 8-for-17 passing for 69 yards and set a Nebraska quarterback record with 27 carries.
"I'm willing to carry the ball 30 or 40 times if that's what they need from me," Crouch said. "I don't think they're going to put me in that situation, though."
They didn't need to Saturday.
Reserve running back Dahrran Diedrick, who came in during the second quarter in place of Dan Alexander and Correll Buckhalter as they continued to struggle wih fumbles, rushed for 93 yards. He scored on a 46-yard run that put Nebraska up 34-9 early in the fourth quarter.
Senior linebacker Eric Johnson, playing in his final home game, added a late touchdown on a 15-yard fumble recovery and Josh Brown kicked a 30-yard field goal.
Crouch had 124 yards rushing by halftime. He broke John Bordogna's school record of 25 carries set against K-State in 1952.
"We weren't very good. Not very good in all phases of the game. And they played awfully good," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "Any time you play a team that is as good at playing the option as Crouch and they are and couple that with excellent execution, you're in for a long day."
Jonathan Beasley was 3-for-19 passing for 100 yards for the Wildcats. Frank Murphy was K-State's leading rusher with 51 yards on 10 carries.
Beasley ran for a score and his backup, Adam Helm, added a late touchdown run for K-State.
Crouch put Nebraska up 7-0 in the first quarter on a 30-yard run, set up by Bobby Newcombe's 28-yard punt return that set up the Huskers at the K-State 44.
Nebraska got the ball back at the K-State 2 when Terence Newman fumbled the ensuing kickoff, only to give it up again right away on Buckhalter's fumble, his third at the goal line in the last four games.
The Huskers managed a safety out of it when Randy Stella blocked Mike Ronsick's punt out of the end zone. Nebraska then took the free kick and drove 73 yards on 11 plays, the last Crouch's 18-yard run. That put Nebraska up 16-0.
Willie Miller added a 5-yard touchdown run midway through the second and holder Frankie London scored on a fake extra-point attempt to give Nebraska a 24-9 lead.
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