Nebraska's defense made its statement early, setting up three first-quarter touchdowns in the No. 6 Cornhuskers' 38-14 win Saturday. The Huskers allowed just 45 yards all rushing in the first half and shut the Cowboys out for nearly three quarters.
"We had to prove to them that our defense was No. 1 not their defense. I think we proved our point," said linebacker Julius Jackson, who had one of two Nebraska sacks. "I don't think it's any different from any other week. We come in with a good game plan, we execute and we shut them out."
The Cornhuskers were more concerned after the game with a few big plays in the second half that balanced out the statistics.
Still, the Cornhuskers (5-0 overall, 2-0 Big 12) were never threatened as they extended their unbeaten streak over Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1) to 36 games. Eric Crouch threw for a touchdown and ran for another and Correll Buckhalter ran for a pair of TDs for the Cornhuskers, who led 31-0 at halftime.
Crouch, who was 7-for-13 for 145 yards, also gained 61 yards on 11 carries to lead the Huskers, who haven't lost to Oklahoma State since 1961. Nebraska gained 378 yards, 240 rushing, against a defense that had allowed an average of only 182.3 total yards coming into the game. Oklahoma State entered the game ranked third nationally in total defense, followed by the Huskers at No. 4 (195.3).
"I thought we mixed it up pretty well in the first half. I think that's the kind of offense we need to have," Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "It might not be a deal where we get 300 yards rushing every game. If you're able to make big plays, that's really a key."
Trcey Wistrom had 116 yards on four receptions, including a 16-yard touchdown pass from Crouch, and Dan Alexander scored on a 6-yard run. Josh Brown had a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter that put Nebraska up 24-0.
B.J. Tiger was 3-for-11 for 40 yards with a touchdown for Oklahoma State and Jamaal Fobbs added a 4-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter against Nebraska's reserves. It was the fifth touchdown allowed by Nebraska's defense this season. Fobbs led Oklahoma State with 67 rushing yards.
The game was about the opposite of a year ago, when Oklahoma State couldn't score from the 1-yard line on the final play and the Cornhuskers held on for a 24-17 win. Nebraska nearly put Saturday's game away in the first quarter with three touchdowns, all set up by the Huskers' defense.
A fumbled handoff, a bad punt and a blocked punt within a 10-minute span gave the Huskers a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
"I've always said that when you play a team like Nebraska that does not beat themselves, you cannot make mistakes and hope to beat them," said Oklahoma State coach Bob Simmons, who fell to 0-2 against the Huskers.
Nebraska got the ball on its own 47 when Oklahoma State tailback Nathan Simmons, the coach's son, fumbled a handoff on the Cowboys' first play from scrimmmage. It took the Huskers nine plays to drive 51 yards, scoring on Crouch's 4-yard run on an option.
"When I say mistakes I mean simple things as a quarterback handing off to the tailback and getting it snuggly in the pocket," Bob Simmons said.
On the next series, the Cornhuskers got the ball back on their 49 when Scott Elder's punt bounced backward. Crouch's 47-yard pass to Wistrom on the first play set up Correll Buckhalter's 2-yard run on the next.
Oklahoma State tried to punt again on the next series, but the kick was blocked by Brian Shaw and recovered at the Cowboys 8. Buckhalter scored on the next play.
The Cowboys didn't complete a pass and had just 45 rushing yards as the Cornhuskers took a 31-0 halftime lead.
The Cowboys scored with six minutes to play on Tiger's 6-yard pass to Marcellus Rivers to cap a nine-play, 80-yard drive. That cut Nebraska's lead to 38-7.
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