From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, Iowa State could never seem to get anything going on offense and the defense spent most of the time on the run as Nebraska piled up 548 yards of offense.
Nebraska quarterback, Joe Ganz, had a field day on the passing side of the football, completing 27 of 37 for 328 and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Cyclones came out of the gates with some fire, forcing a fumble by Ganz to gain possession at the Nebraska 49 yard line. However, the offense started their first of many three-and-out series, which ultimately cost Iowa State the game.
The Cornhuskers cashed in on their next series. Ganz found wide receiver Nate Swift on a crossing route, which resulted in a 19-yard touchdown reception. Swift, who finished the day with eight receptions for 112 yards, found himself open underneath the Cyclone defensive backs the entire game.
Iowa State focused on stopping the inside rushing game of the Cornhuskers and had success doing it. But Nebraska exploited the weakness of the Cyclone defense by running outside the hashes and even showing a glimpse of the old Nebraska option running game, which running back Marlon Lucky scored on from 15 yards out to make it 14-0 after the Cyclone's offense sputtered to another three-and-out.
Iowa State did not put up much of a fight in the first half, heading into the locker room at the half down 21-0 and producing a measly 45 yards of total offense. The Cyclones converted only 1 of 6 third downs in the first half and held the ball for 9:15, compared to Nebraska's 20:40.
"The offense in the first half only having two first downs doesn't give you much hope," said head coach Gene Chizik. "It's very disheartening, and I'm proud of our guys for keep fighting, but at some point that's not good enough."
At the start of the second half, there was still a bit of optimism for the Cyclones when sophomore running back Alexander Robinson exploded through the line on the second play from scrimmage for a 67-yard touchdown run. The run was the longest of his career, but more importantly, it gave the Cyclones the energy they needed.
Everything was looking good for Iowa State after the defense came out and forced a Nebraska punt. The teams exchanged a pair of three-and-out series before a crucial moment in the game.
With the Cyclone offense driving, quarterback Austen Arnaud ran a bootleg off of a play action to Robinson and found tight end Derrick Catlett at the Nebraska 26 yard line. On his way out of bounds, Catlett was stripped by Pierre Allen and the Cornhuskers recovered the ball, completely taking the life out of the stadium.
Arnaud finished the day 16-29 for 113 yards passing, and knows the offense must pick things up if the Cyclones are going to succeed.
"This offense is anxious, and we've had our times this year when we've moved the ball and can't be stopped. The play calls are going to work, we just have to go out there and execute them."
There would be one last glimmer of hope for ISU after that big fumble, and it came right away on Nebraska's first play. Ganz hit Todd Peterson for a simple five-yard out route to the sideline, but defensive back Leonard Johnson laid a punishing hit on Peterson and recovered the ball after forcing a fumble.
The Cyclone's never got in rhythm, and wasted the opportunity. Later on in the fourth quarter, still trailing 21-7, the defense forced a Nebraska punt with plenty of time on the clock to mount a comeback. All hope was lost though after return man Devin McDowell coughed up the football deep inside Cyclone territory. From there, Ganz and company punched it in for an insurmountable 28-7 lead.
Overall, the Cyclone offense had possibly its worst showing ever after putting up only 218 total yards, with 67 of them coming on the Robinson touchdown. Defensively, Iowa State was pushed up and down the field and just too worn out to stop the Cornhuskers.
"Offensively we can't get anything going," Chizik said. "We had a little bit a of spark there on that run by Alexander Robinson, but other than that for the most part it was hard-run football."
Chizik was more than appalled with the lackluster performance by the Cyclone offense. In fact, the offense was so anemic, that punter Mike Brandtner had 140 more yards kicking than the entire offense could muster up.
"We're out of synch offensively; we're not consistent at all. Defensively, it's kind of spot play, and they try hard and they're holding on, holding on, holding on, then something big happens."
Despite the pounding Iowa State took, Chizik says his team will be back next Saturday for a Homecoming game against Big 12 cellar dweller Texas A&M.
"Since the first half the Kansas game, we have gone backwards as a football team," Chizik said. "We have got to get on the downward spiral and get this under control."
"We are going to get back to practice tomorrow and work on things. I know that when we're not good, we don't execute and when we are, we do."