Huskers overcome road woes against Baylor

If you would have used the first possession of the Baylor Bears as an indicator of how the game would go, the rumors of Nebraska's defense being dominant would quickly subside. Thankfully for the Cornhuskers it wasn't, but in a full team effort Nebraska hit the road for the first time, coming out with the victory, beating the Bears 23-14.

It seems Nebraska has a knack for interesting games.

A blocked field goal to win against Pitt. An overtime to win against Iowa State and a late fumble to lose to Texas Tech, all are chalk full of drama.

Nebraska went through a little this evening as they went on the road for the first time this year, heading down to Waco, Texas to face the 4-1 Baylor Bears.

And if you were a Baylor Bear fan, you probably should have turned the television off after the first drive, turning it back on around midway through the 3rd quarter.

That was when Baylor was at its best and it would seem for the latter timeframe, fate appeared to be on their side.

For the Bears' initial drive of the game, junior quarterback Shawn Bell started the home team out in style, driving the ball right down the field on the blackshirts, putting together a 14 play drive, accumulating 79 yards, Bell finishing the drive with a scramble to the front corner of the end zone for the TD.

In that drive, Bell completed 6-of-8 passes for 61 yards as Baylor burned 7:20 off the clock and burned the Huskers, taking the 7-0 lead.

So, the Husker defense didn't answer the bell right away, so it was up to the offense to take a little pressure off of their first road experience with some 15,000 plus Husker fans in attendance.

Zac Taylor answered those questions as he completed six of his first nine passes, for a total of 52 yards. The drive stalled, though, as Taylor missed on two straight passes from the Baylor 24, the Huskers having to endure the common frustration of trading in touchdowns for field goals instead.

It didn't take long for Nebraska to get back in rhythm on defense, the blackshirts amongst the best in the country at stopping the run, deliberate in making sure that if Baylor was going to pass, that's all they could do.

Sporting that one-dimensional philosophy, the Huskers held Baylor to 54 yards on the ground, almost a full 100 yards under their average per game for the season.

And following that initial drive where Bell had so much success, the increased pass rush had its effect, Bell going from completing 6 of his first 8, to completing just 8 out of his next 16 passes, the junior QB finishing with 14 completions on 25 attempts, totaling 181 yards and his touchdown rushing in that first drive would be the only offensive touchdown of the day.

Conversely, Nebraska's offense was moving the ball effectively on the Bears, while chewing up valuable ticks on the clock However, the second drive ended even more frustratingly than the first, senior running back Cory Ross fumbling the ball on the Baylor 6.

Ross's was a mixed bag of success, the senior leading the team in rushing with 93 yards on 26 carries, but he added two fumbles as well, one being recovered by the opposition. Spelling Ross were both of Nebraska's true freshman backs, Cody Glenn carrying the ball 12 times for 41 yards and Marlon Lucky, who toted the ball 7 times for a total gain of 18.

Following the Ross turnover, the defense answered once again, taking the Bears three plays and off the field, the series highlighted by a 12 yard sack by true freshman defensive end Barry Turner.

The offense got a little kick start on the ensuing drive, sophomore cornerback Cortney Grixby returning the Baylor punt 48 yards, Grixby getting tripped up, ultimately landing at the Baylor 9. It took just 3 plays to go the distance, Zac Taylor hitting sophomore wide receiver Terrence Nunn for a 4 yard touchdown, giving Nebraska the 10-7 lead.

That was Taylor's third touchdown pass to Nunn on the season, one of his two touchdown throws on the day. Zac finished the game hitting 18 of his 32 passes, throwing for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

The most dramatic of those touchdowns came in the third quarter, Nebraska now up 13-7 following a Jordon Congdon field goal from 29 yards out.

Taylor faded back, looked for receivers, but was forced up towards the line by the defensive pressure, Taylor then spinning left, going back to his right trying to evade the would-be tacklers. As Taylor was running at almost a sprinter's pace towards the sideline, he spied walk-on redshirt freshman, wideout Todd Peterson looking for the ball in the right corner of the end zone.

Taylor delivered as he was being hit, the ball sailing over a Bear defender around the goal line, Pederson making a leaping catch, landing in the end zone with the one foot needed for the score.

At 20-7, Nebraska looked to be all but putting Baylor away. The defense was working, the offense was humming and the sparse Baylor home crowd was seemingly even more sparse in their apparent lack of vocal enthusiasm for the game.

But then something happened

Bell completed a 70 yard pass to his top wideout on the evening, junior Dominique Ziegler, who spun senior safety Daniel Bullocks around, making the grab and wiggling out of a couple tackles, taking the ball all the way to the one yard line.

What happened then will probably be talked about for weeks to come, because Ziegler fumbled before he hit the ground, the ball was knocked into the end zone, but there wasn't a fumble called on the field at the time, the initial call being that Ziegler was down at the half-yard line of Nebraska.

Following a timeout by the Bears, the review from the booth came down and it was ruled that something the referee referred to as a "simultaneous recovery" was made, the ruling being, that when players from both teams take possession of a fumble at the same time, it's the offense that keeps the ball.

Baylor gets the touchdown.

Even the Baylor head coach was a little confused at what had actually happened. "I'm going to call the league office tomorrow and find out what is and isn't reviewable," Guy Morris said.

With the score now 20-14, Baylor seemed to have the momentum, the Bears stopping the Huskers on their next offensive possession, taking over with 3:44 left in the 3rd period and a chance to take the lead.

That chance never materialized, Baylor going three and out the following drive, fumbling the drive after, then followed by two straight interceptions thrown by back up quarterback Terrance Parks, the first picked off by junior cornerback Zack Bowman and the second, picked off by Daniel Bullocks.

Nebraska added a 22 yard field goal at 9:21 to go in the fourth quarter, taking the score to its ending total of 23-14.

With Nebraska's victory in Waco, the Huskers break a string of conference road losses, the Huskers dropping their last three. The win also takes Nebraska's record against the Bears to 9-1, the only loss coming to Baylor during the 50s.

Nebraska now moves their record to 5-1 overall, 2-1 in the conference and shares a tie for the division lead with the Colorado Buffaloes, who dropped their game today to the #2 Texas Longhorns.

Nebraska's next game will be another on the road, this one taking place in Columbia, Missouri as the Huskers face off against the Tigers. The kickoff is set for 11:30 A.M. and will be aired regionally on Fox Sports Net.

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