Back to winning ways. Huskers route Cyclones

Despite three turnovers by the Huskers, Nebraska ended a three-game losing streak in style, crushing the Iowa State Cyclones, 35-7. Led by another potent offensive attack by the big red and complimented by perhaps the best defensive showing of the year, the Huskers move to 4-3 on the year.

There was little doubt going into this game Nebraska needed a win.

Not just to get back above .500, but to keep the momentum going from the hard fought overtime loss down in Lubbock, Texas, which seemed to fuel this team throughout the week of practices leading up to the game.

The Huskers didn't waste any time grabbing that momentum in the first half, Joe Ganz engineering a stellar offensive performance as Nebraska totaled a whopping 349 yards in total offense, Ganz with 283 of that through the air. That 283 yards by Ganz in the first half tied his career high for a half, Ganz duplicating his second-half effort against Kansas State last season. "I thought Joe (Ganz) ran the offense well. We are hard to defend right now because we are keeping the defense off balance," he said. "We executed pretty well. I was disappointed though because I thought we left 14 points on the field in the first half."

If there was a negative for the game, that was it, the game not starting off well, Ganz fumbling on the first drive of the game. Iowa State took over at the 50-yard line. But the Husker defense held up on their first series, the Cycolne-drive ultimately stopped with a pass break up by senior cornerback Armando Murillo.

Following the punt, Nebraska took over backed up deep in their own territory, the Huskers going into their second possession from their own eight yard line.

But then it was the Joe Ganz/Nate Swift show, the senior QB hitting the senior WR five times for 64 yards on the drive, including a 19-yard touchdown catch where Swift caught the ball, turned up field, bounced off a tackler and then sprinted and lunged into the end zone for the score. With his 112 receiving yards today, Swift became the second player in school history with 2,000 career receiving yards, his 2,021 career receiving yards second only to Johnny Rodgers' 2,479 career yards. Swift's career reception total stands at 136, moving him into a tie for second on the career list with Terrence Nunn. The total trails only Rodgers' school record of 143 catches.

The Huskers held the Cyclones in check their first two offensive possessions, Iowa State totaling 25 yards on just nine plays, ISU holding onto the ball for just 1:22. The Huskers, on the other hand, kept their rhythm going from last week's 40-minute plus possession game against Texas Tech, keeping the ball for over nine minutes of the first quarter, totaling 124 yards against the Cyclone "D." The Cyclones finished the game with 220 yards in total offense, a season-best for the Husker defense this year. But in the first half ISU quarterback Austin Arnaud and company could only manage 45 yards, 33 of that coming through the air.

While Nebraska didn't top their 40-plus minutes of possession last week against Texas Tech (37:11), they finished the game only one snap shy of the 80 plays racked up against the Red Raiders, Ganz and company totaling 554 yards, one yard better than their previous season best, that coming against New Mexico State in week three.

Nebraska's defense showed up as well, especially in the first half, the Huskers opening up the second quarter in style as senior defensive end Zach Potter got the jump off the edge against one-on-one protection, turning the corner and crushing quarterback Austin Aurnad for the sack, Potter's now team-leading third of the season.

That sack forced a punt for the Cyclones, and after taking over on its own 15- yard line, it was 11 plays and 85 yards, the Huskers drive  finished off with senior running back Marlon Lucky taking an option pitch off the right side from the 21-yard line, making one player miss and then pushing his way through the final three yards and end for the score. On the game Lucky averaged over four yards per carry as he totaled 74 yards on 15 rushes, scoring twice.

The only negatives for the Huskers came in the way of a one-play lapse on defense, Iowa State running the ball into the end zone from 67 yards out on just the second play of the second half, closing Nebraska's lead, 21-7.

The other lapse came via the turnover, Nebraska putting the ball on the ground an unsettling five times, losing three of those to the Cyclones. The good news is that Iowa State couldn't capitalize on any of those errors, the three drives resulting in a punt, the end of the half and a missed field goal, respectively. Needless to say, though, the Husker Head Coach wasn't pleased. "We have to work on turnovers. You cannot work on ball security more than our offense does. We have to take care of the football. We left a lot of points on the field today," Pelini said. "We came out of this football game better than we came in and that is progress, and as I told the team, we have a long way to go."

In what ended up being a fairly sloppy second half for both teams, the Huskers and Cyclones traded dropped balls, punts and turnovers going into the fourth quarter of play. Nebraska then sealed the game with two straight touchdowns on offense, Ganz running in from the one-yard line to make it 28-7, followed by sophomore Quentin Castille running in untouched from 19 yards out, taking the score to its eventual final, 35-7.

The overall game couldn't live up to near perfection in the first half by the offense and a stellar showing on defense, but the Huskers came away with the win. In addition, the Huskers committed just four penalties on the game, their lowest number of the year, and the only one attributed to the offensive line was a false start on an extra point try by sophomore tackle Marcel Jones.

Add to that Nebraska's first takeaway since New Mexico State, this a forced fumble courtesy of sophomore defensive end Pierre Allen, Nebraska was doing it in most every aspect of the game. "The players feel themselves getting better. It is an everyday thing. Every day that we walk out onto the field it provides us an opportunity to get better," Pelini said. "We cannot waste an opportunity. Our players are coming to work. They see the necessity of getting better. If we just stay with it, we can finish this season well."

The Huskers move to 4-3 on the year, 1-2 in the Big 12, and will be back in Lincoln for next week's game against Baylor and fellow first-year Head Coach Art Briles.


Big Red Report Top Stories