MANHATTAN, Kan. — Tom Osborne figures one of the greatest defensive games in Nebraska history ought to put the seventh-ranked Huskers right back in the national title hunt.
"Our defense played one of the finest games they ever played," the Nebraska coach said Saturday after the Huskers smothered No. 16 Kansas State, 39-3, defeating the Wildcats for the 28th consecutive year.
"One thing I was uncertain of was which was our real team, the one that played in Arizona or the team we thought we had," Osborne said. "Today I feel a lot better, a lot more confident."
The Cornhuskers (4-1 overall, 2-1 in the Big 12) tumbled from No. 1 when they were defeated by Arizona State, 19-0, on Sept. 21.
"If we lose this one, it's going to get tough in the Big 12 and the rest of the season," Osborne said. "I think right now we're still very much in the picture."
Nebraska freshman running back DeAngelo Evans, who had 8,473 yards in a brilliant high school career in Wichita, Kan., rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns and got booed every time his name was announced.
"I was surprised by that," he said. "It pumped me up, but I think it pumped up my teammates even more."
Kansas State (4-1, 1-1) was unbeaten coming into a game with Nebraska for the fourth straight year.
But the Wildcats were again dominated by the Cornhuskers, running 27 plays for zero yards and getting two punts blocked in the first half in falling behind, 18-3. Kansas State had 18 yards after the third quarter.
"We won't change our offense," said Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder. "We will just do better, and do the things we can do. What they did, they did very well. What we did, we did very poorly."
Evans put the game out of reach with a 69-yard touchdown run on the third play of the second half. He scored Nebraska's final touchdown on a five-yard run in the fourth quarter as Kansas State lost at home for only the fifth time since 1990.