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A Red-Letter Day as Nebraska and Crouch Pass Test

September 24, 2000|From Associated Press

Eric Crouch made nearly every pass count against Iowa, and No. 1 Nebraska came away with another victory.

Crouch threw only 13 passes Saturday, but the results couldn't have been much better--10 completions, five touchdowns and a 42-13 victory over the Hawkeyes at Lincoln, Neb.

"You like our new offensive approach?" Crouch joked after tying the school record for touchdown passes in a game.

Nebraska (3-0) will never be confused with a passing team and even though most of its points came through the air, the Cornhuskers ran for 331 yards against the Hawkeyes (0-4).

Dan Alexander rushed for 113 yards, Correll Buckhalter 100 and Crouch 93.

But all the Cornhuskers' points came as the result of passes. Crouch, who was 11 for 25 for only one touchdown going into Saturday's game, threw three touchdown passes to Tracey Wistrom and two to Matt Davison. He finished with 159 passing yards.

"It's great to know our passing game is there when we need it," Crouch said. "We've still only thrown what, 38 passes so far? That's not a lot. It's not like it was an air show or the West Coast offense or anything like that. We run the ball, that's what we do."

Crouch tied the school record for touchdown passes in a game set by Steve Taylor in 1987. Crouch topped his previous best of three scoring passes against Kansas State in 1998.

"You would never know they are not a passing team," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "What makes them so dangerous is their running game. They set up the run so well that the pass hurts you."

The game was far from the expected blowout. The Cornhuskers, off last week, needed overtime to beat Notre Dame two weeks ago.

Against Iowa, Nebraska fumbled three times, losing the ball once after driving to the Iowa 10-yard line.

"Our defense did a great job of not allowing them to put points on the board," Nebraska Coach Frank Solich said. "You can allow them to rack up yards, as long as they're not racking up points."

The Hawkeyes matched a school record with their 12th consecutive loss.

"The guys were trying hard and giving good effort. We've just got to play smarter, more disciplined football," Ferentz said.

An unranked team hasn't beaten No. 1 since Michigan State upset Ohio State in 1998. The Hawkeyes stayed within range until late in the fourth quarter.

The Cornhuskers weren't able to decide the outcome until Crouch's four-yard touchdown pass to Wistrom with 1:27 left. Troy Watchorn added a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown with 55 seconds left.

The Hawkeyes, who last lost 12 in a row in the 1973-74 seasons, finished with 47 yards rushing. Scott Mullen completed 19 of 40 passes for 252 yards, but he had two passes intercepted and he was sacked four times.

Iowa shocked Nebraska by taking a 7-0 lead on a 29-yard pass from Mullen to Kevin Kasper, who jumped between two defensive backs for the catch.

Nebraska tied the score on the next possession when Crouch teamed with Davison on a 31-yard touchdown-pass play that capped a 10-play, 86-yard drive.

No. 4 Kansas State 55, North Texas 10--The Wildcats beat up on another weak opponent as quarterback Jonathan Beasley scored a school-record five rushing touchdowns at Manhattan, Kan.

The victory for the Wildcats (4-0) over the winless Mean Green came one week after a 76-0 humiliation of winless Ball State.

Kansas State, which held a 38-3 halftime lead, finished with 477 yards to 138 for North Texas (0-4). North Texas is coached by former Kansas State quarterback Darrell Dickey, who was impressed by Beasley.

"He might be one of the best they've ever had," Dickey said. "He can beat you in so many ways."

Beasley beat the Mean Green with his running. He had one-yard scoring runs on the first two possessions for Kansas State, added a two-yard touchdown run and another from one yard before getting the record with a zig-zagging 16-yard scamper in the third quarter to give the Wildcats a 48-3 lead.

Beasley completed 12 of 15 passes for 202 yards.

"I'm more comfortable now with the offense," Beasley said. "Just go out there and execute the game plan and get us in the right play."

No. 15 Texas 48, Houston 0--The Longhorns (2-1) scored three touchdowns on turnovers and smothered one of the nation's best passing attacks in beating the Cougars (1-3) at Austin, Texas.

Dakarai Pearson and O.J. McClintock returned interceptions for touchdowns and Michael Ungar recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone.

Texas had eight sacks.

Houston's Jason McKinley, who led the nation with 346.3 yards passing per game, completed only 14 of 34 passes for 173 yards and had two passes intercepted before leaving in the fourth quarter.

No. 17 Oklahoma 42, Rice 14--The wishbone made a less-than-triumphant return to the Sooner State as Rice's option attack got shut down at Norman, Okla.

In a vast departure from its wishbone past, Oklahoma (3-0) had 532 yards against Rice (1-3) as Josh Heupel completed 27 of 35 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown.

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