Nebraska Battered And Bruised In Oklahoma 62-28

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

Sam Bradford threw for 311 yards and five touchdowns as No. 4 Oklahoma capitalized on three terrible Nebraska pass plays right in the opening minutes Saturday night to the beat the Huskers 62-28.

Oklahoma's Dominique Franks intercepted Joe Ganz's first pass attempt and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown and the Huskers (5-4, 2-3 Big 12) also had turnovers on each of their next two passes as the Sooners (8-1, 4-1) raced to a 28-0 lead in the first 4 1/2 minutes and never looked back.

"We just really came out firing, really with everybody," said Sooners coach Bob Stoops. "I thought our guys really were focused in and came out and couldn't have executed much better in all parts of the game. It's a good way to start a big game."

Bradford went 19-for-27 and cleared 300 yards passing for the seventh time this season. It was the sixth time he tied the school record with five touchdown passes in a game.

Oklahoma had never scored more than 55 points in 83 previous meetings with Nebraska dating back to 1912, but got more than halfway to that total in no time.

"I've been in a lot of games, I've seen it happen," said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. "The snowball started rolling on us and we didn't do anything to get it stopped."

Chris Brown got it started by capping a seven-play, 53-yard opening drive with a two-yard touchdown run and only :04 ticked off the clock before Franks, a cornerback, stepped in front of Ganz's screen pass behind the line of scrimmage and took it in for another score.

Franks said the Huskers had a "real big tendency" to run the screen play out of that single-back, two wide receiver formation and he'd imagined making that kind of interception in days leading up to the game. "I just jumped it. I got a chance and I just made a play."

Dreu Young fumbled after catching Ganz's second pass and Oklahoma cashed in three plays later with a 48-yard pass from Bradford to Quentin Chaney, who had gotten behind safeties Larry Asante and Matt O'Hanlon.

Then coincidence turned into absurdity. I-back Marlon Lucky reached up to deflect Ganz's next pass high into the air and Lendy Holmes picked it off and returned it 26 yards. Bradford made it 28-0 on the next play by zipping a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham and there was still 9:27 left to play in the first quarter.

By that point Nebraska had run five offensive plays and committed three turnovers. "You can get all over somebody pretty quick and jump on them, it's big obviously," said Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "It gets them on their heels. It creates momentum, it creates points. It gets things a lot more comfortable out of the gate."

Pelini, a former defensive coordinator under Stoops and at Nebraska and LSU, took the blame for a "lousy" defensive performance and didn't allow his players to speak to reporters after the game.

"I'm responsible for what happened out there. I'm the voice of this team. I told our guys Oklahoma's over. We're moving on."

Brown tacked on a one-yard TD catch on the final offensive play of the first quarter, giving Oklahoma a 35-0 lead. It was the first time Nebraska had ever given up more than 28 points in any quarter.

"We didn't expect it, but at the same time we were just ready to play," Holmes said. "We knew this was a rival game. You can't be relaxing out there and just playing. You've got to play hard because you know they're going to come out here and play hard."

DeMarco Murray had two short touchdown runs and caught a 25-yard TD pass to tie Adrian Peterson's record for the most scores by a Sooners player in his first two seasons with 29.

Backup I-back Roy Helu ran 16 times for 157 yards and a touchdown for Nebraska, but all while the Huskers were trailing by at least 28 points.

"We saw last week how scores can change," Murray said. "We've just got to keep putting the pedal down and keep trying to stay focused."

Ganz finished 14-for-26 for 206 yards with one touchdown pass and the two early picks.

"Obviously, that wasn't what we wanted and it hurts," said Pelini. "The reality of it is if you coach in this game long enough, you play in this game long enough, you're going to face situations like this. Nobody likes it, but you have to move on."

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