Nebraska matched a school record by committing eight turnovers, including four inside the Iowa State five, as the Cyclones upset the Huskers 9-7 for their first victory in Lincoln since 1977.
Iowa State also ended a 15-game Big 12 losing streak in games played away from Ames. Before Saturday, Nebraska had won 126 straight games in which it held the opponent to 10 points or fewer. But it had been 456 games, since the 1972 Iowa State game, that the Huskers had been so careless with the ball.
"Eight turnovers?" Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said incredulously. "We could have gotten run out of the stadium. I don't know if I've ever been around that in my coaching career."
The Cyclones didn't commit any turnovers.
Nebraska all but gift-wrapped this one and first-year coach Paul Rhoads and his upstart Cyclones will gladly take it. "I feel really blessed to get this win and I know that's the way the rest of the team feels," said defensive tackle Nate Frere. "Whacky game, but that's how it goes sometimes."
Zac Lee was intercepted by Michael O'Connell and Jesse Smith in the final three minutes, ending Nebraska's comeback hopes.
Iowa State (5-3, 2-2), an 18 1/2-point underdog, was without its top two offensive playmakers because of injury and other players were physically ill before the game and during halftime because of a stomach bug.
ISU scored on Grant Mahoney's 52-yard field goal and Jerome Tiller's 47-yard touchdown pass to Jake Williams. Tiller was filling in for starter Austen Arnaud, who was out with an injury to his throwing hand. Tiller ran 19 times for 65 yards and completed 9-of-19 passes for 102 yards.
Jeremiah Schwartz picked up 50 yards on 22 carries as the replacement for Big 12 rushing leader Alexander Robinson, who sat out with a groin injury.
Nebraska (4-3, 1-2) lost its second straight at home. After last week's 31-10 loss to Texas Tech, Pelini reopened the competition for the starting quarterback's job. Lee, the season-long starter, played the whole game and finished 20-of-37 for 248 yards.
"We didn't play well around Zac," said Pelini. "We had dropped balls and bad execution around him. We had a chance to have a boatload of points on the board and we put the ball on the ground. We were lucky to be in the football game."
Iowa State converted two of Nebraska's three first-half turnovers into points. Mahoney's field goal put the Cyclones up 3-0 after Roy Helu Jr. fumbled on the game's first play from scrimmage.
Dontrayevous Robinson's 3-yard run gave Nebraska a 7-3 lead and the Huskers were on the verge of adding to it after drving to the Iowa State 16. That's when David Sims intercepted his fourth pass of the season on a freak play. Mike McNeill looked like he would be able to snag a tipped pass over the middle, but James Smith stripped it from the tight end and the closing-in Helu knocked it up in the air just enough to allow Sims to grab it before it hit the ground.
Tiller hit Williams on the touchdown pass the play after punter Mike Brandtner ran 20 yards for a first down on a fake. Mahoney had his extra-point kicked blocked, his fourth miss in four games.
Nebraska bungled another first-half scoring chance when Lee hit Niles Paul with a long pass along the sideline. But Paul was tripped up at the Iowa State 7 and the ball dropped out of his hands and into the end zone where Smith recovered for the Cyclones.
The Huskers turned over the ball on their first three possessions of the second half. Helu fumbled into the end zone, the Cyclones' Nate Frere stripped the ball from Robinson at the Cyclone 5 and Menelik Holt fumbled after catching a pass from Lee.
The Huskers still had chances to rally late, but O'Connell picked off a tipped pass and after Iowa State went three and out, Smith intercepted Lee.
After close losses to Kansas State and Kansas, the Cyclones have beaten Baylor and Nebraska in consecutive weeks and become a factor in the Big 12 North.
"When you don't win in a stadium on the road since 1977, it's big," Rhoads said. "This is a program that has as much tradition as anybody in college football. This is a program that was in the Top 25 a week ago. It's a big win."
"If you picked a place for your backup quarterback to start a game, I promise you it wouldn't be Memorial Stadium," Rhoads said. "He looked pretty cool to me and he had a lot of people hitting him. It was a very physical football game."
Still, the Huskers were never out of the game. "Anybody else who would have had that kind of advantage would have won by 30 or 40 points," Rhoads said. "Credit Nebraska. They have an unbelievable defensive football team and a coaching staff that got them to hang around."
"We had chances to win the game," said NU tight end Mike McNeill. "We just beat ourselves."
Designed by Gray Digital Media