Friday, December 13, 2002
Nebraska 66, Northwestern 17
SAN ANTONIO -- Dan Alexander ran for 240 yards as No. 8 Nebraska set a bowl scoring record with a 66-17 victory over No. 19 Northwestern on Saturday night in the Alamo Bowl.
Eric Crouch ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more scores to help the Cornhuskers (10-2) break the bowl record set by Texas A&M in a 65-21 victory over Virginia in the 1990 Holiday Bowl. Nebraska's previous bowl high came in a 62-24 victory over Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.
The Huskers, who were openly disappointed at not receiving a Bowl Championship Series bid, took it out on the co-Big 10 champion Wildcats (8-4).
After falling behind 10-7 early in the first quarter, the Huskers outscored Northwestern 59-7 the rest of the way.
Nebraska coach Frank Solich, hoping to finish a disappointing season with a Top 5 ranking, didn't pull his starters until about 10 minutes were left with Nebraska leading 59-17.
Correll Buckhalter scored twice and Bobby Newcombe caught a TD pass and threw another to Matt Davison as the Cornhuskers set several records for the 8-year-old bowl. Davison had two TD catches.
Damien Anderson ran for 149 yards and a touchdown for Northwestern.
The overmatched Wildcats helped Nebraska by routinely giving up great field position in the first half. Nebraska's worst field position of the half was its own 36. The Huskers opened three drives in Northwestern territory and one on the 50 while taking a 38-17 halftime lead.
Nebraska set a school bowl record with 31 points in the second quarter, topping the 29 points the Huskers scored in the second against Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.
The Huskers didn't let up in the second half, scoring 21 points in the third quarter while improving to 2-1 in bowl games under Solich and 20-19 overall in bowls.
Nebraska needed only five plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 15-yard run by Alexander just 2:11 into the game. Alexander added a 2-yard touchdown run in the second and had 119 yards by halftime, setting an Alamo Bowl record.
Crouch had a 50-yard TD run and Buckhalter and Newcombe each scored before halftime. Newcombe caught a short pass and easily outran the Wildcats for a 58-yard score with 20 seconds left.
Newcombe set up Buckhalter's 2-yard run that put the Huskers up 28-10 with a 32-yard punt return to the Northwestern 10. He added a 69-yard TD pass to Davison that made it 58-17 late in the third quarter. Wildcats fans booed the pitch pass from the former quarterback, who had no trouble hitting a wide-open Davison for the touchdown.
Josh Brown set a personal best and Alamo Bowl record with a 51-yard field goal late in the second for Nebraska. His previous best was 42 yards and the Alamo Bowl record was 49 by Texas A&M's Kyle Bryant against Michigan in 1995.
Northwestern had taken advantage of a special teams blunder by Nebraska for a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. Keyuo Craver was called for pass interference on a fake punt, setting the Wildcats up at the Nebraska 21. Zak Kustok hit Teddy Johnson with a 10-yard pass for the Wildcats' only lead of the game.
Northwestern also had a 44-yard field goal by Tim Long in the first quarter.
Alexander broke his personal best of 208 yards set in the season opener against San Jose State and he shattered the Alamo Bowl record of 113 yards Iowa's Sedrick Shaw had against Texas Tech in 1996.
The 66 points scored by Nebraska nearly doubled the previous highs in the Alamo Bowl. Penn State beat Texas A&M 37-3 last year and Purdue topped Kansas State 37-34 in 1998 for the previous highs.