LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska coach Bill Callahan's West Coast
offense finally is up and running.
Actually, it's up and passing.
Zac Taylor finished a record day with an 8-yard touchdown pass
to Cory Ross in the second overtime to give Nebraska a 27-20
victory over No. 23 Iowa State on Saturday.
The Cornhuskers (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) avoided losing to Iowa State
(3-1, 0-1) for the first time at home since 1977 and finally found
some offensive spark after muddling to wins in their first three
Taylor completed 36 of 55 passes for 431 yards on a day the
Huskers all but abandoned their running game. He set school records
for completions and yards.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world coming off that
field," Taylor said. "Luckily we got the win, and we had to throw
the ball to do it. I'm just glad Coach Callahan had faith in our
The Huskers had come into the game 108th in the nation in
passing and 107th in total offense. But with Iowa State using a lot
of man-to-man coverage, Callahan called on Taylor to pick apart the
Cyclones with short passes to 10 different receivers.
During one stretch of the first half, Callahan called 18
straight pass plays.
"We decided we were going to continue to press on with the
passing game," Callahan said. "We saw some things we wanted to do
in the passing game and we felt confident in our pass protection.
The circumstances surrounding the game dictated that we throw a
little bit more."
In typical West Coast style, the running back played a key role
in the passing game.
Ross set a school receiving record for a running back with eight
catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest gainer was a
70-yard touchdown off a dump pass in the third quarter.
"We won today, and I don't care how I get my yards," said
Ross, who ran for 32 yards on 15 carries. "The West Coast offense
is one of those where you can throw it 50 times. You never know
what's going to happen."
Taylor's most important pass also might have been his easiest,
as he found Ross alone in the flat on the winning touchdown with no
defenders within 10 yards of him.
The Cyclones picked up 10 yards on their first two plays of
their second overtime possession. But Bret Meyer passed incomplete,
ran for no gain and was off-target with his final two passes,
prompting the players on the Nebraska sideline to storm the field
The teams matched touchdown runs in the first overtime, with
ISU's Greg Coleman scoring from 10 yards and Ross from 1.
"This was a 15-rounder and then some," Iowa State coach Dan
McCarney said. "In the end Nebraska made more plays than we did."
Iowa State, the defending co-champion of the Big 12 North, lost
for the first time in five road games.
"The way it came down to double overtime and with all the
chances we had to win it, this one is going to sting," receiver
Todd Blythe said.
Nebraska was in position to win in regulation after driving to
the ISU 10 with under two minutes left. But on third-and-6 Taylor
was caught in the backfield by DeAndre Jackson and fumbled. Jackson
recovered, but Iowa State could do nothing offensively and had to
"That's a critical mistake," Taylor said. "We always stress
not having turnovers in the red zone, and it was just a bad play.
As soon as the ball came out, it was the worst feeling in the
world. Fortunately we were able to overcome it."
The Huskers got the ball back with 20 seconds, and Taylor took a
knee to force overtime.
Meyer was 23 of 41, with an interception, for 317 yards, and the
Cylones netted only 57 yards on the ground.
The Huskers went into the fourth quarter down 13-10 after Bret
Culbertson's 32-yard field goal late in the third quarter.
But Jordan Congdon tied it with a 23-yard field goal after Iowa
State stopped Taylor a yard short of the goal line on a
Ross' long touchdown broke a 3-3 tie in the third quarter, but
Iowa State responded with a five-play, 80-yard drive that Meyer
finished with a 2-yard pass to Walter Nickel.
Despite starting the season 3-0, Nebraska fans had become
impatient with the West Coast system after the Huskers scored a
total of only three offensive touchdowns in wins over weak
Going against the Big 12's worst rushing defense, the thought
was that Callahan would keep the ball on the ground.
He did just the opposite. The Huskers' 25 rushing attempts --
which gained only 36 yards -- tied the school record for fewest in a
"Bill Callahan knows what's doing," McCarney said, "so we
weren't surprised when they came out throwing the ball all over the
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... The Nebraska defense held Iowa State scoreless in the second OT after Cory Ross' 8-yard TD catch had put the Huskers ahead.
Gameball goes to... Zac Taylor who got the Nebraska passing game going. Taylor threw for 431 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat of the game... 46, 431: Taylor set Nebraska records with his 46 attempts and 431 yards passing.