LINCOLN, Neb. -- Iowa State had looked mighty impressive in winning its first three games of the season. So impressive, in fact, that the Cyclones were full of confidence heading into Saturday's game against No. 4 Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.
It took only a few minutes, however, for reality to kick in and the game to turn into another one-sided contest dominated by the Huskers.
Nebraska, behind record-setting quarterback Eric Crouch, routed the Cyclones 48-14, defeating Iowa State for the eighth straight time and the 80th overall. The Cornhuskers won for the sixth time in as many tries this season and the third time under the lights on Tom Osborne Field Crouch, a senior who continues to gain momentum in a Heisman Trophy campaign, rushed for 104 yards and four touchdowns and completed 10 of 14 passes for 110 yards as the Cornhuskers racked up 476 total yards, including 359 on the ground. Dahrran Diedrick led Nebraska with 107 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Nebraska's defense and special teams also contributed heavily, the Blackshirts setting the tone early when Keyuo Craver returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown just two minutes into the game. Nebraska also turned a blocked punt into a score, reaching the end zone on five of its first six possessions while racing to a 41-0 halftime lead.
Crouch, meanwhile, took center stage while adding his name to the NCAA record books. The Millard North product not only passed Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier as Nebraska's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, but his 51 career rushing touchdowns surpassed the NCAA mark of 49 for a quarterback, set by Kareem Wilson of Ohio from 1995 to 1998.
"Somebody mentioned it to me and I was kind of surprised to hear that," said Crouch. "Records are something I try not to think too much about.
"I just try to go out there and play the game I love, and help my team the best I can."
Crouch's night ended with 46 seconds left in the third quarter when he left the field after being hit by a blitzing Marc Timmons on a pass completion to Tracey Wistrom. He was replaced by sophomore Jammal Lord, who engineered the Huskers' final scoring drive of the game.
Robin Miller, a fourth-string I-back, plunged over from the one for Nebraska's final touchdown with just over a minute remaining. Lord marched the Huskers 83 yards in 16 plays.
"I'm proud of the way our kids have responded for six games in a row," said Nebraska Coach Frank Solich, now unbeaten in four games against Iowa State.
"In the first half, I thought we executed well. We lost a little momentum in the second half, but Iowa State continued to play hard like they always have.
"Certainly, there are some areas that need to be improved, but we forced a few turnovers that were critical early in the game. Iowa State is capable of moving the ball, but our defense, for the most part, came up with plays when they needed to."
While Crouch stole the show in the first half, Iowa State's Seneca Wallace, a 6-1, 184-pound junior who played the last two seasons at Sacramento City, Calif. Junior College, did the best he could to rally the Cyclones in the second half.
First came a 17-yard touchdown run with 7:28 left in the third quarter, a play in which the elusive Wallace raced from sideline-to-sideline, dodging a number of Husker defenders en route to the end zone. Then, he completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Lance Young, capping an impressive 65-yard march.
Iowa State's offense put up some good numbers, finishing with 336 total yards. Wallace completed 13 of 29 passes for 176 yards and rushed for 45 yards on 14 totes, but it was not enough to prevent the Cornhuskers from winning their 18th consecutive home game.
Iowa State, which last beat Nebraska in 1992, still hasn't won here since the 1977 campaign. On a positive note, the Cyclones held the Nebraska offense to its lowest output at home in this series since 1981, when NU totaled 272 yards on a 31-7 victory.
"They are really an outstanding football team. It was complete domination by Nebraska in the first half," said Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney. "We didn't block. We didn't tackle. We didn't do anything on special teams. We didn't do a good job of coaching. They were all over us.
"In the second half, at least I challenged them to show the fiber and the character of the football team. When you are down like that, it is no fun to play or coach in a game like that.
"But you find out if people will come back and respond and react to real bad adversity and I thought the kids did that in the second half."
Nebraska's Craver, a senior, stepped in front of a pass intended for Jack Whitver and raced down the sidelines for a 57-yard score on the game's first series. Iowa State had ripped off gains of 16 and 20 yards on its first two plays, but Wallace's third pass wound up in the hands of the speedy Craver, an outstanding high school running back in Houston, Texas.
DeJuan Groce returned a punt 34 yards, setting up Nebraska's second touchdown, a 2-yard run by Diedrick at the 8:49 mark of the first quarter.
Groce then victimized Wallace again, picking off a pass at the Cyclone 23.
That set up the first of Crouch's four first-half touchdowns, a 1-yard sneak with 1:20 remaining.
The Huskers also put together drives of 87 and 92 yards, each ending with scoring runs by Crouch. Crouch broke the quarterback rushing touchdown record on a 25-yard option with 3:54 left in the half.
With the Cyclones lined up to punt deep in their own territory, Nebraska's Troy Hassebroek broke through to block the punt, with Lornell McPherson recovering at the 10. Crouch snuck over from the 1 with 1:09 left, making the score 41-0.
Thunder Collins, another of Nebraska's highly touted backs, tacked on 62 rushing yards and caught five passes for 33 yards. Collins, a junior from Los Angeles, lined in several different formations in order for the Huskers to utilize his talents.
Iowa State's Ennis Haywood, last year's Big 12 rushing leader, finished with 61 yards on 20 carries. Haywood moved to 10th on the Cyclones' career rushing chart with 2,151 yards.
According to Nebraska records, the Huskers now lead the overall series 80-14-2. Iowa State records, however, have Nebraska leading 79-15-2. The reason for the disputed records occurred in 1907, when a late Iowa State drop-kick bounced over the crossbar for an apparent Cyclone lead of 13-10, but the referee declared that the ball didn't bounce over the bar. The game ended with Nebraska in front 10-9. Iowa State appealed to Walter Camp, the Yale legend and rules guru, who said the goal should have counted and given Iowa State the victory.