Nebraska fans suffer through second straight blowoutPosted: Thursday January 03, 2002 11:57 PM
Updated: Friday January 04, 2002 1:03 AM
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Its offense bottled up, its defense in disarray, Nebraska didn't play like a team that belonged in a national championship game.
The Cornhuskers failed to back up a month's worth of boasting, losing to No. 1 Miami 37-14 in the Rose Bowl on Thursday night.
"We didn't play them well enough to make it a competitive game at the end," Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "I think any football team would have trouble staying with them the way they played tonight."
The fourth-ranked Huskers fell behind 34-0 by halftime and finished with just 259 yards of offense -- nearly 200 fewer than their average.
Two second-half touchdowns weren't enough to prevent the embarrassment of losing consecutive games for the first time since the 1990 season.
The Hurricanes (12-0) contained Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Eric Crouch in the first half and picked apart the Huskers' defense while keeping Nebraska (11-2) from winning its sixth national title.
Crouch finished with 114 yards rushing on 22 carries, but was just 5-of-15 for 61 yards passing with an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Dahrran Diedrick gained just 47 yards on 15 carries.
"They shut down our running game and they put us in a lot of situations where it was third-and-long," Crouch said. "They're a very fast defense and they made very good plays. They don't have a lot of breakdowns. They really played a great football game."
Nebraska's fans, about two-thirds of the capacity crowd of 93,781, had little to cheer for other than first downs until Judd Davies' 16-yard TD run with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
DeJuan Groce added a 71-yard punt return for a score early in the fourth quarter that got chants of "Go Big Red!" going again, but there wasn't enough time to overcome the deficit.
Miami gained 472 yards, including Ken Dorsey's 362 yards passing. Nebraska's defensive philosophy of trying to shut down the run and force Miami to pass backfired, when Dorsey recovered nicely from a poor first quarter with a tremendous second period -- 7-for-9 for 209 yards and three touchdown tosses.
The Huskers were playing their first game since losing at Colorado 62-36 on Nov. 23. The Buffaloes took a 31-3 lead early in that game and Nebraska's late comeback effort was futile.
It was the same theme Thursday, only worse. After a scoreless opening quarter, Miami rolled to five touchdowns in the second quarter. The Hurricanes' only mistake, pretty much, was a missed extra point.
The Huskers turned the ball over three times in the first 30 minutes.
"When you play a team like that you can't give them any breaks," Solich said. "The turnovers in the first half put us in a big enough hole that it was going to be very difficult to get out of it."
The loss against Colorado was generally considered to have knocked Nebraska out of title contention, but a series of upsets helped put the Huskers in the BCS title game. The Buffaloes and Ducks were higher in the media and coaches' polls but dropped behind Nebraska in the BCS computer ranking.
"The BCS critics are going to say 'I told you so,' " Diedrick said. "But I don't think there's a football team around that could play them as close as we did in the second half."