There was no such problem this time. May's inability to penetrate the end zone, coupled with K-State's impotent ground attack (minus seven yards, counting 53 yards lost on sacks), repeatedly gave the ball to the Nebraska offense and its tireless front line. Said 300-pound Nebraska tackle Zach Wiegert, "It seemed like the holes started getting bigger and bigger as the day wore on." Big enough, by the fourth quarter, for Phillips and junior fullback Jeff Makovicka to eat up yardage in bigger chunks. Makovicka scored on a 15-yard burst to put the Cornhuskers ahead 14-6 with 11:01 left, and Nebraska clinched the victory on a 24-yard Darin Erstad field goal at 1:32.
"You know what they're going to run," said K-State linebacker Percell Gaskins. "You just have to stop it, and today we couldn't."
Some Husker players could appreciate the Wildcats' frustration. "They were looking at this game as their road to the Orange Bowl," said Phillips. "They were undefeated, so they had as big a right as us to think about the Orange Bowl."
And now? "I guess not anymore," he said, smiling.
Unanswered was the larger question: Can 7-0 Nebraska, with five conference games remaining—including an Oct. 29 clash with second-ranked Colorado in Lincoln—limp to a national championship with quarterbacks who can't throw downfield, run the option or take hits without leaking air?
Don't say never. Wounded animals are the most dangerous.