Donahue tried surprising the Corn-huskers by using a Bruins oldie but goodie, the I formation, on a number of plays. The tactic failed. "I did some good things," said UCLA quarterback Matt Stevens, a sophomore making his first start. "It seems like I was an inch away all game." Maybe, but it looked more like a mile. Stevens ended up completing only 13 of 28 passes—overall, the Bruins threw the ball 43 times—and he was sacked seven times.
Bruin cornerback Ron Pitts could only shake his head. "It was the Nebraska we expected," he said. "Nothing they did shocked us. We prepared for their looks, but they just executed."
That, typically, is what Nebraska does. Just a bunch of farm boys—14 of the 22 starters are from Nebraska—who will crunch you. Says Swanson, a ranch kid from Hershey, Neb., "Every little boy in Nebraska dreams of playing for Nebraska." In no other state is the dream of playing for State U. so all-consuming.
The proposition that the Huskers may be a better team than they were last year, despite having less-talented players, takes some getting used to. But, as Smith says, "Around Nebraska, we always look at the people we lose and we say, 'Wow, what will we do next year?' Then we do something better."