Tommie Frazier ran for three touchdowns and passed for another as the fourth-ranked Cornhuskers routed No. 24 West Virginia, 31-0, on Sunday in the opening game of college football's 125th season.
"All summer, as we went through conditioning, we felt we had something to prove to the world," Nebraska linebacker Danta Jones said. "Today was the day to shine."
And nobody played better than Frazier, who rushed for 130 yards in 12 carries and completed eight of 16 passes for 100 yards.
"I guess you could say I was in the right place at the right time," he said. "My blockers gave me great blocks."
Both teams went 11-0 last season before losing bowl games. Nebraska missed a last-second field goal and fell to Florida State, 18-16, in a national title showdown in the Orange Bowl. West Virginia was clobbered by Florida, 41-7, in the Sugar Bowl.
The way the Cornhuskers played in the sweltering 90-degree heat Sunday at Giants Stadium, they appear capable of reaching another championship game this season.
West Virginia didn't cross midfield until it recovered a fumble early in the fourth quarter and was shut out for the first time since a 19-0 loss to Penn State in 1986.
"They had the ball so much, our defense just got worn out," said Mountaineer Coach Don Nehlen. "You can't let a team run 48 plays in the first half in this heat and humidity."
Nebraska gained 285 yards and 17 first downs in the first half while holding West Virginia to four yards and two first downs. For the game, the Cornhuskers outgained the Mountaineers 468-89, including 368-8 on the ground.
Nebraska sophomore Lawrence Phillips filled the gap left by the departure of star tailback Calvin Jones, rushing for 126 yards in 24 carries.
Frazier, a junior who has directed Nebraska's option attack since midway through his freshman season, helped the Cornhuskers take command in the second quarter after going ahead, 3-0, on Tom Sieler's 32-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Frazier scored on runs of 25 and 27 yards and completed a 12-yard touchdown pass play to Reggie Baul to give Nebraska a 24-0 halftime lead. He added a 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
"I'm proud of Tommie," Coach Tom Osborne said. "He made some great plays, and some not so good. But obviously the big advantage we had coming into this game was at quarterback. He had the experience. He has been there before."
Sophomores Chad Johnston and Eric Boykin alternated at quarterback for West Virginia, but neither could move the team and they were sacked a total of eight times.
Johnston was sacked three times and had one pass intercepted in his first college start.
West Virginia's Robert Walker, who gained a school-record 1,250 yards last season, was held to 46 yards in 12 carries by Nebraska's quick, aggressive defense.
The only bright spot for the Mountaineers was All-Big East punter Todd Sauerbrun, who averaged 60 yards on nine kicks, including a school-record 90-yarder in the first quarter.