The Nebraska Cornhuskers claimed they weren’t angry about being left out of the Bowl Championship Series.
No. 9 Nebraska ended a disappointing season by setting a bowl record for points in a 66-17 victory over No. 18 Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl on Saturday night.
“We would have liked to be in a BCS game, but we put ourselves in this position,” said Matt Davison, who had two touchdown catches. “Hopefully, with an overpowering football game like this we can leave our legacy.”
The Cornhuskers (10-2) broke the bowl record set by Texas A&M; in a 65-21 victory over Virginia in the 1990 Holiday Bowl. Nebraska’s previous bowl high came in a 62-24 victory over Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.
“Finishing 10-2 is a great record. This is a great football team and hopefully everybody can see that,” Davison said.
Dan Alexander ran for 240 yards and two touchdowns and Eric Crouch ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more for Nebraska, which shut out Northwestern (8-4) in the second half.
After falling behind 10-7 early in the first quarter, the Cornhuskers outscored Northwestern, 59-7, the rest of the way.
Nebraska Coach Frank Solich, hoping to finish with a top-five ranking, didn’t pull his starters until about 10 minutes were left with Nebraska leading, 59-17.
“We felt all year long like we were one of the best teams in the country. We still feel like that,” Solich said. “This team showed what it was capable of.”
Correll Buckhalter scored twice and Bobby Newcombe caught a touchdown pass and threw another to Davison as the Cornhuskers set several records for the 8-year-old bowl. Davison had two touchdown receptions.
Damien Anderson ran for 149 yards and a touchdown for Northwestern.
The overmatched Wildcats helped Nebraska by routinely giving up great field position in the first half. Nebraska’s worst field position of the half was its own 36. The Cornhuskers opened three drives in Northwestern territory and one on the 50 while taking a 38-17 halftime lead.
“We’re not going to internalize this failure, but we’re not going to burn the tape, either,” Northwestern Coach Randy Walker said. “This one game doesn’t diminish in any way what we accomplished.”
The Wildcats, who were 3-8 last year in Walker’s first season, were in only their fourth bowl.
“Any time I sensed a little bit of a momentum change they just struck right back. That’s what great football teams do,” Walker said.
Nebraska didn’t let up in the second half, scoring 21 points in the third quarter while improving to 2-1 in bowl games under Solich and 20-19 overall in bowls.
Nebraska needed only five plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 15-yard run by Alexander just 2:11 into the game. Alexander added a two-yard touchdown run in the second and had 119 yards by halftime, setting an Alamo Bowl record.
Crouch had a 50-yard touchdown run and Buckhalter and Newcombe each scored before halftime. Newcombe caught a short pass and easily outran the Wildcats for a 58-yard score with 20 seconds left.
Newcombe set up Buckhalter’s two-yard run that put the Cornhuskers up, 28-10, with a 32-yard punt return to the Northwestern 10. He added a 69-yard touchdown pass to Davison that made the score 58-17 late in the third quarter.
Wildcat fans booed the pitch pass from the former quarterback, who had no trouble hitting a wide-open Davison for the touchdown.
“Bobby and I have been together a long time,” said Davison, who along with Newcombe was playing his final game for Nebraska. “We always talk about it and we practice that play all the time.”