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Official Husker Locker Blog

2009 Oct 24

ISU GAME: Fumbled Away


By HuskerLocker

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A program-making win for Iowa State. A full, dark shudder for Nebraska, especially its offense, which came unglued with a school-record eight turnovers in every awful way one can imagine.

ISU – without its starting quarterback and running back, with just 239 total yards – stunned NU 9-7 Saturday afternoon in front of crowd of pale, grim faces, who hadn't seen the Cyclones beat the Cornhuskers in Lincoln in 32 years. Who hadn't seen Nebraska commit eight turnovers in 37 years. Who had to settle with themselves, for that particular moment in time, that Nebraska had just suffered one of the more deflating, infuriating losses in its recent history.

“I'm disappointed in our football team,” a subdued head coach Bo Pelini said. “I'm disappointed. We didn't – I'm disappointed. And it starts with me...we were our own worst enemy.”

Said tight end Mike McNeill: "We knew coming in. It's something we talked about before the game. They like to try and take the ball away, they like to try and rip the ball. They did a good job of it."

Ten nightmarish Husker blunders stood out. Some were mental errors, some were excellent plays by the Cyclones, and a few were total flukes. But all of them counted against Nebraska just the same:

*A fumble by Roy Helu on the game's first play that became a 52-yard field goal by ISU's Grant Mahoney.

*An underthrown pass from Zac Lee to Mike McNeill near ISU's goal line turned into a tip drill and a Cyclone interception, snuffing out a probably Alex Henery field goal.

*Iowa State punter Mike Brandtner waited until Nebraska's punt return unit had cleared the left side of the field. Then he took off, ball clutched in his left arm, for 20-yard gain on fourth down. On the next play, Tiller froze the linebackers with a playaction fake to Jeremiah Schwartz and lofted a deep ball to Jake Williams, who beat Eric Hagg on a fly route. Hagg turned the wrong way, and Williams caught the ball in the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown.

*After receiver Niles Paul caught a long pass from Lee and seemed headed for the end zone, he fumbled while trying to stay in bounds, recovered the ball briefly at the three, then fumbled it again into the end zone, where it was recovered by Iowa State's James Smith.

*Jared Crick failed to cover a fumble late in the second half that would have set NU up in Henery field goal range.

*A second Helu fumble inside ISU's five-yard line recovered by the Cyclones in the end zone. Officials originally ruled Helu down, but reversed the call.

*True freshman Traye Robinson accounted for NU's fifth turnover when ISU defensive tackle Nate Frere ripped out the ball, again, at the Cyclones' 5. Robinson was chewed out by left guard Keith Williams as he left the field.

*Menelik Holt fumbled on a inside screen pass for the sixth turnover, marking the first time since 1976 that Nebraska had lost five fumbles in a game.

*The seventh turnover. Lee threw slightly behind Curenski Gilleylen on a post route, Gilleylen tipped it, and the pass was intercepted by Michael O'Connor.

*The final Lee interception, thrown directly to ISU linebacker Jesse Smith, the best player, along with NU's Ndamukong Suh, on the field Saturday.

Lee finished 20-of-37 for 248 yards and three interceptions – two on Nebraska's last two drives. He completed 14 of his first 16 passes, but hit only 6 of 21 thereafter. Pelini said said it was an “easy decision” to start Lee over true freshman Cody Green - “Cody's not quite ready yet” - thought Lee played well despite the interceptions.

“Zac Lee was the least of our problems today,” Pelini said. “We didn't play well around Zac.”

Tags: iowa state game, zac lee, roy helu, ndamukong suh, niles paul

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