A strong early performance by a 30-point underdog California team was erased by a string of big plays in the second quarter, and Nebraska went on to an easy 45-0 victory before a record crowd of 77,617 in Lincoln, Neb.
The Golden Bears dominated the early part of the game and held Nebraska's vaunted rushing attack to just 114 yards (an average of 2.4 per play), but could not translate that effort onto the scoreboard and that failure cost them.
In the first 12 minutes of the game, Cal had 73 yards to minus-13 for Nebraska. However, Cal squandered a major early opportunity while Nebraska converted on its chance.
On the Bears second possession, Cal had an 11-play drive, moving the ball from its own 31-yard-to the Nebraska 9-yard-line. But after a holding penalty, the Bears eventually were forced to attempt a 35-yard field goal attempt. The Ignacio Brache kick hit the left upright and Cal was left empty-handed.
The first score of the game was set up by special teams as Cornhusker punter Dan Hadenfeldt got the Cornhuskers out of trouble with a 73-yard punt from his own endzone that pinned Cal deep in its own territory. Four plays later, Keyuo Craver returned a Cal punt 12 yards to set Nebraska up at its own 49-yard-line. A 22-yard scramble by quarterback Bobby Newcombe coupled with a late hit penalty set the table for the score. On 3rd-and-3, Newcombe squeezed through a small hole on the perimeter and dove into the endzone for a 12-yard TD run with 0:58 left in the quarter.
Nebraska came right back on its next possession, moving 80 yards on 9 plays and converting a 3rd-and-1 at the Cal 1-yard-line on an Eric Crouch quarterback sneak. It was a 32-yard pass to tight end Tracey Wistrom on a 3rd-and-5 that keyed the long drive.
Nebraska got another opportunity a few minutes later when a Sam Clemons pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage and was intercepted by Ralph Brown at the Cal 47-yard-line. But the Bears defense stuffed Nebraska on three straight plays.
Cal's pass defense began to crumble and Nebraska used big plays on two of its next three offensive plays to score a pair of touchdowns. A blown coverage gave Nebraska a gift when tight end Tracey Wistrom found himself without a Cal player within 20 yards of him and caught a pass from Crouch for a 70-yard TD play with 2:26 left in the half.
After forcing Cal to punt, the Cornhuskers went to an inside screen on its first play of its final first half possession. The pass from Newcombe to Crouch went for a 60-yard score with only 53 seconds left in the half.
The halftime stats showed Cal's defense holding Nebraska to 46 yards on the ground. However, the 162 yards through the air made all the difference in the 28-0 margin at the intermission.
Cal's defense came up with a huge play on the first series of the second half when Jerry DeLoach forced a Newcombe fumble that Juan Jimenez recovered at the Nebraska 20-yard-line. Cal couldn't move the football, and Brache came on to try a 42-yard field goal. Again, his kick hit the left upright and the Bears were frustrated once again. It marked the third time this year in four field goal attempts, that a Cal kicker has hit the upright.
Nebraska special teams set up the next score when Brian Shaw blocked a Nick Harris punt and the Cornhuskers recovered at the Cal 13-yard-line. Cal's defense pushed the Huskers back to the 20, but Josh Brown hit his first collegiate field goal attempt from 37 yards out.
The defense couldn't be blamed on the next score as a Kyle Boller pass was intercepted by Ralph Brown and he returned the ball 35 yards to the Cal 4-yard-line. On the next play, Crouch went in for the TD and a 38-0 lead with 2:54 left in the third quarter.
Several Cal players had big defensive games, including Andre Carter, who eight tackles, including five for loss, and linebacker Keith Miller, who finished with six tackles. In all, the Cal defense had 10 tackles for loss in the game.
MEMORIAL STADIUM (77,617)