Ames, Iowa (Ticker) -- Top-ranked Nebraska awakened in time to keep alive the longest winning streak in the country.
Facing a stiff challenge from previously unbeaten Iowa State, the Cornhuskers erupted for four touchdowns in the final quarter and pulled away for a 49-27 Big 12 Conference victory.
Nebraska (5-0, 2-0 Big 12 North) stretched its winning streak to 11 games, and now has the longest run in Division I-A after Miami handed Florida State its first defeat in 18 games today.
But it was not as easy as the final score indicated for the Cornhuskers, who trailed 14-13 at the half and led only 21-20 entering the final period.
"They are definitely a program on the rise," Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch said. "They hung in there for four quarters and fought hard. We were really frustrated at halftime and came out and played a great second half."
Nebraska turned on the power when it had to as Willie Miller's nine-yard TD run and Correll Buckhalter's one-yard TD burst gave the Huskers a 35-20 lead with 9:55 to play.
Crouch, who rushed for 138 yards on 19 carries and completed 7-of-17 passes for 164 yards, scored on a one-yard keeper to stretch the margin to 42-20 with 4:05 left.
"Eric gives us that extra dimension to win ballgames and make the big plays," Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "He gives us his best every day. He was extremely sharp throwing the ball in the second half."
After Iowa State's Sage Rosenfels tossed a 15-yard TD pass to J.J. Moses, backup Nebraska quarterback Jamal Load capped the scoring with a six-yard TD run in the final minute.
The Huskers were able to wear down Iowa State on the ground, rushing for 336 yards on 60 carries. Dan Alexander added 96 yards on 21 attempts.
"We just executed much better as a team," Crouch said. "We felt that we could pretty much move the ball at any time, so that was why we were so frustrated at halftime."
"They deserve the No. 1 ranking," Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said. "I'm not going to give you the patented speech. We're disappointed that we didn't win this game. We went out to win this game, not look respectable."
Nebraska will likely be the top-ranked team in both polls come Sunday, but Solich has to be concerned about his defense.
It gave up 346 yards through the air as Iowa State's Sage Rosenfels completed 22-of-42 passes for two touchdowns. In last week's 42-24 victory over Missouri, the Huskers yielded 492 total yards.
"It was a good win for us," Solich said. "We gave up some big plays, but we also had some of our own. We knew this game would go four quarters and the plays we made in the second half were the difference."
Traditionally the Big 12 doormat, Iowa State (4-0, 1-1) was seeking its first 5-0 start since 1980. Nebraska increased its lead in the lopsided series to 79-14-2.
The 27 points were the most the Huskers have allowed this season. Iowa's Jamarcus Powers returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, the first given up by Nebraska since 1996.
The return gave Iowa State a 14-10 lead 6:48 into the second period before Josh Brown booted a 24-yard field goal to bring Nebraska within 14-13.
The Huskers took the lead on Buckhalter's one-yard TD run 3:47 into the third quarter and made it 21-14 on Aaron Golliday's conversion run.
Iowa State answered on Ennis Haywood's four-yard run with 7:46 to go in the period, but trailed 21-20 after the extra point failed.
It was a strange game," Iowa State cornerback Dustin Avey said. "We played the first three quarters great, like any defensive team would want. They ran the option great and they executed when they needed to execute."