Lincoln - Nate Swift broke Nebraska's career receptions record and scored a pair of second-half touchdowns to lead Nebraska to a come-from-behind 32-20 win over Baylor in front of 85,104 fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The NCAA-record 295th consecutive sellout crowd and a Versus national television audience watched Swift become NU's career reception leader on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Joe Ganz with 1:15 left in the third quarter. The catch gave NU a 24-20 lead and provided the senior from Hutchinson, Minn., with his 144th career catch, moving him ahead of 1972 Husker Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers' 143 career receptions.
It was Swift's eighth catch of the day but he wasn't done yet. After the Husker defense held Baylor on its next drive, Ganz hit Swift on a 53-yard touchdown strike to put NU ahead 30-20 and seal Nebraska's fifth win of the year. The Huskers improved to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12, while Baylor slipped to 3-5 overall and 1-3 in the league.
Swift's career-high tying ninth catch also gave him his second straight 100-yard receiving and seventh 100-yard effort of his career. It was also the fifth time in his career that Swift hauled in a pair of touchdown catches in a game. Swift finished the day with a career-best 11 catches for 121 yards.
While Swift took center stage, Nebraska's win over the Bears was a classic team effort. Ganz completed 32-of-46 passes for 336 yards on the afternoon, while connecting with eight different receivers. The Huskers, who converted 11-of-17 third-down conversions on the afternoon, put the game away when Ganz hooked up with Marlon Lucky on NU's longest play from scrimmage of the year on 3rd-and-17 midway through the fourth quarter.
Ganz's short throw and Lucky's scintillating run set NU up at the Baylor 5. Although the Huskers were unable to punch the ball in the end zone, with fumbles by Ganz and Quentin Castille on consecutive plays. BU recovered the Castille fumble at its own 2, but on the Bears' first offensive play after the turnover, NU's Colton Koehler tackled Jay Finley in the end zone for a safety to put NU up 32-20.
The play also gave the Huskers possession again, allowing NU to run more valuable time off the clock an amass an overwhelming time of possession advantage for the third straight game. Nebraska turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession, but after a final defensive stop, Ganz and the Huskers ran out the final 3:55 on the clock to finish with 38:37 of possession. It is the third straight game that NU controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes.
Nebraska rolled up 497 yards of total offense on 83 offensive plays, including 161 rushing yards on 37 carries. Lucky led the Huskers with 83 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while adding three receptions for 82 yards.
Ganz added 42 yards on 11 carries to account for 378 yards of total offense himself. Todd Peterson hauled in six catches for 57 yards, while Niles Paul contributed five receptions for 34 yards on the day.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin led Baylor to 350 yards of total offense on 53 plays, but the Bears were a dismal 0-for-10 on third-down conversions. He completed just 9-of-20 passes for 134 yards, while rushing 16 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. However, Griffin had 99 rushing yards and a score on his first five carries in the opening quarter. Finley added 88 rushing yards and a score for the Bears, while Kendall Wright led BU with three receptions for 60 yards.
The Huskers jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their second drive of the game on Ganz's six-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Hill with 7:42 left in the first quarter.
But Baylor ended the opening stanza with a 14-7 lead after a pair of long touchdown runs from Finley and Griffin. Finley put the Bears on the board his 43-yard sprint to tie the game just 39 seconds after NU's opening score. Griffin put BU in the lead with a 47-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-1 on its next drive.
In the second quarter, the Husker defense stiffened on the explosive BU ground attack. NU held Baylor on its first series of the second period, ending the drive with an 11-yard sack of Griffin on 3rd-and-8.
Nebraska took and Ganz began methodically marching the Huskers down the field against the Bears. The Huskers were held out of the end zone, but after 14 plays and 57 yards, Alex Henery booted a 27-yard field goal to cut BU's lead to 14-10 with 5:41 left in the half.
Baylor's ensuing drive ended with a similar result as its first drive of the quarter, as Griffin was sacked for a seven-yard loss on a big hit by defensive end Pierre Allen. After a shanked 25-yard punt by BU's Derek Epperson, the NU offense took over on the Baylor 36 and quickly hit paydirt on Marlon Lucky's 18-yard touchdown run over right tackle. Lucky's seventh touchdown run of the season put the Huskers back in front, 17-14, with 2:06 left in the opening half.
But Baylor carried a 20-17 lead into the locker room at halftime after Jacoby Jones powered into the end zone from one yard out with 17 seconds left in the half. Baylor covered 80 yards on six plays in just 1:49, thanks in large part to a 15-yard facemask penalty that erased a seven-yard sack of Griffin by Cody Glenn that would have set up a 3rd-and-17 from the BU 26, but instead gave the Bears a first down at the BU 48.
On the following play, Griffin connected with Ernest Smith on a 35-yard pass play to the NU 17, before hitting Wright on a 16-yard strike to set up Jones' touchdown. Baylor's extra-point attempt was blocked by Ndamukong Suh to keep NU within a field goal.
Despite trailing at the half, Nebraska dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 41 plays for 19:19, while producing 200 yards of total offense. Baylor maintained possession for just 10:41 in the opening half and ran just 26 plays, but those plays covered 234 yards of total offense. But the Bears gained 165 yards of offense on four huge plays, with first-quarters runs of 40 and 47 yards by Griffin and a 43-yard run by Finley, to go along with the 35-yard pass play to set up their lone score of the second quarter.
Suh and Larry Asante led the NU defense with seven tackles apiece, while Asante notched two tackles for loss including a four-yard sack. Nebraska notched three sacks and seven tackles for loss on the afternoon.
Nebraska returns to Big 12 Conference road action next Saturday when the Huskers face Oklahoma in Norman. Kickoff between NU and OU is set for 7 p.m., with a live national telecast on either ABC or ESPN.
Scoring (Nebraska 32, Baylor 20)
Oct. 25, 2008
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
Attendance: 85,104 (295th Consecutive Sellout)
First Quarter (Baylor 14, Nebraska 7)
NU - Ryan Hill 6 pass from Joe Ganz (Alex Henery kick), 7:42
BU - Jay Finley 43 run (Ben Parks kick), 7:03
BU - Robert Griffin 47 run (Parks kick), 2:26
Second Quarter (Baylor 20, Nebraska 17)
NU - Henery 27 FG, 5:41
NU - Marlon Lucky 18 run (Henery kick, 2:05)
BU - Jacoby Jones 1 run (Parks kick blocked by Ndamukong Suh), 0:17
Third Quarter (Nebraska 24, Baylor 20)
NU - Nate Swift 9 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 1:15 (Swift breaks NU career reception record)
Fourth Quarter (Nebraska 32, Baylor 20)
NU - Ganz 1 run (Henery kick), 6:35
NU - Swift 53 pass from Ganz (Henery kick no good), 12:11
NU - Team Safety (Colton Koehler tackles Finley in end zone), 6:59