Waco, Texas - True freshman quarterback Cody Green picked up a win in his first career start, but it was sophomore defensive tackle Jared Crick who stole the show in Nebraska's 20-10 victory over Baylor at Floyd Casey Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Playing in front of a Husker-dominated crowd on the road and a national television audience on Versus, Nebraska improved to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12, while Baylor slipped to 3-5 and 0-4 in the league.
"It's a win and anytime you get a win, especially on the road you have to enjoy it," Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini said following the game. "Jared Crick had a nice game and made some plays. That's what we expect him to do."
Crick led the Huskers with a school-record five sacks for 24 yards lost of BU signal-caller Nick Florence. The Cozad, Neb., native also tied Jim Skow's 24-year school record of seven tackles for 28 yards loss on the day, while registering 13 total tackles, including 10 solos. He also recovered a fourth-quarter fumble.
While Crick supplied suffocating pressure in the Baylor backfield all day long, his defensive teammates stepped up and made plays to create turnovers for the Huskers.
Juniors Dejon Gomes and Prince Amukamara both grabbed first-half interceptions for the Huskers, to help Nebraska race to a 20-0 halftime lead.
Gomes' interception in the endzone followed a Crick sack and stopped a Baylor drive. Green and the NU offense then marched 75 yards on 12 plays capped by junior Alex Henery's 22-yard field goal to give the Huskers a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Nebraska's special teams played a major role in the game giving Green and the Big Red a 7-0 lead before the NU offense ever took the field. Freshman Eric Martin broke through and blocked Derek Epperson's punt following the Bears' opening possession. Redshirt freshman Justin Blatchford scooped up the free ball and raced 25 yards to paydirt to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead with 13:31 left in the first quarter.
"It took a lot of pressure off of me going into the game already with a touchdown on the board before I even set foot on the field," Green said after the game. "It's easy for a quarterback to have a great defense. It's a great advantage."
The Blackshirts came up with a stop on BU's second possession, and Green took the field for the first time as a starter with 10:47 left in the first quarter. On his first drive, Green engineered an 11-play march that covered 44 yards and consumed 5:04 on the clock that culminated with Henery's 45-yard field goal to push Nebraska's lead to 10-0 with 5:43 left in the opening quarter.
Gomes' interception in the endzone stopped Baylor's next drive and eventually led to another Henery field goal to push the lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter. The Blackshirts then came through with their first three-and-out, and a 17-yard Niles Paul punt return set up the the Husker offense with a short field starting at the BU 46.
On the first play from scrimmage of the possession, Green connected with Paul on a 45-yard pass play to put the Huskers on the Bears' doorstep. Two plays later, freshman Dontrayevous Robinson found the endzone to put the Big Red ahead 20-0 with 9:28 left in the first half.
Robinson finished the day with 61 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while adding 22 yards on three receptions. Green completed 12-of-21 passes for 128 yards and an interception, while adding eight carries for 43 yards. Paul led the NU receivers with two catches for 54 yards, while redshirt freshman Khiry Cooper added three receptions on the day.
The two defenses dominated the rest of the first half, and the Bears continued to slow the Nebraska offense with a second-half shutout.
The Bears' only noise came in the third quarter, when they converted an 18-yard drive into a 42-yard field goal, before Clifton Odom returned a Green interception for a touchdown to cut NU's edge to 20-10.
The Huskers missed a golden opportunity in the fourth quarter, after Crick jumped on a Baylor fumble to set the Husker offense up with a 1st-and-10 at the BU 23. But Green fumbled on the first play of the possession, and Baylor took over.
Florence hit David Gettis on a 40-yard pass play on the opening play of BU's ensuing drive, and after a fourth-down conversion, the Bears were knocking on the door. The defense held and forced the Bears into a 29-yard field goal attempt that was missed by Parks that would have pulled BU within a score.
Florence finished the game 19-of-38 for 222 yards, while Gettis hauled in seven receptions for 124 yards. Baylor mustered 276 total yards, but managed just 54 rushing yards on the afternoon. Nebraska managed 273 total yards, including 145 yards on the ground and 128 through the air.
Nebraska returns home to renew its historic series with Oklahoma on Saturday, Nov. 7, at Memorial Stadium. A game time is expected to be announced on Sunday.
Final: Nebraska 20, Baylor 10
First Quarter (NU, 10-0)
NU - 13:31 - Justin Blatchford 25 blocked punt return (blocked by Eric Martin) (Alex Henery kick) - NU 7-0
NU - 5:43 - Henery 45 FG - 11 plays, 44 yards, 5:04, NU 10-0
Second Quarter (NU, 20-0)
NU - 12:16 - Henery 22 FG - 12 plays, 75 yards, 4:56, NU 13-0
NU - 9:28 - Dontrayevous Robinson 1 run (Henery kick) - 3 plays, 46 yards, 1:00, NU 20-0
Third Quarter (NU, 20-10)
BU - 9:22 - Ben Parks 41 FG - 7 plays, 18 yards, 4:00, NU 20-3
BU - 3:27 - Clifton Odom 45 interception return (Parks kick), NU 20-10
Fourth Quarter (NU, 20-10)
Final: Nebraska 20, Baylor 10
Time of Game: 3:20