LINCOLN, NEB. Nebraska has a sure-fire prescription to cure the rare-loss hangover: Take two halves of Kansas and call the Bowl Championship Series in the morning.
For the third straight year, Nebraska faced KU after the Huskers were coming off a loss, and for the third straight year Nebraska won the get-well game.
Suffice it to say, the Big Red Machine is back in the pink after a 56-17 rout of the Jayhawks on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
"In my four years, that's the most dominating Nebraska team we've ever played against," Kansas coach Terry Allen said.
He's not just slinging hyperbole. The fifth-ranked Huskers (8-1 overall, 5-1 Big 12) rolled up 562 total yards, never punted and limited the Jayhawks (4-5, 2-4) to 266 total yards and six punts.
No Allen-coached KU team ever had surrendered more total yards or more rushing yards (493).
"We got our butts kicked," KU senior quarterback Dylen Smith said. "What else can you say about it?"
Not much. The Huskers, who have won 32 straight in the longest uninterrupted series in college football and are trying to play their way back into national championship contention, scored touchdowns on their first five possessions and six of seven.
It was 21-0 after a quarter and 35-3 at the half.
"They totally took it to us offensively," Allen said. "We didn't force them to punt all day. They had three or four guys rush for over 100 yards. Their defense got after us early, and we weren't able to put up enough passes to offset their dominance."
It was a record-setting day for the Huskers. The announced crowd of 78,096 fans was the largest ever to watch an NU home game. Nebraska had three 100-yard rushers, tying a school record, and QB Eric Crouch rushed for a school record-tying four touchdowns. He also had 127 rushing yards to become the most productive rushing QB in NU's storied history.
"I was very impressed with that football team that we faced today," Allen said. "They just really came after us."
The Huskers' domination was methodical and absolute. They forced a three-and-out possession to open the game and went 56 yards in seven plays for the first score with a drive that featured zero third downs.
Kansas drove to the NU 35-yard line on the next series, but Harrison Hill fumbled a catch of a Smith pass and NU set off on an eight-play, 53-yard drive.
It was a recurring theme.
Kansas made it 21-3 early in the second quarter, but Nebraska scored on five of its six first-half possessions. Time ran out on the sixth.
"I don't know what was going on," KU nose guard Nate Dwyer said. "We'd line up in one thing, Crouch would come to the line and audible to something else. It was like they were one step ahead of us all day."
The Huskers averaged an amazing 6.9 yards per play for 73 plays.
"We knew what to expect," KU senior safety Kareem High said. "You know they're going to smash the ball. It wasn't that we weren't ready or not playing hard. They just had a better night."
Now the Jayhawks are out of maneuvering room. They have two games to play and need two victories to qualify for their first bowl game since 1995.
KU will play host to Texas on Saturday, then end the season at Iowa State.
"Oftentimes, you get beat 56-17 and you don't have much to play for," Allen said. "But one thing we want to be doing is going to play Iowa State for a reason. For that reason, the significance of the Texas game is huge."
Allen has been impressed with the Jayhawks' resilience all season. Does KU have another bounceback in its future?
"There's no way to predict that," he said. "You'd like to think we'd be able to bounce back from it. Texas is a very good football team, but it's the last home game for a bunch of seniors."