LINCOLN, NEB. Nebraska wanted to send a message. It ended up stapling it to Kansas University's backsides.
NU, smarting from a 31-14 loss last week to Oklahoma that dropped the Huskers from the ranks of the unbeaten and knocked them out of the top spot in the polls, rushed for 493 yards and never had to punt in a 56-17 rout of the Jayhawks on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
"Statements need to be made," NU coach Frank Solich said. "I don't think there's any question about it. Teams involved in trying to get as high a rating as you possibly can in the national rankings need to make statements."
The Huskers' was emphatic.
For just the second time in NU's storied history, three backs rushed for more than 100 yards. They averaged 6.9 yards per play and 6.8 yards per rush. QB Eric Crouch rushed for 127 yards and a school record-tying four touchdowns.
"That was really the plan, to make them stop our power game, make them stop our option game," Solich said.
Kansas, which had surrendered 180 rushing yards in the past three games combined, never did.
"Our offensive line did a good job after the loss last week," said Crouch, who now has rushed for more yards than any other NU quarterback ever. "Coming out and doing what they did today shows a lot about what they're made of. We put that behind us. It was hard to do, but we did it."
The Huskers (8-1 overall, 4-1 Big 12) made just about everything look easy Saturday. They scored on five straight possessions and six of the first seven. They led 21-0 after one quarter and 35-3 at the half.
NU's first string surrendered just a field goal.
"We really needed this," NU rush end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "All week we couldn't wait for Saturday to come around, because we wanted to get back on the field and prove to everybody, and to ourselves, we're still a good defensive team. We let one get away last week, so we felt we really needed to convince ourselves, convince our fans and people around the country that we're still capable of coming out and dominating a game for four quarters.
"I could see it in the players' eyes. We wanted it bad. After we lose, we had a sense of urgency again. We knew we weren't where we wanted to be and today we took a big step in the right direction."
The only downer for NU was the injury loss of backup offensive tackle Jon Rutherford for the season. He torn an anterior cruciate ligament.
"He'll end up having surgery on that," Solich said. "That was really a tough blow."