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Taking Ames The Cornhuskers had been upset on their previous visit to Iowa State, but on this day they survived the Cyclones

It seems unlikely that top-ranked Nebraska's most harrowing road
game of the season would come against an 0-8-1 team that was a
34-point underdog. Unless you consider the site. On their last visit
to Ames, Iowa, in 1992, the once- < beaten Cornhuskers had suffered
one of the season's biggest upsets, 19-10. This time, Jim Walden was
making his final appearance after an eight-year stint as Iowa State's
coach, and the game was being played before a cranked-up crowd of
45,186 at Cyclone Stadium. ''We knew from the get-go they were going
to play hard,'' Husker quarterback Brook Berringer said. ''It was
their last home game, Senior Day, the coach's last game, not to
mention the 16 Nebraska guys on their roster.''
The state's most vengeful exports must have been on the Cyclone
defense, which entered the game ranked 105th in stopping the run;
only two teams in Division I-A were more porous. But in the first
half Iowa State limited Lawrence Phillips to 30 yards on 15 carries.
The Cornhuskers' lead was 7-6 with three minutes left in the half,
but two minutes later senior wingback Abdul Muhammad's diving,
fingertip grab in the end zone gave Nebraska an eight-point cushion.
Iowa State answered that 38-yard scoring pass with a 58- yarder from
Todd Doxzon to Calvin Branch to make it 14-12 with 3:42 left in the
third quarter.
''Two points,'' Doxzon said, ''and we had confidence.''
Said Berringer, ''It was hard not to keep thinking of the 1992
Early in the fourth quarter, the Huskers took over on the Cyclone
41. ''I knew something would happen on that drive because the
offensive line was fired up, socking each other around on the
sidelines,'' Berringer said. Four plays later, I-back Damon Benning
ran in from the six to make it 21-12.
Once again, Iowa State countered -- or seemed to. Doxzon led a
march that started at his own 20 and ended with a sideline screen to
Geoff Turner, who shredded two tackles and broke another. But the
32-yard touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty. ''We didn't
have the gas to hold up much after that,'' Doxzon said. The Huskers
would score once more, on a 21-yard dash by Phillips, to finish off a
28-12 victory.
Like the rest of the Huskers, Phillips didn't really find his
footing until late in the game -- but he had good reason. Phillips
started the game wearing shoes with nubby cleats, designed to give
better traction on wet turf. But it never rained, so Phillips
borrowed a pair of short-cleated shoes from junior guard Bryan Pruitt
early in the fourth quarter. In his new footgear Phillips
high-stepped for 120 of his 183 yards, which raised his season total
to 1,672. That broke the Big Eight sophomore rushing record of 1,553
set by Thurman Thomas of Oklahoma State in 1985 and meant that only
one Husker in history -- Mike Rozier, twice -- had amassed more
yardage in a season.
Still, the Huskers rushed for only 285 yards, 80 below their
nation-leading average. But Coach Osborne was happy. ''If you guys
are voting (in the polls),'' he said, ''think Red. This was a tough
situation, and there was nothing I could do about it.'' Nebraska left
with a reason to celebrate: The Huskers clinched at least a share of
their fourth straight conference title. -- H.H.