Kansas University's defense played very well in the first half against Nebraska, but self-destructed with penalties and poor plays in the second half, and the Cornhuskers won, 24-3, Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The Jayhawks also were hurt by four turnovers, including three interceptions by freshman quarterback Adam Barmann, one of which was on Nebraska's one-yard line.
"You don't get any points for running it down to the 10 or the one," KU head coach Mark Mangino said. "You've got to get it into the end zone."
The Jayhawks couldn't do much offensively in the first quarter, gaining just 30 yards on nine plays, but KU's defense held the Cornhuskers to a 20-yard field goal by David Dyches late in the period.
KU made changes in the defensive backfield, including starting freshman tailback John Randle at cornerback, that helped the team in the first period. Randle was beaten badly on Nebraska's opening drive, but Isaiah Fluellen dropped the pass. Wide receiver Charles Gordon also spent time at cornerback, deflecting a potential first-down pass later in the drive.
"We're going to put our best players out there on the field," Mangino said, "and if it means we have to play some freshmen both ways, we'll do it."
Barmann gave Nebraska the ball back two plays after Dyches' field goal, throwing an interception to Jerrell Pippens near midfield.
The Cornhuskers then went on a 10-play, 58-yard drive ending with a one-yard touchdown run by Steve Kriewald that gave NU a 10-0 lead just two minutes into the second quarter.
The Jayhawks gained three first downs on the ensuing drive, but had to punt after Barmann was sacked for a seven-yard loss on third-and-15 from NU's 37-yard line.
Randle was flagged for pass interference on the first play after getting beaten by Matt Herian, but Jonathan Lamb picked off Jammal Lord's pass on the next play.
The Jayhawks then went on a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took more than seven minutes and ended with a 20-yard field goal. Jerod Brooks' first attempt was blocked, but the Cornhuskers were called for offsides and Brooks drilled his second attempt with just five seconds left in the half.
KU's well-rested defense came out strong in the second half also, holding Nebraska to just eight yards and forcing a shanked, 38-yard punt by Kyle Larson.
Barmann then had the Jayhawks moving downfield again, thanks to a roughing the passer call on Pippens on a third down, but Barmann killed the drive with another interception. KU faced a second-and-five from NU's seven-yard line, but Barmann threw the ball straight into Daniel Bullocks' hands at the one-yard line.
"If you march the ball all the way down the field, you've got to get it into the end zone," Mangino said. "We didn't do that today."
The Jayhawk defense hurt itself on the ensuing drive, getting flagged for three 15-yard penalties, as the Cornhuskers marched downfield. Nebraska suffered the same fate as KU's previous drive, though, as Kriewald fumbled just inches short of the end zone while running over Tony Stubbs, who recovered from the big hit quick enough to recover the fumble in the end zone for a touchback. The forced fumble and recovery were the first of Stubbs' career.
KU turned the ball over just three plays later on another interception by Barmann. This time it wasn't his fault, though, as he threw a perfect pass to Mark Simmons, who couldn't catch the ball and accidently deflected it to Josh Bullocks at KU's 38-yard line.
After a nine-yard run by Cory Ross, KU was flagged for another personal foul. Ross ran for 10 yards on the next play and then Judd Davies scored from three-yards out.
The Jayhawks were forced to punt again on their next drive, and Davies scored again 12 plays later, despite two personal fouls against the Cornhuskers. The big play of the drive was a 39-yard pass from Lord to Fluellen, who again had beaten Randle.
Randle looked to somewhat make up for his poor coverage on the next drive, rushing to the end zone on third-and-one from NU's nine-yard line, but he fumbled the ball just before the goal line, and Demorrio Williams recovered for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers then ran out the clock.
Ross led Nebraska with 108 yards on 19 carries, all in the second half. Lord rushed 13 times for 85 yards, and was 7-of-12 passing for 110 yards.
Barmann finished 24-of-34 passing for 204 yards, and rushed eight times for three yards.
Clark Green led KU with 49 yards on 13 carries, and Randle added 31 yards on seven rushes.
Gordon caught six passes for 47 yards, Brandon Rideau had five catches for 41 yards, and Mark Simmons and Green each had 19 yards on three receptions.
¢ Gordon's six catches gave him 41 on the season, breaking Willi Vaughn's single-season record receptions by a freshman.