LAWRENCE, Kan. - After gaining just 14 rushing yards in its previous two games, Nebraska came out determined to establish the run against Kansas.
By the end of the first quarter with the Cornhuskers trailing 14-2, it was clear that the Big 12 Conference's second-ranked rushing defense was for real.
NU I-back Cory Ross rushed seven times for 16 yards in the first quarter as the Huskers slipped into an all-too-familiar hole to open the game.
Ross then carried the ball just two times in the second quarter as Kansas dominated the Nebraska offensive line early and the Husker rushing game was squelched for the fourth straight week.
"We wanted to establish our running attack and it just didn't happen," Ross said. "There were just some plays that should have been made and we didn't make them."
As the running game floundered early, the NU offense failed to maintain any rhythm for the rest of the 40-15 loss to the Jayhawks.
Nebraska was held to just 21 yards rushing and finished with a dismal 138 yards of total offense.
"Everybody's sick," NU Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell said. "It's absolutely embarrassing. There's only one say to say it. We have to obviously play much better and we're capable of playing better and that's about all you can say. We're absolutely sick."
Nebraska failed to pick up a first down in the first quarter for the second consecutive week. The first NU first down came when quarterback Zac Taylor found sophomore J.B. Phillips for a 13-yard gain with 12:15 left in the second quarter Ã¢â¬" it was Taylor's second longest completion on the day.
The Nebraska offense, which came into the contest ranked 10th in the Big 12, again found itself working with little breathing room.
The KU defense kept a firm hold on Taylor Ã¢â¬" who finished the first half with 75 passing yards including one 30-yard touchdown to sophomore Terrence Nunn.
With the running game non-existent, Taylor struggled to find his rhythm going 14 of 27 for 117 yards with one touchdown and one interception on the day.
As the Nebraska offensive line struggled through false start penalties and missed blocks, the Jayhawks sacked Taylor three times for losses of 19 yards including a fourth-quarter safety.
The Huskers trimmed the margin to 17-15 midway through the third quarter before Kansas running back Jon Cornish ripped off a 72-yard run for the first of 23 unanswered points.
As NU slipped deeper and deeper into submission, the offense flailed.
The Huskers gave up plays of 72 and 39 yards as well as a 40-yard interception return all in the second half. The Huskers ended the day with 10 punts.
In the second half Ross rushed seven times for one yard. The Huskers managed just two total yards of offense in the fourth quarter alone, negating any attempts of a comeback.
Ross finished with 30 yards on 16 carries. NU's second leading rusher, freshman Cody Glenn, had two carries for no yards and Taylor netted minus-9 on the day.
"We knew coming in that it would be tough to mount a comeback with the passing game because of their rush," NU Coach Bill Callahan said. "The linebackers are also an excellent unit. They have one of the top defenses in the conference and that's why they're winning."