JOEL MAKOVICKA, Nebraska's junior fullback, rumbled for a chunk of his 129 yards Saturday during Nebraska's 27-14 win over Washington.MATT MILLER/DN
SEATTLE -- The game plan was smash-mouth football.
Backed by another strong outing from quarterback Scott Frost, Nebraska powered its way to a 27-14 upset of Washington before 74,023 at Husky Stadium Saturday.
The Cornhuskers, who jumped four spots to No. 3 in The Associated Press Top 25, improved to 3-0, pounding 384 yards on the ground against the top-ranked rushing defense in the nation. Washington fell eight spots to No. 10.
"We wanted to run right at them, and be the most physical team on the field," Nebraska fullback Joel Makovicka said, "and for that matter, be the most physical team in the country."
AHMAN GREEN challenges Washington linebackers Jeremiah Pharms (No. 4) and Lester Towns. Green ran for 129 yards on 29 carries and scored a touchdown.MATT MILLER/DN
Ahead 24-14 with just under eight minutes remaining in the game, Makovicka ran a trap play 43 yards from the Nebraska 3-yard line to near midfield. The game-long run sparked a 12-play, 81-yard drive for the Huskers that ended with a 31-yard field goal by Kris Brown to all but seal the victory.
"Coach showed a lot of confidence in giving it to the fullback down deep," Makovicka said, "and I think it showed a lot of character on offense being back at our 5-yard line with a hostile crowd, and we have to move the ball to win the game."
RASHAAN SHEHEE tries to go over Nebraska's Jay Foreman (No. 44) and Jason Wiltz.MATT MILLER/DN
Makovicka scampered for 82 yards in the fourth quarter, and finished with 129 for the game. Junior I-back Ahman Green also rushed for 129 yards.
Makovicka's feat improved his career best, which he set last week with 68 yards against Central Florida.
"I thought Makovicka was really a big factor," NU coach Tom Osborne said.
Nebraska jumped to an early 14-0 lead with touchdown runs by Frost in each of the Huskers' first two series. Green carried the ball eight times for 44 yards in the two drives.
"We kind of jammed it down their throats the first couple of drives," Frost said.
MIKE BROWN gestures to the crowd during a timeout. Nebraska entered Saturday's game as a 3 1/2-point underdog but carried a 21-7 lead to the locker room at halftime.MATT MILLER/DN
Frost first scored on a quarterback draw play that the Huskers added to their playbook after seeing it run successfully against them last week by Central Florida. After faking a handoff to Makovicka, Frost shook a tackle, and ran 34 yards for a touchdown.
The Huskers shut the Huskies down in four plays on their second drive, setting up another drive that ended in a 30-yard touchdown run by Frost.
"A lot of people were calling for his head last week," NU rush end Grant Wistrom said. "He didn't pay any attention to that and showed them that he was the best quarterback on the team. He is our leader."
Frost ran for 97 yards on 12 carries, and completed 8 of 15 passes for 88 yards.
"I think this is just a statement by the team," Frost said. "We're not saying we're home free by any stretch. We have a lot of tough games to play. But people are going to have to watch out for us."
Any speculation about the Nebraska attack raised after last week's 38-24 victory over Central Florida, should be put to rest, Wistrom said.
"I think some people are going to have to eat their words about our offense," Wistrom said, "Especially some of our fans who booed them last week at home. They went out and played their hearts out today. I think they showed they're one of the best offenses in the nation. They came out and put it to them, and just stuffed it down their throats all day. That helped us out on defense."
The Husker defense, which held Washington to 43 yards on the ground, stopped the Huskies on their first five possessions.
Washington's first score came when true freshman quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo tossed a 12-yard pass to tight end Cameron Cleeland to put the Huskies on the board with 1:38 left in the half.
Tuiasosopo entered the game for Washington early in the second quarter when starter Brock Huard left with a sprained left ankle. After completing a screen pass to tailback Rashaan Shehee, Huard was brought to the ground by Wistrom. Huard finished the series, but did not return.
Tuiasosopo filled in adequately, throwing for 270 yards and cutting the Huskers' lead to 21-14 with 6:36 remaining in the third quarter. After that, the freshman quarterback failed, finishing the game 3 of 8 for 54.
Despite allowing 299 yards through the air, the Huskers held Tuiasosopo to 27 yards on the ground on 11 carries. Nebraska also recorded four sacks - including three against Tuiasosopo.
Neither team recorded a turnover, but the game was not error-free. Washington missed a field goal, had a two-yard punt, and failed an onside kick attempt; Nebraska missed a field goal, and failed on a fake field-goal attempt. The Huskers also had two penalties inside UW's 20-yard line that cost NU two possible touchdowns.
"You have to be happy with the win," Makovicka said. "But there's a lot of things we can improve and a lot of things we have to work on. I think it's a stepping stone for what we want to accomplish."