Nebraska Pitches Shutout in Holiday Bowl

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

SAN DIEGO -- Zac Lee threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Niles Paul in the third quarter to highlight a 33-0 rout by Nebraska (No. 22 BCS, No. 20 AP) against Arizona (No. 20 BCS, No. 22 AP) on a rainy Wednesday night, the first shutout in the 32-year history of the Holiday Bowl.

The coaches expected a defensive game, and the Huskers delivered, earning their first shutout in 46 bowl appearances.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the AP College Football Player of the Year and a Heisman finalist, had only three tackles, including one for a loss, but helped the Huskers harass Arizona quarterback Nick Foles all night. Suh even went out for a pass early in the third quarter on second-and-4 from the Arizona 5, but Lee didn't throw his way.

The Wildcats were never in this one. Nebraska free safety Matt O'Hanlon intercepted Foles on the third play from scrimmage and returned it 37 yards to the Arizona 5. Lee scored on a 4-yard run two plays later. It was the fastest score in Holiday Bowl history, coming just 75 seconds in.

The Wildcats had the ball fourth-and-3 at the Nebraska 8-yard line with 1:41 to go before safety P.J. Smith batted down Foles' pass to preserve the shutout.

Arizona set Holiday Bowl records with six first downs, 109 yards of offense, 51 offensive plays and nine punts. The Wildcats didn't get into Nebraska territory until the first drive of the third quarter.

The previous Holiday Bowl record for fewest first downs was 12 by Nebraska in a 23-20 loss to Arizona in 1998. The previous record for fewest yards was 185 by BYU in a 65-14 loss to Texas A&M in 1990, and the previous record for the most punts was eight, by five teams.

Nebraska (10-4) got its first 10-win season since 2003. Arizona finished (8-5).

This loss mirrored Arizona's first bowl appearance, a 38-0 loss to Centre (Ky.) in the rain in San Diego.

Nebraska's Bo Pelini earned bragging rights in Youngstown, Ohio, where he and Arizona coach Mike Stoops grew up and played at Cardinal Mooney High.

Nebraska's Alex Henery set a Holiday Bowl record with four field goals, from 47, 50, 41 and 22 yards.

The Huskers even ran a handful of plays out of the wildcat formation, including a 5-yard run by Rex Burkhead early in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.

With Nebraska leading 26-0 late in the third quarter, Paul hauled in Lee's long pass at the Arizona 40 and cruised into the end zone. He spiked the ball and flexed his muscles in a pose to the crowd, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Paul had four catches for 123 yards.


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