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Nebraska rolls over Wildcats in record style

Dan Alexander ran for 240 yards as No. 9 Nebraska set a bowl scoring record with a 66-17 victory over No. 18 Northwestern on Saturday night in the Alamo Bowl.

Eric Crouch ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more to help the Cornhuskers break the bowl record set by Texas A&M in a 65-21 victory over Virginia in the 1990 Holiday Bowl. Nebraska's bowl high came in a 62-24 victory over Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

The 'Huskers, who were openly disappointed at not receiving a Bowl Championship Series bid, took it out on the co-Big Ten champion Wildcats.

"They're a good team," Carlos Polk, Nebraska's middle linebacker, said of Northwestern. "But they're not on our level."

After falling behind 10-7 early in the second quarter, the 'Huskers outscored Northwestern 59-7 the rest of the way.

Nebraska coach Frank Solich, hoping to finish a disappointing season with a Top 5 ranking, didn't pull his starters until about 10 minutes were left with Nebraska leading 59-17.

Correll Buckhalter scored twice and Bobby Newcombe caught a touchdown pass and threw another to Matt Davison as the Cornhuskers set several records for the 8-year-old bowl. Davison had two touchdown catches.

Damien Anderson ran for 149 yards and a touchdown for Northwestern.

"We played good football teams and showed that we can play at the highest level," Northwestern coach Randy Walker said before the game. "Now this is the highest level. By playing Nebraska you're playing, without question, the program with the greatest tradition in the country. So it's a chance for us to see where we stack up."

In the days leading up to the game, the 'Huskers admitted they were disappointed to be playing here, and not in Miami's Orange Bowl for the national championship. But just before the start they evinced a different attitude personified by All-America center Dominic Raiola, who performed a throat-slashing gesture as he jogged by a section of jeering NU fans.

The overmatched Wildcats helped Nebraska by routinely giving up great field position in the first half. Nebraska's worst field position of the half was its 36. The 'Huskers opened three drives in Northwestern territory and one on the 50 while taking a 38-17 halftime lead.

Nebraska set a school bowl record with 31 points in the second quarter, topping the 29 points the 'Huskers scored in the second against Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

The 'Huskers didn't let up in the second half, scoring 21 points in the third quarter while improving to 2-1 in bowl games under Solich and 20-19 overall in bowls.

Nebraska needed only five plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 15-yard run by Alexander 2:11 into the game. Alexander added a 2-yard touchdown run in the second and had 119 yards by halftime, setting an Alamo Bowl record.

Crouch had a 50-yard touchdown run and Buckhalter and Newcombe each scored before halftime. Newcombe caught a short pass and easily outran the Wildcats for a 58-yard score with 20 seconds left.

Newcombe set up Buckhalter's 2-yard run that put the 'Huskers up 28-10 with a 32-yard punt return to the Northwestern 10. He added a 69-yard pass to Davison that made it 58-17 late in the third quarter. Wildcats fans booed the pitch pass from the former quarterback, who had no trouble hitting an open Davison for the touchdown.

Josh Brown set a personal best and Alamo Bowl record with a 51-yard field goal late in the second for Nebraska. His best was 42 yards and the Alamo Bowl record was 49 by Texas A&M's Kyle Bryant against Michigan in 1995.

Northwestern had taken advantage of a special-teams blunder by Nebraska for a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. Keyuo Craver was called for pass interference on a fake punt, setting the Wildcats up at the Nebraska 21. Zak Kustok hit Teddy Johnson with a 10-yard pass for the Wildcats' only lead of the game.

"The whole off-season we'd worked our butts off," Northwestern middle linebacker Billy Silva said. "We'd put in so much work it seemed people were on the brink of dying sometimes. We all had a lot invested in this team."

Northwestern also had a 44-yard field goal by Tim Long in the first quarter.

Alexander broke his personal best of 208 yards set in the season opener against San Jose State and he shattered the Alamo Bowl record of 113 yards Iowa's Sedrick Shaw had against Texas Tech in 1996.

Ole Miss fires assistants

After an embarrassing performance in its bowl game, Mississippi announced it won't renew the contract of defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. "We evaluate our staff after every season," coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement. Also let go were defensive backs coach Tom Lavigne and conditioning coach Benjy Pierce. Cutcliffe said he will begin looking for replacements immediately. Ole Miss finished the season Thursday with a 49-38 loss to West Virginia in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.