Nebraska closes in on bowl berth with win vs. Baylor

WACO, Texas (AP) -- The Baylor Bears were so ready to prove they're no longer the same old Baylor Bears that they came out Saturday night sporting a new all-green look.

Problem was, the Nebraska Cornhuskers showed that they still have a bit of Big Red in them.

Zac Taylor threw two touchdown passes and led Nebraska to scores on four of its first five drives, and the defense made it hold up for a 23-14 victory.

Playing on the road for the first time this season, the Cornhuskers (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) rebounded from a last-minute loss, matched last season's win total and moved within a victory of being eligible for the postseason.

"That stuff is not important," said Nebraska coach Bill Callahan. "It's more important to improve."

Even in defeat, Baylor (4-2, 1-2) took another step toward respectability, especially after losing to the Cornhuskers by 32 last season.

Coming off their first ever Big 12 road win, the Bears led 7-3 in the second quarter and were driving for a go-ahead score late in the third quarter after a wild touchdown got them within 20-14.

Nebraska forced a punt and then stretched the lead to two scores with a field goal. Baylor coach Guy Morriss tried sparking his offense by switching quarterbacks, but the move backfired as the Bears wound up committing turnovers on three of their last five

"That was by far the best defense we've seen all year," Morriss said. "We knew they would test us and they got to us. ... We were trying to throw from the pocket, and we were just getting overpowered."

The Cornhuskers, who came in with a national-best 30 sacks, had four more, with freshman Barry Turner getting two.

But Baylor got to Nebraska early, with quarterback Shawn Bell marching the Bears 81 yards on the opening drive. He converted twice on third-and-long and overcame another when an interception was erased by a roughing penalty. He scrambled for an 11-yard
touchdown on the next play for a 7-0 lead.

Taylor led the Cornhuskers to a field goal on their first series, and the second ended with a fumble inside the Baylor 10-yard line. A long punt return let them take over in nearly the same spot and soon after he threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Nunn. Nebraska added another field goal with 22 seconds left in the second quarter.

Up 13-7, the Cornhuskers came out running in the third quarter. Taylor's first pass turned into a 21-yard touchdown to Todd Peterson.

Taylor was 15-of-25 for 150 yards at that point. He finished 18-of-32 for 168 and scrambled five times for a season-best 30 yards, as Nebraska stuck with its running game in hopes of wearing out the Bears. Cory Ross ran for 93 yards and Cody Glenn added 41.

"I didn't think I played very well," Taylor said. "There was a lot of open guys I didn't get the ball to. But a win is a win, and we'll improve."

Baylor's only score the rest of the game came in a bizarre way: Trent Shelton caught an underthrown pass at the 25, broke two tackles and raced to the goal line, only to fumble at the one-foot line. Dominique Zeigler recovered in the end zone for the touchdown.

Officials initially ruled Shelton down at the 1, but Baylor called timeout. With the extra time, the call was overturned by replay.

Bell was 15-of-24 for 180 yards. Backup Terrence Parks went 2-of-6 for 22 with two interceptions.

"We wanted to try and just get a look at Terrence," Morriss said. "There has never been an ideal time to put him in, and we felt like we could here."

Brandon Whitaker led the Bears with 54 yards rushing.

Next up for Baylor is a three-game stretch that starts at Oklahoma, followed by home games against nationally ranked Texas Tech and Texas.

The game drew a crowd of 40,857, the largest at Floyd Casey Stadium since September 1996 for a game against anyone but Texas or Texas A&M.

Part of the allure was an honor for Mike Singletary and a halftime ceremony featuring him and the 1980 squad that won the Southwest Conference. About one-fourth of the fans, however, were backing Nebraska.

"Being on the road and having pressure situations is a good test," Callahan said.

Before the game, Singletary said he was pleased with his alma mater's progress in Morriss' third season.

"So many things are going well," he said. "That's very encouraging. I'm hopeful Baylor continues to go forward."