Updated

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Rugged and rather simplistic in its effectiveness, Nebraska’s road game plan rocked a second straight Big 12 North Division opponent. Photos

Using an offensive attack that leaned toward the run coupled with stout defense, the 21st-ranked Huskers rolled to a workmanlike 21-3 triumph over Kansas State on Saturday night, a victory that resembled last week’s at Iowa State.

A crowd of 50,723 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium watched Nebraska improve to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in league play, giving the Huskers sole possession of first place in the North Division.

In snapping a four-game skid in Manhattan, Nebraska finished with 190 rushing yards and held Kansas State (4-3, 1-2 Big 12) to 22 yards on the ground. That number drops to minus-16 if you subtract 38 yards gained on a fake punt.

“We had a stalwart effort today against their running attack,” Husker coach Bill Callahan said. “We forced them into a one-dimensional game. We pressured the quarterback consistently and forced them into positions I don’t think they were too comfortable in.”

Much of the fan and media focus during the week fell on K-State true freshman quarterback Josh Freeman, who last December reneged on an oral commitment to Nebraska.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Freeman generally held up well, completing 23 of 47 passes for 272 yards, with two interceptions — including one that occurred in the final moments with the outcome long since decided. He was sacked four times by four different defenders.

Asked if he was glad the week is over, Freeman said, “No. I wish I could go back and play it again.“

Asked if there were any extracurricular hits or other activity, Freeman said, “A little bit. Not that much. I got hit a couple of times I felt was unnecessary, but not too extreme.”

While Nebraska’s defensive line dominated K-State’s o-line much of the time, the Husker offensive line helped establish the ground game early in the contest. I-back Brandon Jackson led the way with 92 yards on 16 attempts, and Marlon Lucky carried 12 times for 71 yards.

Nebraska I-backs on several occasions used cut-back moves to their advantage.

“They fast-flow to the ball, and the cut-back was there,” Jackson said.

Nebraska, meanwhile, is right where it wants to be in the league race with Texas coming to Lincoln this coming weekend.

“These two road games were key, crucial,” Callahan said of his team’s back-to-back wins. “It’s imperative, on the road in the Big 12, that you run the ball well and play good run defense. That was our emphasis.”

Lucky, the third Nebraska I-back to enter the game, behind Jackson and Cody Glenn, arguably supplied the knockout blow with a 40-yard touchdown run that gave the Huskers a 21-0 lead with 8:55 left in the third quarter. A 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore, Lucky slipped through safety Kyle Williams’ grasp and out-sprinted cornerback Justin McKinney to paydirt.

Kansas State got on the board with 4:43 left in the third quarter on Jeff Snodgrass’ 53-yard field goal. Freeman found some rhythm in the passing game during the 12-play scoring drive, but the Wildcats never found much consistency.

Nebraska went up 14-0 with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that featured eight runs, including four carries by Jackson (for 25 yards). The key play was Taylor’s 24-yard run on a perfectly executed bootleg right that took the Huskers to K-State’s 3-yard line.

On the next play, Taylor lofted a touchdown pass to tight end Josh Mueller with 11:02 remaining in the second quarter. The Huskers were in control.

By halftime, the 5-11, 210-pound Jackson had 15 carries for 91 yards. Nebraska held the ball for 18:25 before the break, and Kansas State was 0-for-6 on third-down conversions. The Wildcats wound up 1-for-13.

Nebraska, as has been the case most of the season, broke from the gate quickly, this time with the help of some trickery. With the Huskers lined up for a 34-yard field goal, holder Jake Wesch took the snap, rolled to his right and fired a 17-yard touchdown strike to wide open tight end Hunter Teafatiller.

“It couldn’t have been better timing,” Callahan said.

The touchdown capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by Jackson’s 48-yard run.

Kansas State responded with some trickery of its own. On fourth-and-3 at its 9, Daniel Gonzalez, the up-back in punt formation, took the snap and rambled 38 yards. However, the Wildcats’ drive stalled, a recurring theme on this night.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.