LINCOLN, Neb. - Of the five Arizona State turnovers that helped Nebraska beat the Sun Devils 45-24 yesterday, Bruce Moore's 54-yard interception return for a touchdown was probably the key.
"I guess it was a big play," Moore said. "A defensive touchdown shows up really big on the scoreboard. That's good, because we let down awhile."
The Cornhuskers (3-1) rebounded from last week's 29-14 loss to No. 2 Washington. Arizona State, which had seven turnovers against Nebraska in an 18-9 loss a year ago, dropped to 1-2.
"We were able to make some big plays, get some turnovers and field position, which we didn't have last week," Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said. "I guess that's the difference."
"We can't be that inefficient and hope to win games," said Arizona State Coach Bruce Snyder. "It doesn't matter if we get 1,000 yards, it's just not going to happen."
Moore, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior, used all of his long reach to stab his interception, then outran the Sun Devils to the end zone.
"I was just waiting for somebody to hit me," he said. "John (Parrella) got good pressure (on the quarterback) and the ball just came to me. I was not tired, I thought, but I was waiting for someone to clip me from behind."
Nebraska used a pair of turnovers to build a 24-10 halftime lead.
Ed Stewart picked off redshirt freshman quarterback Garrick McGee's pass on the first play of the game and set up Nebraska at the Arizona State 38. Six plays later, quarterback Mike Grant ran in from 5 yards out.
David Seizys recovered a bobbled punt by Sun Devil Adam Brass late in the half and Derek Brown went 9 yards on the next play.
Grant hit tight end Gerald Armstrong with a 7-yard pass for Nebraska's third first-half score.
Calvin Jones, who rushed for 111 yards on 17 carries, ran 24 yards for a touchdown after Corey Dixon opened the second half with a 50-yard kickoff return. Moore's interception return 27 seconds later made it 38-10.
"We wanted to come out the second half and go down and score," Jones said. "We did. But the momentum didn't really shift as we expected it to."
Mario Bates, the nation's second-leading rusher with a 161-yard average, helped Arizona State challenge again, however, with a pair of touchdowns on runs of 6 and 9 yards.
"They have never led me to believe that I should doubt them," Snyder said of his team's rally. "Sometimes you tread on virgin turf and you're curious, but I never had any reason to doubt that we would play hard."
The Huskers defense stiffened thereafter.
"It was a matter of pride," linebacker Travis Hill said. "They were running up and down the field on us. If they'd have got that (next touchdown), they might have won the game."
But fullback Lance Lewis bounced out of the middle of the line and raced 50 yards to pad Nebraska's lead with 2:28 left.
The Huskers had 319 yards rushing and 50 passing against a team that held Louisville to 13 total yards in a 19-0 victory last week. Arizona State managed 251 yards rushing and 263 through the air against Nebraska.
Bates, who was injured and helped from the field with 18 seconds left, carried 23 times for 118 yards.