SAN DIEGO — Nebraska lived by its defense all season. The Holiday Bowl was no exception.
The No. 20 Huskers posted the first shutout in the 32-year history of the bowl, blanking No. 22 Arizona 33-0 on a rainy Wednesday night.
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 Zac 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, Niles 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.
Return Yards (-1) 82
Time of Possession21:4838:12
Arizona0000— 0 Nebraska1013100—33
Neb—Lee 4 run (Henery kick), 13:45.
Neb—FG Henery 47, 8:53.
Neb—Burkhead 5 run (Henery kick), 11:57.
Neb—FG Henery 50, 8:25.
Neb—FG Henery 41, :35.
Neb—FG Henery 22, 10:07.
Neb—Paul 74 pass from Lee (Henery kick), 3:39.
Rushing—Arizona, Antolin 11-69, Grigsby 4-8, Scott 1-4, Criner 1-1, Foles 3-(minus 19). Nebraska, Burkhead 17-89, Lee 18-65, Paul 1-20, C.Green 5-18, Ward 2-14, Helu 3-8, Robinson 1-6, A.Jones 1-3.
Passing—Arizona, Foles 6-20-1-28, Scott 4-11-0-18. Nebraska, Lee 13-23-0-173, C.Green 0-2-0-0.
Receiving—Arizona, Dean 3-24, Antolin 2-12, Criner 2-2, Grigsby 2-0, T.Turner 1-8. Nebraska, Paul 4-123, McNeill 3-19, Burkhead 2-14, Kinnie 2-12, Gilleylen 1-3, Brooks 1-2.
Idaho 43, Bowling Green 42 — Max Komar made a sliding 16-yard touchdown catch with 4 seconds left and Nathan Enderle passed to Preston Davis for the 2-point conversion, lifting Idaho.
The Falcons took a 42-35 lead with 32 seconds left on a 51-yard pass from Tyler Sheehan to Freddie Barnes, who slipped behind the Idaho secondary for his 17th catch of the game and No. 155 in his record-setting season.
But Idaho answered with a 50-yard heave from Enderle to Davis that got the ball to the Bowling Green 16. After an incompletion with 8 seconds left, Enderle found Komar — who had dropped a number of passes — in the middle of the field, and he slid to cradle the low pass.
Coach Robb Akey then decided to go for the 2-point conversion and Enderle threw to Davis alone in the back of the end zone.
When the Falcons were tackled on the ensuing kickoff, Vandals fans poured onto the blue turf of their rivals to celebrate the second bowl win in school history.
Bowling Green140721—42 Idaho771415—43
BG—Barnes 35 pass from Sheehan (Norsic kick), 11:44.
Id—Bjorvik 3 pass from Enderle (Farquhar kick), 7:49.
BG—Geter 59 run (Norsic kick), :19.
Id—Greenwood 7 pass from Enderle (Farquhar kick), :19.
Id—Woolridge 8 run (Farquhar kick), 9:25.
Id—Woolridge 13 run (Farquhar kick), 5:30.
BG—Scheidler 15 pass from Sheehan (Norsic kick), 3:40.
BG—Barnes 5 pass from Sheehan (Norsic kick), 12:15.
Id—P.Davis 30 pass from Enderle (Farquhar kick), 8:32.
BG—Geter 2 run (Norsic kick), 3:51.
BG—Barnes 51 pass from Sheehan (Norsic kick), :32.
Id—Komar 16 pass from Enderle (P.Davis pass from Enderle), :04.
Rushing—Bowling Green, Geter 14-96, Hodges 1-26, Sheehan 8-25, Barnes 1-3. Idaho, Woolridge 22-126, McCarty 9-75, Komar 1-6, Jackson 4-6, Enderle 2-(minus 1).
Passing—Bowling Green, Sheehan 33-47-1-387, Barnes 1-1-0-1. Idaho, Enderle 15-28-0-240.
Receiving—Bowling Green, Barnes 17-219, C.Wright 7-72, Geter 5-65, Scheidler 2-16, Hutson 2-9, Hodges 1-7. Idaho, P.Davis 4-119, Shaw 4-61, Greenwood 3-19, Hardy 1-17, Komar 1-16, McCarty 1-5, Bjorvik 1-3.