Wyoming coach Dave Christensen had to tip his hat to his quarterback after Brett Smith kept alive the Cowboys’ upset hopes all the way until the final seconds Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
Christensen described his junior as being among the “special” quarterbacks that he’s ever coached.
“He throws, he can get away, he can run and he is a great competitor and a great leader,” Christensen said. “He did some things in the second half on the sideline with his teammates which were unbelievable. When times got tough he never lost his focus.”
Smith, who also started against Nebraska as a freshman in 2011, completed 29 of 43 passes for 383 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. After Nebraska took a 37-21 lead, the junior led the Cowboys to a pair of scores in the final 6:02 to get them within 37-34 (the final margin).
Nebraska also failed to sack Smith, although a potential one by Randy Gregory was negated by a roughing-the-passer penalty.
“The guy’s good,” NU coach Bo Pelini said. “He’s one of the better quarterbacks I’ve seen in a while as far as buying time and being elusive in the pocket. But when you get home, you’ve got to get the guy on the ground. We didn’t always do a good job of that.”
Some other late-night final notes from Memorial Stadium:
>> Nebraska has now won 28 straight season-opening games, but the previous 27 were all decided by nine points or more.
>> Taylor Martinez became the first quarterback in NU history to start four consecutive season-opening games.
>> Nebraska played seven true freshmen – Josh Banderas, Nathan Gerry, Terrell Newby, Gabe Miller, Cethan Carter, Kevin Maurice and Maliek Collins.
>> Interesting stat: Although Wyoming managed 35 first downs — more than any NU opponent – it was just 1 of 8 on third-down conversions.
>> Sophomore linebacker David Santos led the Husker defense with a career-high 12 tackles.