LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - Brett Smith and Wyoming were right there at halftime, down only 14-7 to No. 9 Nebraska in the Huskers' first visit to Laramie.
But the freshman quarterback and the Cowboys couldn't keep up over the final two quarters and dropped a grinder of a game 38-14 on Saturday. Not that they didn't get something positive out of it.
``It's a great experience, particularly with a lot of these young kids that we're playing,' third-year Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. ``To go out there and play that caliber of play, it'll do nothing but help our football program.'
The game was billed as the biggest in Wyoming's history since hosting top 10, non-conference teams is a rarity at War Memorial Stadium. It drew 32,617 fans, many wearing Nebraska red, making the stadium the third-largest population center in Wyoming on Saturday.
Wyoming (3-1) entered the game with its first 3-0 start since 1996, although two of its games this year were against FCS teams. The Cowboys were averaging 36 points a game and 492.3 yards total offense, including 226.7 yards rushing.
Nebraska's defense put an end to Wyoming's good times on offense, holding the Cowboys to 137 yards rushing and 305 yards total offense.
``We just couldn't finish drives and penalties hurt us,' Smith said. ``Against a team like Nebraska you can't do things like that. I still feel we had a good game plan and had our opportunities.'
Smith completed 17 of 33 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns - a 48-yard pass to Mazi Ogbonna and a 10-yard pass to Robert Herron.
``Brett had a nice game,' Christensen said. ``To play the way he did against a team like Nebraska as a true freshman, I thought he handled the game well.'
Wyoming trailed only 14-7 at the half, but big plays haunted the Cowboys' defense. Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead gained a career-high 170 yards and scored two TDs, one from 45 yards out and another from 16 yards.
``We did some great things,' Wyoming linebacker Gabe Knapton said. ``It just came down to some execution. They only time they had big plays was when we had breakdowns.'
The Huskers scored on their first two possessions of the second half and opened a 31-7 lead on Burkhead's 16-yard scamper, a 20-yard field goal by Brett Mahar and an 8-yard TD pass from Martinez to Kenny Bell.
Smith answered with a scoring strike to Herron, only to see Nebraska drive for a score on its next possession on a 1-yard run by Braylon Heard.
It was Nebraska's first road game at a non-BCS conference school since a 38-14 win in 2003 at Southern Miss., and the first time the Huskers had visited Laramie even though the two states border each other. All five previous meetings, all Husker wins, were in Lincoln, Neb.
The stadium has a listed capacity of just about 29,200, which the smallest stadium Nebraska has played in since 1971. Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium, where Nebraska will make its Big Ten debut next weekend, seats 80,000.
``I'm sure it will be different up in Madison for our offense,' coach Bo Pelini said.
Bob Moen can be reached at www.twitter.com/bobmoen
The Associated Press News Service
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