Huskers and Spartans Clash at Memorial Stadium

By NU Athletic Communications
The Husker offense has scored five or more touchdowns in four straight games dating back to last season.
The Husker offense has scored five or more touchdowns in four straight games dating back to last season.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska matches up with San Jose State after both teams were victorious in their season openers on Saturday night. The Huskers won their season opener for a nation-leading 23rd straight season with a 47-24 victory over Western Michigan at Memorial Stadium. Quarterback Joe Ganz threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns to lead the high-powered NU offense. San Jose State pulled out a 13-10 victory over UC-Davis with a 17-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds remaining in the game.

The Series
The matchup will mark the second all-time meeting between Nebraska and San Jose State. The Huskers defeated the Spartans, 49-13, in the season opener in 2000, when NU rolled up 505 rushing yards. This week’s matchup marks the first of two straight games against WAC opponents with New Mexico State on the schedule Sept. 13.

The Coaches
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State 90) is in his first season with the Huskers. Pelini owns a 2-0 career record. In addition to the season-opening victory over Western Michigan, Pelini led Nebraska to a victory as interim head coach in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. Pelini has served as defensive coordinator at Nebraska, Oklahoma and most recently LSU over the past five seasons. Previously, he had stints as an NFL assistant with San Francisco, New England and Green Bay.

San Jose State: Dick Tomey (DePauw 60) is 18-19 in his fourth season as the head coach at San Jose State and 176-129-7 overall in 28 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Tomey previously served as a head coach at Hawaii and Arizona. He is 1-2 against Nebraska, 0-2 at Hawaii and 1-0 at Arizona.

Husker Offense Picks Up Where it Left Off
Nebraska had one of the nation’s most explosive offenses in the second half of the 2007 season and appears to possess the same firepower in 2008. Nebraska opened the season by putting up 483 total yards in a 47-24 victory over Western Michigan, including 345 yards through the air.

NU finished last year ranked ninth nationally in total offense at 468.3 yards per game, and seventh in passing at 323.8 yards per game. The passing average was a school record, while the total offensive average was Nebraska’s best in a decade.

After Nebraska’s 483-yard effort against Western Michigan the Huskers have...

  • Gained 400 total yards or more in six straight games. That marks the longest streak by Nebraska since the Huskers topped 400 total yards in 18 straight games from the 1996 Orange Bowl through the fourth game of the 1998 season.
  • The Huskers are averaging 569.8 yards per game over their past four games, including 438.3 yards per game through the air. Nebraska is averaging 52.5 points over its past four games.
  • Among Nebraska’s offensive explosion to finish last year was a 702-yard day against Kansas State, the 10th-best output in school history and the best since 1995.

Quick-Strike Offense
Nebraska scored on eight of its first 10 possessions against Western Michigan, including seven straight drives after being forced to punt on its opening possession. Nebraska produced five touchdown drives that covered an average of more than 65 yards, but it took the Huskers an average of just 4.4 plays and only 1:38 to find the end zone.

Four of NU’s five touchdown drives took less than two minutes, including each of the final three TD drives, when Nebraska found the end zone in 47, 37 and 37 seconds, respectively. Nebraska scored in four plays or less on four of its five touchdown drives, including a two-play, 74-yard scoring march on its final touchdown drive.

Ganz has now directed the Husker offense to seven touchdown drives under one minute in his last two games. Overall, the senior has guided the offense to 10 touchdown drives under one minute in his first four career starts, while the average length of Nebraska’s touchdown drives over that stretch is just 2:05.

NU Offense a Touchdown Machine
Nebraska scored five touchdowns in its season-opening victory over Western Michigan, and has scored five or more touchdowns in each of its last four games.

  • The last time Nebraska scored at least five touchdowns in four straight games was during the 2001 season, when the offense was directed by Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch. The Huskers’ current streak includes the only four starts of quarterback Joe Ganz’s career.
  • During the current streak, Nebraska has scored a whopping 27 touchdowns, averaging nearly seven touchdowns per game. That marks the Huskers’ best production since NU scored 29 touchdowns in its first four Big 12 Conference games during the 2000 season.

Ganz Continues Torrid Passing Streak
Senior quarterback Joe Ganz has been the man directing the high-octance Husker offense. Ganz started the final three games of the 2007 season and is firmly entrenched as NU’s starter this fall. The Palos Heights, Ill., native has been nothing short of exceptional since taking over the quarterback role.

Ganz has thrown for at least 345 yards in his four starts, the only quarterback in school history with four 300-yard passing games. He also produced three of the five 400-yard passing days in school history in his three starts last season and the top two passing games in NU history 510 yards against Kansas State and 484 yards at Colorado. He also posted the top two total offense games in NU history with 528 yards against KSU and 521 vs. Colorado.

2008 Opening Act Impressive for Ganz
While his 345 yards passing did not match the gaudy numbers Ganz posted in three starts last November, he continued to make his mark in the Nebraska record books.

  • The 345 yards passing were the most ever in a Nebraska season opener and ranked No. 9 on the Husker single-game passing list.
  • Ganz connected with seven different receivers and completed six passes of 20 yards or more.
  • Ganz has had at least four touchdown passes in each of his four starts with 19 total in the four-game period. His 19 TD passes are the most ever by a Nebraska quarterback in a four-game stretch. For perspective, the NU season record for passing touchdowns is 26 by Zac Taylor in 2006.

Swift Gets Senior Year Off to Quick Start
Wide receiver Nate Swift has been a key component in the Husker passing game since 2005, and it appears he will be Joe Ganz’s No. 1 target in 2008. Arguably Nebraska’s most experienced player, Swift has played in 39 games with 17 career starts. He opened his senior year with five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Western Michigan.

Swift’s impressive evening included a career-long 61-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, bettering a 49-yard reception against Troy in 2006. He added a two-yard TD reception late in the second quarter, giving Nebraska a 34-10 halftime edge.

The two-touchdown effort was the fourth of Swift’s career and pushed his career TD total to 14, good for a tie for fourth on the Nebraska career chart. Swift also tallied his fifth career 100-yard receiving effort, tying him with Irving Fryar for second on that Nebraska career list. Only Johnny Rodgers stands in front of Swift with 10 career 100-yard games.

Swift also has Rodgers’ school record total of 143 career receptions in his sights. Swift enters the San Jose State game with 108 career catches, good for fourth on the list, just behind teammate Marlon Lucky’s 111 catches. Swift has caught a pass in 33 of 39 career games and has had at least two catches in six straight games.

Swift burst onto the scene in 2005, when he caught a Nebraska freshman record 45 passes, including seven touchdown grabs. He added 22 catches as a sophomore. Swift caught 36 passes for 520 yards and three touchdowns as a junior, helping Nebraska to a No. 7 national ranking in passing offense.

Henery Continues Perfect Husker Career
Sophomore place-kicker Alex Henery tied a Memorial Stadium record against Western Michigan, as he booted four field goals in the Huskers’ win. The four field goals, each of which came from 44 yards, not only tied the Memorial Stadium record, but ranked second all-time at Nebraska for most field goals in a game. It also marked the first time in school history that a kicker has connected on four field goals of 40 yards or more (NCAA record is 5).


The strong performance to open the 2008 season came on the heels of Henery’s perfect kicking season in 2007. A year ago, he made all eight of his field-goal attempts, while connecting on 45-of-45 PATs.

  • Henery’s 12 consecutive made field goals is five off the Nebraska and Big 12 record of 17 straight by Kris Brown spanning the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
  • In addition to Henery’s 12 field goals and 50 PATs, fellow sophomore Adi Kunalic has made his only PAT and field goal attempts of his career. Overall, Nebraska kickers have made 82 consecutive kicks dating back to 2006, including 15 straight field goals and 67 consecutive PATs.

Glenn Makes Strong Defensive Debut
Senior Cody Glenn appears to have made a quick transition to the defensive side of the football. A running back for the Huskers for his first three seasons at Nebraska, Glenn switched to linebacker during spring ball and quickly moved to the top of the depth chart at WILL linebacker.

Nebraska fans as well as Western Michigan’s offense got a first-hand look at Glenn’s defensive ability on Saturday night. Glenn threw WMU quarterback Tim Hiller for a two-yard loss on the Broncos’ first offensive snap, setting the tone for a big night for the Texas native.

Glenn finished with a team-high 12 tackles, including nine solo stops and three tackles for loss. He also caused a Western Michigan fumble and broke up three passes, just one PBU shy of the NU record for breakups by a linebacker.

Glenn battled injuries during his time at running back, but tallied 579 yards and 14 touchdowns on 143 career carries, before making the switch to defense.

Blackshirts Show Play-Making Ability in Opener
Glenn was the most notable Husker defender in the opener, but the defense as a whole showed the ability to be much-improved over last year’s disappointing effort.

  • The Huskers produced four sacks for 28 yards in losses. Last season, Nebraska finished the year with a total of 13 sacks, including five games without a single sack.
  • Nebraska had two takeaways against the Broncos, after forcing just one turnover in the final seven games of last season. The NU defense had just 11 takeaways during the entire 2007 season.
  • Behind the four sacks and eight tackles for loss, the Blackshirts held Western Michigan to just eight yards rushing. The rushing total was the lowest by a Nebraska opponent since Maine had -6 yards rushing in the 2005 season opener.


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