|Jerrell Pippens forces OSU quarterback Josh Fields to fumble, leading to a Husker touchdown.|
Lincoln -- While the pregame featured the largest player reunion in school history, it was only fitting that a pair of Husker legacies carried the day in Nebraska's 17-7 win over No. 24 Oklahoma State Saturday afternoon.
Linebacker Barrett Ruud's 15-yard fumble return with 10:50 remaining in the third quarter gave the Huskers the lead for good, as the Blackshirts forced five turnovers, including three interceptions, in holding the potent Cowboys to 183 yards of total offense, including just 57 in the second half.
Ruud, whose father, two uncles and great grandfather played at Nebraska, scored his first career touchdown, while making five stops in the win while I-back Josh Davis, another second-generation Husker, made the most of his second career start, rushing for a team-high 95 yards on 20 carries.
The win was NU's 17th straight season season-opening win, and was the Huskers' 20th straight over OSU in Lincoln dating back to 1962.
Nebraska opened up the contest with an impressive drive, going 54 yards in 11 plays before Sandro DeAngelis' 28-yard field goal gave the Huskers a quick 3-0 lead 4:41 into the contest. Davis gave the Huskers good field position with a 32-yard return on the opening kickoff, while toting five times for 31 yards on the drive.
Oklahoma State came right back on its first possession, as Josh Fields found Rashaun Woods for a four-yard touchdown pass, capping a nine-play, 52-yard drive to give the Cowboys a 7-3 advantage. Fields, who had 11 catches for 134 yards in last year's win over NU, was held in check after the first drive, finishing with five receptions for 47 yards, including three catches for 15 yards after the first drive.
Following the early fireworks, the game bogged down into a defensive stalemate for the rest of the half, as both teams struggled for points. Nebraska had a pair of opportunities in the first half, but missed two field goals, while the Cowboys, who were held to 126 first-half yards also squandered a field goal opportunity as Ryon Bingam blocked Luke Phillips' field goal attempt.
The Husker defense, whose five turnovers were the most in a game since the 2001 campaign, took control of the contest early in the second half, forcing three turnovers in one four-possession stretch, as OSU which won its last four games in 2002, was stymied throughout the contest.
On OSU's second possession after halftime, Ruud recovered Tatum Bell's fumble and rumbled 15 yards to a touchdown to give the Huskers a 10-7 advantage. It was not only his first career score, but the first Husker by the Blackshirts since the 2002 season opener.
The Blackshirts collected their fourth turnover of the afternoon late in the third quarter as Jerrell Pippens forced a Fields' fumble that Bingham returned to the OSU 13-yard line. The Huskers would cash in three plays later on a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Judd Davies with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter, giving NU a 17-7 lead.
While the opportunistic defense converted the five OSU miscues into 14 Husker points, the Huskers kept the Cowboys off the field with a solid ground attack, rushing for 268 yards while taking 36:48 off the clock. Jammal Lord was efficient by completing 8-of-16 passes for 78 yards and rushing for 90 yards on 18 carries.
The Huskers return to action next Saturday against Utah State, in a game that will be carried on Fox Sports Net. Kickoff for the nationally televised tilt is set for 11:30 a.m.