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Huskers, KSU Collide in Big 12 Showdown

By NU Athletic Communications
Demorrio Williams and the Huskers host Kansas State on Saturday.
Demorrio Williams and the Huskers host Kansas State on Saturday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Game 11 -- No. 18/15 Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) vs. No. --/25 Kansas St. (8-3, 4-2)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 15, 2003
2:36 p.m.(CST)
Site: Lincoln, Neb.

Stadium: Memorial Stadium
Tom Osborne Field
FieldTurf (1999)

Capacity: 73,918 (262nd Consecutive Sellout)
Nebraska Radio: 57-station Pinnacle Sports Network (Jim Rose–Play-by-Play; Adrian Fiala–Analyst; Gary Sharp–Sideline)
Internet: Live Radio on Huskers.com
TV: ABC, Regional (Brent Musburger–Play-by-Play; Gary Danielson–Analyst; Jack Arute–Sideline)
Special Events: Senior Day, Veteran’s Day Salute, Toys for Tots Collection

Huskers, Kansas State Collide in Big 12 North Showdown
Nebraska completes its 2003 home schedule on Saturday afternoon with its toughest test of the year at Memorial Stadium against North Division rival Kansas State. The Huskers enter the game with an 8-2 overall record and 4-2 mark in the Big 12 Conference after a 24-3 victory over Kansas last Saturday in Lawrence, NU’s 35th straight victory over the Jayhawks. The victory allowed the Huskers to advance in this week’s national polls. Nebraska is ranked No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, and 18th in the Associated Press Poll, a one-spot jump in each poll from last week.

Kansas State is tied with Nebraska atop the Big 12’s North Division with a 4-2 conference record and an 8-3 overall mark. The Wildcats opened the year with four consecutive victories and were ranked in the nation’s top 10, before three consecutive losses, including road losses in their first two Big 12 games at Texas and Oklahoma State. Since those setbacks Kansas State has hit its stride, winning four straight games by an average of 34.5 points per contest. K-State is coming off a 45-0 shutout of Iowa State last Saturday in Ames, a victory that propelled the ‘Cats back into the national polls for the first time since early October. The Wildcats enter Saturday’s matchup ranked 25th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, while the Wildcats are first in others receiving votes in the AP poll.

Saturday’s game will go a long way toward determining the North representative in the Dec. 6 Big 12 Championship Game in Kansas City. The winner will be guaranteed at least a share of the North title, and would travel to Kansas City unless there was a three-way tie for the North crown, also involving Missouri. A Nebraska loss to Kansas State would eliminate the Huskers from contention for the division title.

The Huskers have a history of domination against Kansas State in Lincoln, winning each of the past 17 matchups against the Wildcats at Memorial Stadium. Kansas State’s last victory over the Huskers in Lincoln was a 12-0 victory in the 1968 season, also the last time Nebraska was shut out at home. Saturday will be Senior Day at Memorial Stadium, with the Huskers saying good-bye to a 34-man senior class. Kickoff is set for 2:36 p.m. (CST) on Saturday with the game televised regionally on ABC marking the Huskers’ ninth TV appearance in 11 games this season.

Nebraska Stays in Thick of Big 12 Race with Road Win at Kansas
Nebraska returned to its script for success during the 2003 season last Saturday, using a power running game and an opportunistic defense to post a 24-3 victory over Kansas in Lawrence. The victory before a sold-out KU Memorial Stadium extended Nebraska’s mastery of the Jayhawks to 35 straight games, the second-longest winning streak against an opponent in Division I-A history.

The Husker defense forced four turnovers in the victory, including three interceptions, while Nebraska ground out 290 rushing yards, including 173 in the second half. Nebraska controlled the early stages of the game with its rushing attack. The Huskers’ opening drive stalled after an untimely penalty, but the NU defense forced Kansas three-and-out on its next series. Nebraska responded by marching 54 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 28-yard David Dyches field goal for a 3-0 lead.

Kansas quarterback Adam Barmann was intercepted by Jerrell Pippens on the second play of Kansas’ next possession, and Nebraska converted. The Husker offense marched 58 yards in 10 plays, including nine rushes, with fullback Steve Kriewald covering the final yard for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead. Kansas controlled the clock for the remainder of the second quarter with its ball-control passing game. The Jayhawks got on the board just before halftime on a 20-yard Jerod Brooks field goal to cut NU’s lead to 10-3. The Jayhawks drove inside the Husker 10, but linebacker Demorrio Williams ran down Barmann on third-and-goal to force KU to kick a field goal. The initial Jayhawk kick attempt was blocked by Pippens, but an offside penalty gave KU a second opportunity.

Kansas was poised to tie the game on the first possession of the second half, but NU safety Daniel Bullocks picked off a Barmann pass at the NU 1. Sophomore I-back Cory Ross provided the NU offense with a needed spark, but the Huskers squandered a scoring opportunity of their own, as Kriewald fumbled at the goal line and KU recovered in the end zone. Nebraska wasted no time getting back in the Jayhawk red zone. Josh Bullocks intercepted his nation-leading ninth pass at the Kansas 38, and Nebraska scored four plays later on a four-yard Judd Davies touchdown burst. Davies capped the scoring with a three-yard touchdown with 8:49 to play.

Williams recovered a KU fumble deep in Nebraska territory in the final five minutes for the Huskers’ fourth takeaway of the day. Nebraska limited a high-powered Jayhawk offense to just 292 yards of total offense, while NU finished with 400 total yards, including 108 yards rushing by Ross and 195 yards of total offense by Jammal Lord.

Recapping Game 10...Nebraska 24, Kansas 3

  • The victory was Nebraska’s 35th straight win over Kansas, including 18 straight wins in Lawrence. The 35-game win streak over Kansas is the second-longest in Division I-A trailing only Notre Dame’s 40-game win streak over Navy.
  • Sophomore I-back Cory Ross rushed for a career-high 108 yards on 19 carries, all in the second half. Ross doubled his previous career high of 54 yards against Iowa State earlier this season, while his most carries before Saturday were nine attempts twice in his career.
  • The four takeaways against Kansas marked the 10th straight game this season that Nebraska has had at least two turnovers gained. Nebraska now has 39 takeaways in 10 games this season, the most under Frank Solich and the fifth most in school history. Nebraska has not had more takeaways since 1981 when it forced 42 turnovers.
  • Nebraska intercepted three Kansas passes on Saturday, marking the seventh straight game the Huskers have had at least two interceptions. Nebraska has 24 interceptions this season, its most in 32 seasons and the third most in school history. The NU defense has had at least one interception in all 10 games this season, including four games with three or more interceptions.
  • The Huskers converted KU’s four turnovers into 14 points, and has now converted 39 opponent turnovers into 124 points in 2003.
  • Senior linebacker Demorrio Williams had a career-high 14 tackles, running his season total to 97 tackles. Williams also had a career-best four tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks. Williams recovered his fourth fumble of the season, a Husker linebacker record and had a pair of quarterback hurries, including one that caused a Jayhawk interception.
  • Junior linebacker Barrett Ruud posted his fifth-straight game with 10 or more tackles, making 14 tackles. Ruud also had a fumble caused and made a tackle for loss. Ruud ran his season tackle total to 109 stops, the first Husker in five seasons to top the century mark in tackles. Ruud’s tackle total is the most by a Nebraska player since Mike Knox had 125 tackles in 1983. Ruud also moved into the top 10 on NU’s career tackle list.
  • Senior safety Jerrell Pippens made his first career start and responded with a career-high 12 tackles, a pass breakup and a first-quarter interception, his second of the 2003 season.
  • Sophomore free safety Josh Bullocks intercepted his NU record ninth pass of the season in the third quarter to set up a Husker touchdown. He now has 10 career interceptions, good for a tie for seventh on the Husker career list.
  • Josh’s twin brother, Daniel Bullocks intercepted his first career pass, ending a Kansas scoring threat in the third quarter.
  • Senior quarterback Jammal Lord accounted for 195 yards of total offense in the game, pushing his career total to 4,782 yards, good for sixth on the NU career list. Lord passed his position coach, Turner Gill, and 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier in Saturday’s game.
  • Senior fullback Judd Davies scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, the second time in his career he has rushed for two touchdowns in a game, also against Baylor in 2001. Davies now has 13 rushing touchdowns in his NU career, tying the position record for touchdowns, also held by Joel Makovicka (1995-98).
  • Fullback Steve Kriewald scored his first touchdown since Nov. 23, 2001, (Colorado) and NU’s three touchdowns by a fullback marked the first time NU fullbacks have produced three TDs since Joel Makovicka (3) and Willie Miller (1) combined for four in a 69-7 win over Oklahoma on Nov. 1, 1997.

Scouting Kansas State
Kansas State enters Saturday’s matchup in Lincoln with an 8-3 overall mark, and is tied with Nebraska for the Big 12 North lead with a 4-2 conference record. The Wildcats opened the season with four consecutive non-conference victories, but lost three straight games by a total of 15 points against Marshall, Texas and Oklahoma State. Since those setbacks, K-State has responded with four straight victories, defeating Colorado, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State by an average margin of 34.5 points.

Offensively, Kansas State is led by quarterback Ell Roberson, who ranks among the Big 12 leaders in rushing, passing, passing efficiency and total offense. Roberson has rushed for 696 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, while completing 55 percent of his passes for 1,641 yards and 18 touchdowns, against seven interceptions. Roberson’s 259.7 yards of total offense per game rank fifth in the Big 12 Conference and 25th nationally. Roberson missed two games earlier this season because of injury.

Tailback Darren Sproles has posted a second straight 1,000-yard season, with 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns in 11 games this season. Sproles averages 6.4 yards per carry and ranks second in the Big 12 and ninth nationally in rushing yards per game. Sproles is coming off a 201-yard effort at Iowa State on Saturday. Behind the play of Roberson and Sproles, the Wildcats rank 10th nationally in rushing offense at 221.6 yards per game. Senior wide receiver James Terry is K-State’s leading receiving threat with 50 catches for 909 yards and 10 touchdowns this fall. In total offense, K-State ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 24th nationally at 429.1 yards per game.

Kansas State has traditionally featured one of the nation’s top defenses, and 2003 is no different. The Wildcats are allowing an average of 268.6 yards per game, second in the Big 12 and sixth nationally. K-State is allowing 99.3 yards per game on the ground and 169.3 yards per contest through the air, both among the nation’s top 25 in those categories. Senior linebacker Josh Buhl is a Butkus Award semifinalist and the leader of the Wildcat defense. Buhl has 145 total tackles this fall, including eight tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Bryan Hickman has added 78 tackles and 10 tackles for loss this season.

Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder
Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder is in his 15th season as the Wildcats’ head coach, the longest tenure of any head football coach in the Big 12. Snyder has guided Kansas State to a 124-54-1 (.696) record and directed the Wildcats to bowl games in each of the last 10 seasons. Snyder has five 11-win seasons in the past six years, and last season Kansas State finished with a No. 7 final ranking. Snyder is 3-11 against Nebraska, 0-7 against the Huskers in Lincoln.

Nebraska-Kansas State Series...NU leads 72-13-2
Nebraska owns a commanding 72-13-2 edge in the all-time series between the two schools, but Kansas State has captured three of the last five matchups, all in Manhattan.

The Huskers hold a 39-7 advantage against Kansas State in Lincoln, and have won the past 17 meetings in Lincoln since a 12-0 Kansas State victory late in the 1968 season. NU has scored at least 31 points in each of its 17 consecutive victories over the Wildcats in Lincoln.

Kansas State is coming off its most lopsided victory ever against Nebraska, a 49-13 defeat of the Huskers last fall in Manhattan. The Wildcats jumped to a 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter, before the Huskers closed to within 21-13 early in the third period. K-State regained momentum midway through the third quarter and capped the game by scoring two touchdowns in the game’s final five minutes to account for the final margin.

Nebraska rushed for just 97 yards against the Wildcats last season, marking one of just five times under Frank Solich Nebraska has not rushed for at least 100 yards. Quarterback Jammal Lord led the NU rushing attack with 47 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown run, and he also threw for 134 yards in the contest. K-State racked up 415 yards rushing, the most by an NU opponent in 15 seasons, and finished the game with better than 500 yards of total offense. Wildcat quarterback Ell Roberson rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries, while tailback Darren Sproles added 155 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.

NU-Kansas State Series Notes

  • Nebraska is ranked heading into its meeting with Kansas State for the 34th time in the last 35 years, with last year the lone exception.
  • This year’s game will be televised regionally on ABC, marking the seventh time in the last 10 years ABC has carried the contest. Each of the last 10 meetings between the two schools has been televised, after none of the first 78 matchups were televised.
  • Kansas State’s 12-0 shutout of Nebraska in Lincoln in 1968 marks the last time the Huskers were blanked at home. Since that game Nebraska has scored in each of its last 227 home games. That loss also marks the last time NU did not score at least 31 points against the Wildcats in Lincoln.
  • Fifteen of Nebraska’s 17 consecutive victories over Kansas State in Lincoln have been by at least 17 points, with the only exceptions a 31-21 win in 2001, and a 38-31 victory in 1991.

Huskers from Kansas
Nebraska has three players on its roster from the state of Kansas, including reserve fullback Philip Kniep (Belleville), reserve linebacker Peter Atha (Topeka) and place-kicker Dale Endorf (Wichita), who is out for the season with a knee injury.

Nebraska Head Coach Frank Solich
Coach Frank Solich (Nebraska, 1966) is in his sixth season at the helm of the Husker program with a 57-18 school and career record (.760). Solich ranks fifth among active coaches with at least five years of service in winning percentage.

With a victory over Oklahoma State in the season opener, Solich collected his 50th win in just his 66th game as Nebraska’s head coach, the same amount as his Hall of Fame predecessor Tom Osborne (50-14-2). Solich’s 49 wins in his first five seasons as a head coach tied him for third place on the all-time Division I-A list for most wins in the first five years of a head coaching career.

Solich has piled up a number of notable accomplishments during his Nebraska tenure including...

  • The Nebraska graduate has set NU records for most wins after two, three, four, five and six years as head coach, bettering Devaney and Osborne. Nebraska’s 24-3 victory over Kansas gave Solich his 57th win in his first six years, two better than Osborne’s 55 wins in 73 games at the conclusion of his sixth season.
  • Becoming just the third first-year Nebraska head coach to record nine wins in his first season at the helm, joining a pair of Hall of Fame Coaches–Tom Osborne (9-2-1 in 1973) and Bob Devaney (9-2 in 1962).
  • He posted the best record of any Husker second-year coach, as his team posted a 12-1 record in 1999, leading NU to a Big 12 championship and No. 2 (coaches poll) and No. 3 (AP poll) final national rankings.
  • Solich was named the 1999 Big 12 Coach of the Year by his league peers and the AP after winning the league championship, and was named coach of the year by the conference coaches a second time in 2001.
  • Solich is the only Husker coach to have won 12 games in either of his first two seasons. In fact, neither Devaney nor Osborne had an 11-win campaign in their first four years, with Devaney posting a pair of 10-win seasons and Osborne hitting 10 wins in his third season.
  • Solich tied Devaney by winning his first conference title his second year, while Osborne tied for his first title in his third year at the helm.

Solich has continued Nebraska's winning tradition the Husker way–by identification of athletic talent regardless of position or recruiting rank; with successful recruitment nationwide of the country's best student-athletes; developing local talent and utilizing the envious Husker walk-on program; and by providing the best athletic facilities and support available for the student-athletes.

Solich also recognizes the Husker tradition, which is most evident in his coaching staff. Including Solich, six of Nebraska’s 10 full-time coaches played college ball at Nebraska. Solich is one of 19 current Division I-A football coaches who played for and now coach their alma mater.

Solich was named Nebraska’s 26th head coach on Dec. 10, 1997, after serving as an NU assistant for 19 years. He played fullback for Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney, lettering in 1963-64-65. Solich was the first Husker running back to rush for 200 yards in a game and remains the only fullback to accomplish that feat. He also lettered for the NU baseball team in 1965. After serving as a local high school football coach for 14 years, Solich took over the NU freshman program and posted a 19-1 record from 1979 to 1982. He was elevated to NU’s running backs coach after four seasons, a position he held for 15 years (1983-97). He was promoted to assistant head coach in 1991 and head coach following the 1997 season. Solich earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NU in 1966 and 1972, respectively.

Husker Coaching Staff Boasts Experience at All Levels
Solich is surrounded by several new faces on his coaching staff for the 2003 season. Six new coaches are on the NU staff, including three assistants on each side of the ball, led by new offensive and defensive coordinators.

The new Husker assistants (previous coaching stop) include...

  • Barney Cotton, Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line (Offensive coordinator, New Mexico State)
  • Bo Pelini, Defensive Coordinator, (Linebackers, Green Bay Packers)
  • Tim Albin, Running Backs/Passing Game Coordinator, (Graduate Assistant, Nebraska)
  • Scott Downing, Tight Ends/Kickers & Punters/Recruiting Coordinator (Ass’t. Head Coach, RBs, Purdue)
  • Marvin Sanders, Defensive Backs, (Secondary, Colorado State)
  • Jimmy Williams, Linebackers (Defensive Line, Toledo)

All of the new assistants had previous Nebraska ties except for Pelini, who came to Nebraska from the NFL coaching ranks and played college football at Ohio State. The newcomers joined assistants Ron Brown (17th year), Turner Gill (12th year) and Jeff Jamrog (4th year). Brown continues to coach Nebraska's wide receivers. Gill remains the Huskers' quarterbacks coach and added the title of assistant head coach. Jamrog is again coaching the Husker defensive tackles, and is also tutoring the defensive ends and serves as Nebraska's special teams coordinator.

Thirty-Four Seniors to Play Final Game at Memorial Stadium
Husker faithful will have their final opportunity to see the 2003 Husker seniors play at Memorial Stadium on Saturday against Kansas State. This year’s senior class includes 34 players, including 11 starters on this year’s squad–five on offense, five on defense, and one on special teams. Fullback Judd Davies, offensive tackle Dan Vili Waldrop and punter Kyle Larson are all in their third season as starters, while nose tackle Ryon Bingham, defensive end Trevor Johnson, quarterback Jammal Lord and linebacker Demorrio Williams are in their second season in the starting lineup.

The majority of the members of Nebraska’s senior class will take part in their fifth bowl game this fall.

  • The group has helped Nebraska to 48 victories in the last five seasons, including an 11-2 record and national championship game appearance in the 2001 season.
  • NU’s senior class has helped the Huskers to a 32-2 record at Memorial Stadium since the 1999 season, including a 6-0 home mark this fall.
  • Members of Nebraska’s 2003 senior class hail from 12 different states, in addition to Canada (Patrick Kabongo).

Rushing Game Could Hold Key in NU-KSU Matchup
Saturday’s matchup between Nebraska and Kansas State will feature two of the nation’s best rushing attacks, led by dual-threat quarterbacks. Nebraska ranks first in the Big 12 and fifth nationally in rushing offense at 241.6 yards per game, while Kansas State averages 221.6 per game on the ground to rank 10th in the nation.

  • Before last season, Nebraska had out-gained Kansas State in the rushing department in each of the previous 33 meetings between the two schools. However, that trend came to a halt last year, when Kansas State pounded out 415 yards on the ground and held the Huskers to 97 rushing yards. Nebraska has been held to less than 100 yards rushing in just five games under Coach Frank Solich.
  • Nebraska has topped 200 yards rushing in 30 of the last 34 meetings with Kansas State, while the Wildcats have rushed for less than 100 yards in 24 of those games.
  • The Huskers have averaged nearly 250 yards rushing in the past eight meetings. After last year’s 415-yard rushing outburst, the Wildcats have averaged just less than 150 yards rushing in the past eight games against Nebraska.
  • Before last season, Kansas State had not outgained Nebraska on the ground since holding a rushing edge in a 12-0 victory over NU in Lincoln in 1968.

No Free Passes
Although establishing the run has been a key to the outcome in the Nebraska-Kansas State series, the Huskers and Wildcats each hope to have a passing threat in the game. In the past four meetings, neither team has relied on the passing game.

  • Kansas State has completed 10 or more passes in just two of the last seven meetings with Nebraska.
  • NU has intercepted 11 Wildcat passes in the past seven meetings, while allowing the ‘Cats just six passing touchdowns.

Entering this week’s game, Nebraska ranks 12th in the Big 12 Conference in passing, averaging 101.8 yards per game. Kansas State is sixth in the league through the air at 207.5 yards per game. Quarterback Ell Roberson has completed 55 percent of his passes for 18 touchdowns, while throwing seven interceptions.

Scanning the Polls
The Huskers are ranked 15th in this week’s ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, up one spot from last week and are 18th in the AP poll, also a one-spot promotion. Nebraska is one of four Big 12 teams ranked this week, joining Oklahoma (1 AP/1 Coaches), Texas (6/7), and Kansas State (–/25). Meanwhile, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas Tech are receiving votes in the polls.

Nebraska found itself in an unfamiliar preseason position entering the 2003 season unranked in both major polls. The Huskers were just outside of the top 25 in both polls, marking the first time since 1969 that Nebraska entered a season unranked in the Associated Press poll. The Huskers took care of that unusual situation in just one week. NU’s 17-7 victory over Oklahoma State moved the Huskers into the polls, and the Huskers have stayed there for each of the past 11 AP polls.

The Huskers’ move back into the national polls came after an absence from the Associated Press weekly polls for 12 straight weeks. Nebraska has now been ranked in 533 of 548 AP polls since 1969 (all but one week in 1977, two weeks in 1981, the final 11 weeks of 2002 and this year’s preseason poll). Nebraska entered the AP top 10 at No. 10 before the loss at Missouri, marking NU’s first visit to the top 10 since before the Penn State game last season. Nebraska has now been ranked in the AP top 10 for at least one week in each of the last 34 seasons and 40 of the last 41 years.

Huskers, ‘Cats Among Nation’s Best in Recent Years
Nebraska is one of four Big 12 Conference teams that rank among the top 12 in the nation in best winning percentage since the start of the 1998 season. Since Frank Solich took over the Husker program, NU has posted a 57-18 record for a .760 winning percentage, the nation’s 12th-best mark in that stretch. Despite losses in each of the past two weeks, Miami leads the group, winning 85 percent of its games since 1998. Kansas State ranks seventh on the list with a 58-17 mark (.773) Oklahoma is tops among conference schools in fifth place, followed by Kansas State (7th), Texas (9th) and Nebraska (12th).

Blackshirts Taking Ball Away at Record Pace
Part of Nebraska’s struggles during a 7-7 campaign in 2002 were a result of finishing the season with a negative turnover margin. The Huskers forced 21 turnovers in 14 games last season, an average of 1.5 per contest. On the flip side, Nebraska committed 24 turnovers and finished the year a minus-three in turnover margin, one of just two seasons in the past 28 years Nebraska has had a negative turnover margin.

This season has been far different. NU has forced 39 turnovers in 10 games, an average of 3.9 per game. Nebraska leads the nation in takeaways and interceptions (24), setting the pace for a team that also leads the nation in turnover margin at +1.90 per game. The nation-leading turnover margin is keyed by a school-record eight takeaways in a 48-12 win over Texas A&M, while the offense did not commit a turnover in the contest.

  • The eight turnovers gained against Texas A&M tied the NU school record, most recently accomplished against Colorado State on Sept. 14, 1991.
  • Nebraska converted its eight turnovers into 35 points against A&M, including a pair of touchdowns on interception returns by Barrett Ruud (27 yards) and Titus Adams (3 yards). The Husker defense has scored 21 points of its own this season and converted the opponents’ 39 turnovers into 124 points, only one less point than the Nebraska defense has allowed all season. Nebraska scored 48 points off turnovers in 14 games in 2002.
  • Nebraska forced four turnovers in its 24-3 victory over Kansas on Saturday, the fifth time this season Nebraska has forced four or more turnovers in a game, and the Blackshirts have forced at least two turnovers in all 10 games. The last time the NU defense forced two turnovers in more consecutive games was a stretch of 17 straight games in 1990 and 1991, including all 12 games in 1990, and the first five games of the 1991 season. Entering the season, Nebraska had not forced five turnovers in a game for a span of 43 games since the 1999 campaign. This season, the Blackshirt defense has accomplished that feat three times.
  • The Texas A&M effort came after a 41-24 loss at Missouri, a game in which the Huskers committed five turnovers and were a minus-three in the turnover department. The Tigers converted NU’s miscues directly into 21 points. The Nebraska offense has committed 20 turnovers this season, but has committed just five in the past four games.
  • Nebraska’s 39 takeaways this season are the fifth-most in school history and the most since forcing 42 turnovers in 1981.The school record for turnovers gained in a season is 47 by the 1971 Nebraska defense, helping NU to a 13-0 record and a national championship.
  • NU has had at least one interception in all 10 games and two or more interceptions in seven straight games. Nebraska’s 24 picks this season are its most since 1971 and the third-most in school history, trailing only 30 in 1970 and 27 in 1971.
  • Nebraska’s 15 fumble recoveries this season match its total from the 2001 and 2002 seasons combined.

Among the individual stalwarts in the turnover department are...

  • Sophomore free safety Josh Bullocks has nine interceptions, an average of 0.90 per game to lead the nation in that cateogry. Bullocks’ nine interceptions are a Nebraska season record, surpassing the seven interceptions by Larry Wachholtz (1966), Dana Stephenson (1969) and Bill Kosch (1970). Last season Fabian Washington and DeJuan Groce tied for the season interception lead with four in 14 games. Nebraska has converted Bullocks’ interceptions into 35 points this season.
  • Senior Will linebacker Demorrio Williams has created headaches for the opposition all season, including recovering an NU linebacker-record four fumbles, while forcing two others. He had his first career interception at Missouri and blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Josh Bullocks against Iowa State.
  • Junior linebacker Barrett Ruud has three fumble recoveries, tying the previous NU season record for fumble recoveries by a linebacker. He returned a fumble 15 yards for a touchdown against Oklahoma State and his three fumble recoveries tie his father, Tom (1974), for the second most by a linebacker in school history, one behind Williams. Ruud has also forced at team-leading four fumbles this season, including one against Kansas. Ruud returned his first career interception 27 yards for a touchdown against Texas A&M.
  • Senior nose tackle Ryon Bingham has also recovered a pair of fumbles, both of which have been converted to touchdowns by the Husker offense.
  • Sophomore corner Fabian Washington has picked off three passes in 2003, and has seven picks in his career. He also recovered a fumble against Troy State.
  • Sophomore Titus Adams gives Nebraska four players with at least two fumble recoveries this season and capped Nebraska’s turnover bonanza against Texas A&M with a three-yard interception return for a touchdown. He added his second interception of the year against Texas.

Blackshirts Back Among Nation’s Best Defenses
Nebraska’s top defensive players had to wait until just a few days before the season opener to learn who would be given Blackshirts–the coveted practice jerseys worn by first-team Husker defenders. First-year coordinator Bo Pelini’s delay in awarding the Blackshirts did not faze his players, as Nebraska has played strong defense throughout the season. In addition to forcing turnovers at a record rate, Nebraska ranks among the nation’s best in several statistical categories. Here are a few notes regarding the performance of NU’s defense through 10 games...

  • NU ranks in the top 10 nationally in four of five major defensive categories, including leading the nation in passing efficiency defense with a rating of 80.47 points. The Huskers are eighth nationally in total defense at 279.5 yards per game, and are fourth in scoring defense at 12.5 points per game.
  • The Huskers held their first three opponents to 10 points or less for the first time since 1984. In that season, Nebraska finished the year No. 1 in the country in total defense (203.3 ypg) and scoring defense (9.5 ppg).
  • NU has forced 39 turnovers in 10 games, including a school-record eight against Texas A&M and five each against Oklahoma State and Southern Miss. NU did not force more than three turnovers in a game last season and just 21 total in 14 games in 2002. Nebraska’s +1.90 turnover margin ranks first in the nation, well ahead of West Virginia (+1.56).
  • Nebraska has limited six opponents to less than 100 yards rushing this season, including a season-low 44 yards on the ground by Penn State. The Nittany Lions rushed for 217 yards against Nebraska in 2002.
  • Nebraska’s defense has allowed just nine runs of 20 yards or longer this season. Nebraska did not allow a run of longer than 17 yards in the season’s first five games. Only 17 opponent pass plays have covered more than 20 yards.
  • Troy State’s 150 yards of total offense were the fewest NU has allowed since Baylor picked up just 84 in a 59-0 NU victory in October of 2000. That game was also NU’s most recent shutout before the 30-0 win over Troy State.
  • Nebraska has allowed just six points in the third quarter this season (FGs by A&M, Texas), and the Huskers hold a 95-6 scoring advantage in that period. By comparison, NU opponents outscored the Huskers 110-97 in the third quarter in 2002. The Blackshirts allowed just seven points in the second half through the first five games, before Missouri exploded for 27 fourth-quarter points in a 41-24 NU loss.
  • Nebraska has not allowed an offensive touchdown in four of its last six games, including shutouts of Troy State and Iowa State. Texas A&M reached the end zone on a kickoff return in the game’s waning minutes and Kansas managed only a field goal.
  • Nebraska has allowed just 22 drives to enter its red zone in 10 games, including only five in the season’s first five games. Nine of the drives that have reached Nebraska’s red zone have started inside the Nebraska 36-yard line, including all five by Missouri (three inside NU 10). Opponents have penetrated the red zone on just 13 of the other 128 drives against the Husker defense this season. Utah State, Troy State and Iowa State all failed to reach the red zone against NU’s defense. Southern Miss reached the NU red zone twice in the second half, marking the first second-half red zone trips by opponents this season. Missouri and Texas were a combined 8-of-10 in Nebraska’s red zone, while the other opponents are 7-of-12.
  • The Huskers allowed Oklahoma State just 183 yards of total offense, the fewest Nebraska had allowed in 24 games. Nebraska had not allowed fewer yards in a season opener since Iowa picked up just 169 yards of total offense in the 1999 opener in Iowa City (NU, 42-7). The Cowboys are averaging nearly 430 yards of total offense in nine games since.
  • Nebraska’s defense was nearly flawless after the first quarter in each of the first two games. Oklahoma State picked up 113 yards in the game’s first 18 minutes in the season opener, but managed just 70 yards of offense in the game’s final 42 minutes, including 57 in the second half. Utah State gained 145 yards in the first quarter, but had just 93 the remainder of the game, with 59 of those yards coming on the final possession of the game. Nebraska also stymied Texas A&M in the second half, allowing just 49 yards of total offense to the Aggies after halftime.

Pair of Shutouts Headline Huskers’ Home Defensive Dominance
Nebraska’s 28-0 whitewash of Iowa State added to an impressive resume for the 2003 defense. The shutout was NU’s second in four games, with the Huskers also blanking Troy State 30-0. This season marks the first time since 1999 that Nebraska has posted two shutouts in a season, and the Huskers have now posted six shutouts in Solich’s six seasons as head coach.

Troy State never seriously threatened to put points on the scoreboard in NU’s first shutout, and Iowa State’s only scoring threat was on its final possession of the game against reserves. The Huskers have not allowed an offensive touchdown in four of the last six games overall, as Texas A&M reached the end zone only on a kickoff return.

The shutout against Troy State was the first by NU since a 59-0 win over Baylor on Oct. 21, 2000, a span of 37 games. Troy State Coach Larry Blakeney left impressed after Nebraska’s shutout.

"We faced a very good defense, a defense to be reckoned with. They might be good enough to take that team to pretty good heights."

Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney echoed Blakeney’s thoughts on the Husker Blackshirts.

"They are tough, fundamentally sound, playing with confidence and going after the ball in an attacking style. It’s a defense that they should be really proud of."

The efforts against Troy State and Iowa State are an example of Nebraska’s dominance at home this fall.

  • Nebraska has allowed just 36 points in six home games this season (6.0 ppg). Included in that total is a pair of shutouts (Troy State, Iowa State), with only one opponent scoring more than 10 points at Memorial Stadium this season. Texas A&M scored 12 points in a 48-12 loss, but reached the end zone only on an 89-yard kickoff return with less than three minutes to play.
  • The Husker defense has not allowed a touchdown in the second half of a home game this season. Opponents have scored just three offensive touchdowns at Memorial Stadium this season, with Oklahoma State and Utah State’s TDs both coming in the first quarter and Penn State scoring after a Nebraska turnover early in the second quarter.
  • Husker opponents are averaging just 208.0 yards per game in six games at Memorial Stadium, and only one opponent has managed to rush for 100 yards (135, Texas A&M).

Williams Continues to Make Case to Butkus Award Committee
Nebraska senior Will linebacker Demorrio Williams is one of 11 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker. The list will be trimmed to three finalists later this week, and Williams made a strong final statement to voters with his performance in Nebraska’s 24-3 win over Kansas. He had a monster game that earned him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for a second time in 2003.

  • Williams established a new career high with 14 tackles at Kansas last week, and was all over the field against the Jayhawks. Williams had four tackles for loss at Kansas, including 1.5 sacks for 15 yards. He also recovered his fourth fumble of the season, had two quarterback hurries, one of which caused an interception, and added a pass breakup.
  • Williams’ effort at Kansas was his fourth double-figure tackle effort of the season, and bettered his previous career-high tackle total of 13 vs. Troy State. Williams had three straight double-figure tackle efforts against Southern Miss, Troy State and Missouri.
  • His fourth fumble recovery of the year at Kansas set a new Nebraska season record for linebackers. He contributed to NU’s record-setting takeaway day against Texas A&M with a fumble recovery and also covered opponent miscues against Utah State and Southern Miss.

The Beckville, Texas, native is second on the team with 97 tackles, including 62 solo stops. In addition to being selected as a Butkus semifinalist, Williams was also named to a pair of midseason All-America teams, earning recognition from both SI.com and CollegeFootballNews.com

Williams leads Nebraska with 14 tackles for loss (62 yards) and 8.0 sacks (55 yards) and his 12 quarterback hurries and four fumble recoveries are also team-leading totals. Three of Williams’ 12 hurries have directly led to Nebraska interceptions, including one against Kansas. Williams has also broken up four passes, forced a pair of fumbles and made his first career interception at Missouri.

Williams contributed a huge special teams play against Iowa State, blocking a first-quarter punt that was returned for a touchdown by Josh Bullocks. Against Texas, Williams returned a blocked field goal 16 yards and also tipped a pass that was intercepted by Nebraska’s Titus Adams in the second quarter.

Williams simply dominated the second quarter against Utah State, recording three sacks for 27 yards, forcing fumbles on two of the sacks. Nebraska converted the fumbles Williams caused into nine points in a 31-7 victory. Williams’ play against the Aggies earned him Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors. He has been Nebraska’s nominee for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week four times this season. Williams’ play has drawn rave reviews from both Husker opponents and the NU coaching staff.

"Whoa, that’s like having a safety at linebacker. He was in the backfield all the time. We had him blocked and he was quick enough to get around us and cause trouble." –Oklahoma State offensive guard Sam Mayes

"If you really want to know, I can still feel him. He was the best player out there today. I’ve never played against anyone like him before." –Utah State quarterback Travis Cox

"We don’t have an athlete like him. He’s a difference maker and those two turnovers he caused were a major, major, major difference in this game." –Utah State Head Coach Mick Dennehy

"He’s a special player. He has special talents. That left guard might be seeing him (Williams) in his sleep for a while."–Nebraska Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini after Oklahoma State game

Ruud Less Than Hospitable to Opponents
Junior linebacker Barrett Ruud joined Williams on the Butkus watch list this fall and although he didn’t make the semifinal cut, Ruud’s play has also been at an award-winning level throughout the season. The Lincoln native leads the team in tackles with 109, the most by a Husker in 20 seasons. Ruud has seven double-figure tackle games this season, including each of the last five games. He had a a career-high 17 tackles two weeks ago at Texas, and followed with 14 at Kansas, the second-highest total of his career.

Ruud has also been a key part of the Nebraska defense ranking first in the nation in turnover margin at +1.90 per game. Ruud has recovered three fumbles this season, second on the team behind Demorrio Williams. Ruud’s three fumble recoveries have resulted in 17 points, including a pair of touchdowns and a field goal. Ruud has also caused a team-high four fumbles this fall, most recently in the fourth quarter against Kansas.

Ruud has converted two opponent turnovers directly into touchdowns this season. In the season opener against Oklahoma State, Ruud returned a fumble 15 yards for a touchdown to give the Huskers the go-ahead points in a 17-7 victory. Against Texas A&M, Ruud made the most of his first career interception, returning it 27 yards for a touchdown to give NU a 20-3 first-quarter edge. Ruud is the first Husker defender since Julius Jackson in 1999 to score touchdowns on both fumble and interception returns.

The 6-2, 235-pound Ruud is quickly climbing the NU career tackle chart. His 14 tackles against Kansas pushed his career total to 249 tackles, good for ninth place on the Husker career tackle list. Ruud passed his father on the career list against A&M, as Tom recorded 202 tackles from 1972 to 1974.

  • Ruud moved from 13th to ninth on the career tackle list against Kansas, and in doing so passed All-Americans Wayne Meylan, Broderick Thomas and Trev Alberts on the chart.
  • Ruud is just 20 tackles from the top five on NU’s career tackles list and with another season to play stands 93 tackles behind NU’s all-time leading tackler Jerry Murtaugh (342, 1968-70).
  • With at least three games to play, Ruud is 32 tackles shy of Lee Kunz’s single-season record of 141 tackles, set in 1977.
  • Ruud’s 17-tackle effort at Texas was a career-high and the most tackles by a Husker since MIKE linebacker Jamie Burrow totaled 17 in Nebraska’s 20-10 win over Oklahoma in 2001.

Ruud’s performance this fall has not come as a surprise to NU coaches. Head Coach Frank Solich expected big things from the junior and pointed that out after the season opener.–"I thought leading up to this game that Barrett Ruud had a great fall camp. He is a great football player, and I think that showed in a lot of ways today."

Thorpe Semifinalist Bullocks is Nebraska’s and Nation’s Top Pass Thief
Sophomore free safety Josh Bullocks is challenging Williams and Ruud for headline-grabbing play this season, and gives NU three bona-fide All-America candidates on defense. Bullocks recorded his ninth interception of the season at Kansas, and leads the nation in both total interceptions and interceptions per game (0.90 per contest).

  • Bullocks’ nine interceptions are a new Husker season record, bettering the previous total of seven, held by three players. The record had stood for 33 years since Bill Kosch tied the mark with seven picks in 1970. Bullocks picked off a pair of passes in Nebraska’s season opener against Oklahoma State, and has since picked off a pass in seven of the last nine games, including four straight contests at one point (Southern Miss-Texas A&M).
  • Bullocks’ interceptions in four consecutive games tied a school record, matching the feat also accomplished by Troy Watchorn in 2000. Watchorn had interceptions in four straight games in the 2000 season (Iowa, Missouri, @ Iowa St., @ Texas Tech).
  • Bullocks now has 10 career interceptions to rank in a tie for seventh place on the Husker career list. Just a sophomore, he is just four interceptions away from Dana Stephenson’s NU career record of 14 interceptions.

The 6-0, 195-pound Bullocks has routinely earned praise from his own coaches this season, and has also picked up well-deserved national recognition. This past week, Bullocks was one of 12 players named as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive back. Bullocks is the only sophomore selected to the list. He also joined linebacker Demorrio Williams on SI.com’s Midseason All-America Team.In addition to his nine interceptions, Bullocks has 40 tackles and four pass breakups this fall.

In addition to his defensive prowess, Bullocks is also a key on NU’s special teams. Against Iowa State, Bullocks blocked a punt to set up NU’s first score, then returned the Huskers’ second blocked punt of the day (blocked by Demorrio Williams) 26 yards for a touchdown to give NU a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter. His play was rewarded as he was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week following the contest.

Bullocks’ twin brother, Daniel, is Nebraska’s starting strong safety and has also made a strong impression this fall. Daniel Bullocks is fourth on the team with 55 tackles, including 33 solo stops. He made 15 tackles at Texas, tying the most tackles by a Husker defensive back in five seasons, and nabbed his first career interception at Kansas.

Entire Defensive Unit Helping Dominate Opponents
The linebacking duo of Williams and Ruud, and Josh Bullocks’ record-setting interception season have grabbed many of the headlines, but NU’s defensive dominance has been a total team effort. Other top performances include...

  • Left cornerback Fabian Washington is only a sophomore, but has emerged as a leader in the Nebraska secondary. Washington ranks sixth on the team in tackles with 50 stops, including team-high efforts against Oklahoma State (11) and Penn State (9). Washington was a key in the NU defense that limited Oklahoma State All-America receiver Rashaun Woods to five catches for 47 yards, including two receptions for nine yards in the second half.
  • Washington had another superior effort against Penn State, finishing with nine tackles, his first interception of the season, a pair of pass breakups and two tackles for loss. Washington broke up two passes against Iowa State and now has 21 career pass breakups, tied for fifth on Nebraska’s career list. He added an interception and a fumble recovery in the shutout of Troy State, and picked off his seventh career pass against Texas A&M. Bo Pelini has been impressed with the work of NU’s left corner– "He was all over the place (against Oklahoma State). He’s a good football player, who really steps it up in live competition. It was no surprise to us the way he played. He’s a gamer."
  • Defensive Backs Coach Marvin Sanders echoed Pelini’s feelings on Washington after his standout performance against Penn State – "He’s showed he is a very special player. Fabian has been a very consistent player, and he is getting better every week. I think, right now, he’s definitely playing at an All-Big 12 level."
  • Senior linebacker T.J. Hollowell has teamed with Williams and Ruud to make the Husker linebacking corps a three-man wrecking force. Hollowell has made 62 tackles this season to rank third on the team, including eight each against Texas A&M and Kansas. The Husker linebackers combined for a season-high 36 tackles against Kansas, and as a group have posted 25 or more tackles eight times this season. Hollowell is also excellent in pass coverage. He ranks second on the team with seven pass breakups and had his first career interception vs. Iowa State. His seven pass breakups are just one shy of the NU school record for linebackers.
  • Senior defensive end Trevor Johnson was slowed with an injury in the preseason, but has stepped his game up in recent weeks. Johnson made a career-high 12 tackles against Iowa State, helping NU to its second shutout in four weeks. In the game, Johnson had a tackle for loss, two quarterback hurries, a pass breakup and a fumble caused against the Cyclones. Johnson has 54 total tackles this season, the most among Husker defensive linemen and fifth overall on the team. He is tied for third on the team with seven tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks, and his TFL against ISU gave him 20 career tackles for loss. He also blocked a field goal against Texas.

Larson Keys Husker Punting Team
Nebraska’s special teams have a tradition of being exactly that–"special." Senior punter Kyle Larson is doing his part to continue that tradition this fall. Larson is in his third season as a starter for the Huskers, and for the third straight season has been one of the nation’s top punters. A 2002 Ray Guy Award semifinalists, Larson is a strong contender to capture that award this fall, and is making a strong push for All-America honors.

The highlights of Larson’s 2003 season include...

  • Larson averaged 54.4 yards on his eight punts at Texas, including a career-long 80-yard punt on the final play of the first quarter. All eight of Larson’s punts traveled 44 yards or more, including five that topped 50 yards.
  • Against Texas A&M,Larson punted nine times and averaged 49.6 yards. He pinned A&M inside its own 20 four times in the game, and seven of Larson’s nine punts were 45 yards or longer, while the two that were not were both downed inside the Aggie 20.
  • Against Southern Mississippi, Larson averaged 47.6 yards on seven punts, including boots of 63 and 67 yards. His effort against the Golden Eagles earned him Big 12 Special Teams Player-of-the-Week honors, marking the third time in his career Larson has captured that award.

For the season, Larson is averaging 45.2 yards per punt to rank seventh nationally, helping the Huskers to a No. 9 national ranking in net punting at 40.5 yards per attempt. Larson is currently on pace to break the NU single-season punting average record currently held by Dan Hadenfeldt who averaged 44.98 yards per punt in 1999.

Larson has helped Nebraska in field position with 35 percent (17-of-49) of his punts leaving the opposition inside its own 20 yard-line. Larson has uncorked six punts of 63 yards or longer in the past seven weeks. He has 14 punts this season of 50 yards or longer. Larson’s recent surge has pushed his career punting average to 43.55 yards, good for second on the NU career list, behind only his predecessor Hadenfeldt (1999-2000).

Larson averaged 43.2 yards per punt last season and keyed a Husker punting unit that ranked second in the Big 12 and fifth nationally in net punting. The Funk, Neb., native had 21 punts of 50 yards or longer last season and pinned the opposition inside its own 20 on 23 occasions. Larson was a second-team All-Big 12 selection by the league’s coaches last season and was one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award.

Nebraska Head Coach Frank Solich lauded Larson’s effort following the Texas A&M contest. "I don’t know if there is a better punter around. There might be in terms of average, but when the pressure is on and you need a kick, he steps up and does it."

Senior Quarterback Lord Continuing Move in NU Record Books

Nebraska senior quarterback Jammal Lord made a large dent in the Husker record book a year ago and continues to do so in 2003. The Bayonne, N.J., native set NU game and season records for total offense and rushing yards by a quarterback in 2002. Lord finished the season with 1,412 rushing yards, the third-most ever by a Division I-A quarterback and amassed 2,774 yards of total offense. In the process, he also became one of only 19 Division I-A players to both rush and pass for more than 1,000 yards in the same season. He was the third Husker signal caller in six seasons to reach that plateau, joining Scott Frost (1997) and Eric Crouch (2001).

In addition, Lord was Nebraska’s most consistent big-play threat a year ago. He had a hand in a remarkable 41 plays of 20 yards or more in 2002, including 21 runs and 20 passes. Despite his gaudy numbers last season, the 6-2, 220-pound Lord worked hard in the off-season to become a more efficient quarterback in 2003, most notably through the air. Last season Lord completed just under 47 percent of his passes and threw for 12 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

The off-season work has produced results for Lord, who has completed 53 percent of his passes this season. He has thrown for four touchdowns and been picked off six times.

  • Lord has five 100-yard passing games this season, including a season-high 146 yards at Missouri, when he completed 12-of-18 passes, including a 55-yard touchdown pass to Mark LeFlore. His 146 yards passing at Missouri were just five yards short of his career-best 151 yards last season against McNeese State and tied the most accurate passing effort of Lord’s career (also 12-of-18 vs. McNeese State, 2002).
  • All four of Lord’s touchdown passes have been from long distance. He connected on scoring strikes of 44 and 43 yards at Southern Mississippi, hit LeFlore for the 55-yarder at Missouri and connected with Matt Herian on a 48-yard TD strike at Texas.

Lord continues to be NU’s leading rusher, despite being keyed on by opposing defenses. Lord has rushed for 713 yards on 163 carries and scored nine touchdowns this season, bettering his total of eight in 2002. Lord has scored at least one rushing touchdown in seven of Nebraska’s last nine games.

  • Lord has posted three 100-yard rushing days this season and eight in his career. He rushed for a season-high 111 yards at Missouri, and also topped the century mark against Texas A&M (109) and Penn State (100). Only 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch (17) has more career 100-yard rushing games than Lord from the quarterback position.

Lord passed two milestones in his 257-yard total offense performance at Missouri. He became the ninth Husker to pass 4,000 yards of career total offense early in the first quarter and later in the game became the 22nd Husker and third NU quarterback to reach 2,000 career rushing yards. Lord now has 4,782 yards of total offense to rank sixth in Nebraska history. Lord is well within striking distance of the top five on the career list. He has 2,338 career rushing yards, 15th on the NU career list and second among quarterbacks. Against Texas, Lord moved into the top 10 on the NU career passing list and now has 2,444 yards through the air.

Controlling the Clock a Key to Huskers’ Fortunes
The Huskers have been at their best this season when they have been able to use a power running game to control the time of possession battle. The Huskers have controlled the clock for much of the year, averaging 32:23 of time of possession, nearly five minutes more than its opponents.

  • Against Penn State, Nebraska’s advantage was 19:30 (39:45-20:15). The Huskers’ 8:12 drive to open the third quarter represented more possession time than the Nittany Lions had in the entire second half (7:33). The 19 1/2-minute time of possession advantage against Penn State was Nebraska’s greatest since Nebraska held the ball for 39:47 in a 41-0 shutout against Kansas in 1998.
  • Nebraska has held a time of possession advantage in six of 10 games this season, with only Southern Miss, Troy State, Texas and Kansas controlling the ball for more than 30 minutes against NU this season. Much of the advantage for Southern Miss, Troy State and Kansas was late in the game.
  • Texas dominated the line of scrimmage in a 31-7 win over Nebraska, running 78 plays to just 55 for the Huskers and controlling the ball for 33:16. Missouri matched NU’s total snaps (73) in its 41-24 victory over the Huskers in Columbia.

Nebraska Looks to Make Most of Red Zone Opportunities
The Husker offense has struggled at times this season to cross the goal line once it has moved inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, scoring 18 touchdowns in 41 red zone opportunities, with another 11 of those drives ending in field goals. While Nebraska’s ability to finish drives with touchdowns has been a concern, the offense’s ability to march into the red zone this season has been a drastic improvement from 2002.

This season, NU is averaging 4.1 trips per game into the red zone, while last year Nebraska moved inside the 20 just 43 times in 14 games, or an average of 3.1 trips per outing. On the flip side, NU opponents have moved inside the Husker 20 just 22 times, after averaging 3.4 red zone opportunities in 2002.

Huskers Winning Field Position Battle
Strong special teams and outstanding defense have helped Nebraska to a huge advantage in field position this season. Field position is one of the leading indicators of Nebraska’s success this season. The Huskers have had an advantage in starting field position in each of their eight victories, including seven double-figure advantages. On the other hand, Missouri and Texas both used double-figure edges in starting position to key wins over Nebraska.

  • Through 10 games, Nebraska holds nearly a 10-yard advantage in starting field position, beginning its average drive on its own 38.8, while opponents have started on average at their own 29.1.
  • The Huskers had double-figure advantages in starting field position in each of their first seven victories, including a season-best 25.4-yard edge in a 28-0 win over Iowa State. NU’s average starting field position against Iowa State was its own 47.9-yard line, while Iowa State was backed up to its own 22.4 for its average drive start.
  • Against Iowa State, Nebraska started eight drives on Iowa State’s side of the field, while beginning just two inside its own 20. Iowa State did not begin on Nebraska’s side of the field all day. In the first half of the shutout victory, the Huskers snapped the ball seven times in their own territory, while initiating 20 plays in Cyclone territory.
  • Nebraska has started eight drives inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, while beginning just 22 inside its own 20. Opponents have started 27 drives inside their own 20 and only 14 in Nebraska territory.
  • The tables were turned on Nebraska at Missouri and Texas. The Tigers held a 13-yard advantage in starting field position, while Texas had a 14.8-yard advantage in starting field position.
  • Nebraska has a 1,243-yard advantage in cumulative starting field position, an average of nearly 125 yards per game in field position differential.
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