Huskers Return Home to Host Bears

By NU Athletic Communications
Nebraska hosts Baylor on Saturday and the Huskers play three of their final five games at Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska hosts Baylor on Saturday and the Huskers play three of their final five games at Memorial Stadium.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

After two weeks on the road, Nebraska returns home to Lincoln this weekend for a matchup against Baylor. Kickoff in front of the 295th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium is set for 11:37 a.m. with Versus televising the game nationally. The Huskers are coming off a 35-7 win at Iowa State last Saturday, allowing the Huskers to end a three-game losing streak and improve to 4-3 overall on the season. Nebraska will look to even its Big 12 record at 2-2 against the Bears. Baylor is 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in Big 12 action, following a 34-6 loss at No. 8 Oklahoma State last weekend.

The Series
Nebraska and Baylor meet for the first time since 2005 and Saturday’s meeting is just the 11th all-time matchup between the schools. The Huskers hold a 9-1 edge in the series, including wins in each of the last eight meetings. Baylor’s lone victory in the series was a 26-7 win in Lincoln in 1956. Nebraska holds a 6-1 edge over the Bears at Memorial Stadium, including four shutout victories.

The Coaches
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, 90) is in his first season with the Huskers. Pelini owns a 5-3 career record. In addition to four 2008 wins, 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.

Baylor: Art Briles (Texas Tech, 79) is in his first season as Baylor’s head coach and his sixth season overall as a head coach. Briles is 3-4 with the Bears and 37-32 overall as a collegiate head coach. Prior to taking over at Baylor he was the head coach at Houston for five seasons and led the Cougars to four bowl games. Briles was an assistant at Texas Tech for three seasons (2000-02), and previously was a highly successful prep coach in the Lone Star State.

Nebraska Looks to Continue Domination of Baylor in Lincoln
Nebraska owns a 9-1 all-time edge in the series against Baylor, including a 6-1 advantage in games played at Memorial Stadium. A closer inspection of the series indicates Nebraska has been dominant against the Bears in Lincoln.

  • In six Nebraska victories over Baylor in Lincoln, Nebraska has outscored the Bears by a cumulative score of 231-37, or an average of 38.5-6.2.
  • Nebraska has posted four shutouts against Baylor in Lincoln, including three straight meetings in 1990, 1996 and 2000.
  • All six of Nebraska’s victories over Baylor in Lincoln have been by at least 13 points, while all 10 of the series meetings have been decided by at least nine points.

Husker Offense Looking to Continue Recent Surge
Nebraska has been impressive on offense throughout the 2008 campaign, but has hit its stride over the past two games. Nebraska ranks 12th nationally in passing offense at 291.43 yards per game and is 18th in the nation in total offense, averaging 438.9 yards. Nebraska also ranks 27th nationally in scoring offense at 33.3 points per game.

The success of the offense comes on the heels of an explosive offensive campaign in 2007. 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.

Nebraska boasts impressive numbers over the past several games dating back to last season.

  • Nebraska has gained 400 total yards or more in nine of the past 12 games.
  • The Huskers have passed for at least 200 yards in the past 12 games, with seven 300-yard games in that stretch.
  • The Huskers are averaging 486.8 yards per game over their past 10 games, including 344.7 yards per game through the air. Nebraska is averaging 39.6 points over its past 10 games and has scored at least 30 points in nine of 10 games dating back to last season.
  • 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. Nebraska has produced two 500-yard total offense games in 2008.

Husker Offense Controlling Clock, Keeping Opponent "O" on Sideline
The Nebraska offense put together two impressive efforts in road games at Texas Tech and Iowa State. The Huskers churned out 471 and 548 yards of total offense, respectively, in their first two road trips of the season, but most impressive has been NU’s ability to control the clock.

Nebraska amassed 40:12 in time of possession against Texas Tech to keep the Red Raiders’ high-powered offense on the sideline. NU continued to control the clock at Iowa State, with a 37:11-22:49 advantage in time of possession. Nebraska has run 158 plays in the last two weeks, while opponents have snapped the ball just 102 times.

  • Nebraska’s 40:12 time of possession against Texas Tech was its highest possession time since having the ball for 40:38 in the season opener against Nevada last season. It also marked Nebraska’s highest possession time on the road since at least 1980, and Nebraska’s largest possession advantage against a conference opponent since holding the ball for 42:50 against Colorado in 1992. Nebraska has held the ball for 40 minutes or longer just four times since 1980.
  • NU has held the time of possession advantage in six consecutive halves and has had at least 16:30 in time of possession in the past five halves dating back to the second half of the Missouri game.
  • Nebraska has had seven scoring drives of 4:00 or longer in the past two games, including four against Texas Tech and three at Iowa State. The Huskers had first-half scoring drives against Iowa State of 92, 85 and 71 yards that consumed 4:32, 5:25 and 5:14, respectively on the clock.
  • Nebraska’s average scoring drive the past two weeks (10 total) has been 10.2 plays, 73.6 yards and 5:32.
  • The Huskers’ 15-play scoring drive that consumed 8:03 of the first half at Texas Tech marked the Huskers’ longest scoring drive of the season in terms of both time and plays. The Huskers last had a longer scoring drive in terms of plays against Oklahoma in 2005. The last time an NU scoring drive took longer than 8:03 was against Penn State in 2003, when the Huskers used 8:12 on a touchdown drive.
  • The Texas Tech game marked the only time since 1980 Nebraska had three scoring drives in a game that each consumed at least 7:00. In fact, only once in the past 29 seasons has Nebraska had two 7:00-plus scoring drives in a game (2005 at Baylor). Scoring drive and time of possession statistics are sketchy prior to the 1980 season.
  • Nebraska had not had three scoring drives of at least 10 plays in the same game since four 10-plus play drives in a 73-31 win over Kansas State last season.
  • The 92-yard scoring drive in the first quarter against Iowa State was Nebraska’s longest in distance since a 94-yard TD drive against Nevada in the 2007 season opener.

Husker Offense Also Has Quick-Strike Ability
Nebraska has also shown the ability to put points on the scoreboard quickly. NU has produced 10 touchdown drives that have lasted 2:00 or less, and nine touchdown drives of five plays or less.

In the season opener against Western Michigan, Nebraska’s five touchdown drives 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. Against the Broncos, 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.

Quarterback Joe Ganz has directed the Husker offense to nine touchdown drives under one minute in the last eight games. Overall, the senior has guided the offense to 12 touchdown drives under one minute in his 10 career starts.

"Joe the Quarterback"
Senior quarterback Joe Ganz has been the man directing the Husker offense over the past 10 games. 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 outstanding since taking over the quarterback role.

In his first 10 starts, Ganz has thrown for more than 3,000 yards while helping Nebraska average nearly 40 points per game.

Among his accomplishments over his first 10 career starts, Ganz has:

  • Thrown for 3,366 yards, a total that by itself would rank as the sixth-highest career passing total in school history. The 3,366 yards are also a Nebraska quarterback record for most passing yards in a 10-game stretch, easily eclipsing the previous mark of 2,412 yards set by Zac Taylor over the final five games of the 2005 season and the first five games of the 2006 campaign.
  • Thrown for 27 touchdowns, which is one more than Zac Taylor’s school-record 26 touchdown strikes in 14 games in 2006.
  • Accumulated a school-record six 300-yard passing games, three more than previous record holder Zac Taylor totaled in 26 career starts. Ganz has thrown for at least 275 yards in eight of 10 career starts.
  • 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. Ganz owns five of the top 10 passing days in school history.
  • Directed the Husker offense to an average of 39.6 points per game. Ganz’s average is the fifth-best total among all quarterbacks in school history over their first 10 starts, trailing only Scott Frost (46.8 points per game), Tommie Frazier (41.8), Turner Gill (41.2) and Steve Taylor (39.9).
  • Led NU to at least 30 points nine times. No other quarterback in Nebraska history helped his team score at least 30 points nine times in his first 10 career starts. Frost, Gill and Taylor each accomplished the feat eight times.

Ascension in NU Record Book Continues for Ganz
Overall, Ganz has passed for 3,524 yards in his career, the fifth-highest total in school history. He has thrown for a career-high 1,967 yards this season and needs just 108 yards to move up to fourth place on the NU single-season passing chart. Ganz is also within reach of Zac Taylor’s school-record season total of 3,197 yards, as Ganz is currently on pace to throw for 3,372 yards in the regular season.

Ganz showed that his finish to 2007 was not a fluke in the season opener against Western Michigan and he has continued his torrid play throughout 2008.

  • The 345 yards passing against the Broncos were the most ever in a Nebraska season opener and rank No. 10 on the Husker single-game passing list. Ganz had his most accurate passing day at Texas Tech, hitting 36-of-44 passes for 349 yards, the ninth-best passing day in school history.
  • The 36 completions at Texas Tech tied a Nebraska school record. Ganz’s previouis high in completions was 31 at Colorado last season.
  • Ganz has connected on 90-of-120 passes the past three weeks (75.0 percent) and his 70.1 completion percentage in 2008 is well ahead of the NU record of 63.1 percent, set by Sam Keller last season.
  • Ganz has 31 passes of 20 yards or more in 2008, and the Huskers have had at least seven receivers catch passes in all seven games. Nebraska has completed passes to 16 receivers,
  • Ganz had at least four touchdown passes in each of his first four starts with 19 total in the four-game period. His 19 TD passes were the most ever by a Nebraska quarterback in a four-game stretch.
  • Ganz’s 31 career touchdown passes are seventh on the Nebraska career list. He is three touchdown passes from fourth on the Husker career list.

Swift Enjoying Standout Senior Season; Closing in on Receiving Record
Wide receiver Nate Swift has been a key component in the Husker passing game since 2005, and he and fellow senior Todd Peterson have been Joe Ganz’s favorite targets in 2008. Arguably Nebraska’s most experienced player, Swift has played in 45 games with 23 career starts. Through seven games, Swift is second on the team with 33 catches for a team-high 486 yards, an average of 14.7 yards per catch. He also leads the team with four touchdown receptions.

Swift is coming off an impressive performance at Iowa State, when he grabbed a season-high eight catches for 112 yards, all in the first half. The 100-yard game was the sixth of Swift’s career, the second-highest total of 100-yard games in Nebraska history. He passed Irving Fryar on that list against ISU and only Johnny Rodgers’ 10 career 100-yard games stands in front of Swift.

The Minnesota native opened his senior year with five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Western Michigan. It was the fourth time in his career Swift has caught a pair of touchdown passes. Swift had a career-long 61-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter against Western Michigan, bettering a 49-yard reception against Troy in 2006. He added a two-yard TD reception late in the second quarter.


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