Nebraska (1-0) vs. Wake Forest (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005 (6:10 p.m.)
Memorial Stadium: Tom Osborne Field (FieldTurf, 2005)
NCAA Record 270th Consecutive Sellout (Capacity, 73,918)
Nebraska Radio: Jim Rose (PBP), Adrian Fiala (Color), Randy Lee (Booth), Matt Davison (Sideline)
55-station Pinnacle Sports Network
TV: TBS National (Ron Thulin-Play-by-Play; Charles Davis-Color; Craig Sager-Sidelines)
Internet: Live Radio/Live Stats on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio: Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 125
Special Presentation: Jake Young Memorial Scholarship Presented to Kurt Mann
Huskers Set for Second Straight Week Under Memorial Stadium Lights
Nebraska will play host to a primetime contest at Memorial Stadium for a second consecutive week, taking on Wake Forest in a 6:10 p.m. contest in Lincoln on Saturday night. The Huskers were successful in their season opener, using a stout defensive effort to post a 25-7 victory over Maine, marking Nebraska’s 20th consecutive victory in a season opener.
Wake Forest will come to Lincoln with an 0-1 record, after dropping its season opener against Vanderbilt, 24-20, last Thursday in Winston-Salem, N.C. Despite the setback, the Demon Deacons showed their offensive ability in the contest, rolling up 472 yards of total offense behind a powerful rushing attack. The close loss in the season opener has a flashback to the 2004 campaign for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons finished the season with a 4-7 record, but six of their seven losses were by a touchdown or less, including two overtime setbacks.
The Huskers relied on an outstanding effort by the Blackshirts and a strong punt return game to offset five turnovers in their season-opening victory over Maine. The Husker defense limited Maine to minus-six yards rushing on the strength of a school-record 11 sacks that totaled 69 yards in losses. In the punt return game, Nebraska returned 10 punts for 198 yards, a total that bettered Nebraska’s punt return yardage for the entire 2004 season.
The matchup with Wake Forest will be the second meeting between the two schools, and a rare matchup for Nebraska with the Atlantic Coast Conference. The last time Nebraska played a regular-season game against a member of the ACC at game time was a 1973 matchup with North Carolina State.
Saturday night’s contest will be nationally televised by TBS, with kickoff set for 6:10 p.m.
Blackshirt Barrage Buries Maine Offense
Nebraska battled its way to the Huskers’ 20th consecutive season-opening victory in front of the NCAA-record 269th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium with a 25-7 win over Maine on Saturday night. In a game that featured one of the top-five receiving performances in Nebraska history, the Nebraska Blackshirt defense and Husker special teams stole the show in a hard-fought team victory.
Nebraska’s Blackshirt defense, which featured four first-time starters, surrendered only a 52-yard scoring pass with just under 12 minutes left in the game to end the Huskers’ hopes for a shutout. The Blackshirts’ assault on the Black Bear offense included a school-record tying 18 tackles for loss, including a school-record tying 11 sacks.
First-time starter MIKE linebacker Corey McKeon, recorded three tackles for loss among his team-leading 10 tackles, while returning starters Le Kevin Smith, Stewart Bradley and Adam Carriker each posted two sacks. Sophomore linebacker Bo Ruud also made a major impact in the game. Ruud recovered a fumble early in the fourth quarter and picked off a Ron Whitcomb pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to seal the Husker victory with 9:58 left in the game.
While the defense shut down Maine for most of the night, the Husker special teams shined to help the offense. Sophomore Terrence Nunn ripped off a pair of long punt returns with sprints of 62 and 45 yards to help the Huskers find the scoreboard in the first half. He finished the night with four returns for 135 yards. Cortney Grixby added five returns for 61 yards to push NU’s team punt return total to 198 yards on the night, just 10 yards shy of the school record team punt return total. In 2004, Nebraska’s punt return team managed just 181 yards on 31 returns for the entire season.
Junior quarterback Zac Taylor completed 15-of-36 passes for 192 yards, including seven catches for 152 yards by sophomore wide receiver Frantz Hardy, his former Butler County (Kan.) Community College teammate. Hardy’s 152 receiving yards ranked as the fourth-highest total in school history and marked the highest single-game receiving effort since Matt Davison set the school record with 167 yards against Texas A&M in 1998.
Despite a big opening night from Hardy, the Husker offense was hampered by five turnovers and Maine’s defense was successful in keeping the Huskers out of the end zone for most of the night. Nebraska received four field goals from true freshman Jordan Congdon and a one-yard scoring plunge from senior I-back Cory Ross to produce the final margin. Ross finished the night with 20 carries for 80 yards.
After playing a scoreless opening 24 minutes against the Black Bears, Congdon, who tied the school freshman record with four field goals, finally put the Huskers on the board with a 23-yard field goal with 5:21 remaining in the first half. Nebraska’s opening score of the 2005 season was set up by a 73-yard pass from Taylor to Hardy. Nunn’s 62-yard punt return to the Maine 1 set up Ross’ scoring run and gave NU a 9-0 advantage heading to the locker room. Congdon added two third-quarter field goals to give Nebraska a 15-point advantage before the Black Bears’ threw a scare into Nebraska with a 52-yard scoring play early in the fourth. However, Ruud’s interception for a touchdown ended any hopes of an upset and secured the Nebraska victory.
Noting Game One...Nebraska 25, Maine 7
- The win over Maine marked the Huskers’ 20th-straight win in a season opener, dating back to a 17-13 loss to Florida State in 1985. Since that loss, the Huskers have won each of the last 20 season openers by 10 points or more.
- Nebraska finished with a school-record 11 sacks for 69 yards in losses, tying the mark set against Oregon State on Sept. 30, 1989.
- Nebraska’s 18 tackles for loss matched the Huskers’ total from a 17-3 homecoming victory over Iowa State on Nov. 8, 1969.
- Eight Huskers made their first career starts. On offense the first-time starters were left tackle Cornealius Fuamatu-Thomas, left guard Greg Austin, wide receiver Frantz Hardy and quarterback Zac Taylor. On defense, the first-time starters were MIKE linebacker Corey McKeon, WILL linebacker Steve Octavien, and free safety Blake Tiedtke. True freshman place-kicker Jordan Congdon also drew a start in his first career collegiate game. In addition, cornerback Tierre Green started his first game on defense, after switching from I-back last spring.
- Among the Huskers making their debuts on Saturday night were nine true freshmen, including PK Jordan Congdon, DE Barry Turner, LB Phillip Dillard, DE Zach Potter, S Jeff Souder, OT Matt Slauson, IB Marlon Lucky, WR Chris Brooks and DT Ndamukong Suh.
- The 73-yard pass play from Zac Taylor to Frantz Hardy in the second quarter was the longest pass play for Nebraska since a 74-yard pass from Joe Dailey to Cory Ross in last year’s win over Baylor.
- Hardy had seven receptions for 152 yards against Maine, including five for 134 yards before halftime. Hardy’s 152 receiving yards were the fourth-most in school history, the most by a Husker in seven seasons, the most ever by a Husker in his first game in a Nebraska uniform and the most ever by an NU player in a season opener.
- Sophomore Terrence Nunn had a 62-yard punt return on the first punt return attempt of his career, which marked the longest punt return for a Husker since DeJuan Groce had an 89-yard return for a touchdown in a 24-13 win over Missouri in 2002. Nunn added a 45-yard punt return on his second career punt return and his 135 return yards nearly doubled Nebraska’s team leader from 2004, Santino Panico, who finished the season with 68 punt return yards.
- As a team, Nebraska had 10 punt returns for 198 yards vs. Maine. In addition to Nunn’s 135 yards, sophomore Cortney Grixby had five returns for 61 yards. By comparison, Nebraska had 31 punt return attempts for a total of 181 yards all of last season.
- Tierre Green’s 43-yard return to open the second half was a career-long return.
- In 2004, Nebraska had three punt or kickoff returns of 40 yards or more. The Huskers matched that total with three 40-plus-yard returns against Maine.
- The 27-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bo Ruud was his first career interception and touchdown. Ruud’s touchdown was Nebraska’s first interception for a touchdown since the Huskers returned two interceptions for a touchdown against Texas A&M on Oct. 18, 2003. Titus Adams and Bo’s brother, Barrett, returned interceptions for touchdowns in the 48-12 win over the Aggies.
- Bo Ruud also recovered a fumble and finished the game with five tackles, including a shared sack, and also had a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
- Nebraska limited Maine to minus-6 yards rushing, marking the 14th-best mark in school history and the fewest since holding Troy State to minus-25 on Sept. 1, 2001. It also marked the second straight season Nebraska has allowed negative rushing yards in the season opener.
- Three Huskers had their first career receptions against Maine, including Hardy, redshirt freshman tight end Clayton Sievers and sophomore tight end J.B. Phillips.
- Senior I-back Cory Ross rushed 20 times for 80 yards and a touchdown, pushing his career rushing total to 1,941 yards.
- Nebraska finished the game without a penalty, marking the first time Nebraska had not been flagged since an Oct. 18, 1997 game against Texas Tech.
- The scoreless first quarter against Maine marked the first time the first quarter has been scoreless in any Nebraska game since NU and Penn State were scoreless after the first quarter of a 2002 game in Happy Valley. Penn State went on to win the game 40-7.The scoreless first quarter in a season opener was the first since a 0-0 tie after the first quarter in the 1999 opener at Iowa. Nebraska led 7-0 at the half vs. the Hawkeyes en route to a 42-7 win.