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Huskers Prepare for Panthers

By NU Athletic Communications
Nebraska turns its focus to this Saturday's showdown with Pittsburgh at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:36 p.m. on ABC.
Nebraska turns its focus to this Saturday's showdown with Pittsburgh at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:36 p.m. on ABC.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska (2-0)
vs. Pittsburgh (0-2)

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2005 (2:36 p.m.) 
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb. (73,918)
Tom Osborne Field (FieldTurf, 2005)
271st Consecutive Sellout

Nebraska Radio: 55-Station Pinnacle Sports Network
(Jim Rose, Adrian Fiala, Randy Lee, Matt Davison)
Satellite Radio: Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 141
TV: ABC Regional
Brent Musburger, Gary Danielson, Jack Arute)
Internet: Live Radio on Huskers.com
Special Events: Red Cross Appreciation Day

Nebraska Looks to Continue Season-Opening Momentum vs. Pitt
Fresh off two dominant defensive efforts, Nebraska will look to complete non-conference play unbeaten this Saturday when the Huskers play host to defending Big East Conference champion Pittsburgh at Memorial Stadium. The game will kickoff at 2:36 p.m. and will be televised to a regional audience by ABC, with Brent Musburger, Gary Danielson and Jack Arute on the call.

Nebraska is off to a 2-0 start thanks in large part to a tenacious Blackshirt defense. After recording school records for sacks and tackles for loss in the opener against Maine, the Husker defense continued its assault on the record books last week against Wake Forest. The Blackshirts set a school record with three defensive touchdowns, including two in the first quarter to set the tone for a 31-3 victory over the Demon Deacons.

The Panthers come to Lincoln with an 0-2 record, after a 16-10 overtime loss at Ohio last Friday night. Pittsburgh’s defense was stout in the game, but fell victim to a pair of Ohio defensive touchdowns. The Panthers opened the season with a home loss against Notre Dame. Pitt will be looking to regain the momentum from last season when the Panthers finished 8-4 and represented the Big East in the Bowl Championship Series.

This marks the second straight season the teams have hooked up on the gridiron after the Huskers won 24-17 at Heinz Field a year ago. The schools have met a total of 23 times, but Pitt has not traveled to Lincoln since 1958.

Blackshirt Defense Gets Offensive in Win over Wake Forest
The Nebraska Blackshirts scored three touchdowns and forced four Wake Forest turnovers to power the Huskers to a 31-3 victory over the Demon Deacons in front of the NCAA-record 270th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. The Husker defense fueled Nebraska to a 2-0 start by not only slowing Wake Forest’s potent running game, but by providing plenty of offensive punch.

Sophomore linebacker Corey McKeon opened the Blackshirts’ onslaught by intercepting a Benjamin Mauk pass and racing 38 yards to paydirt to give the Huskers a 7-0 lead with 6:24 remaining in the first quarter. McKeon went on to a big night, finishing with 10 total tackles including two for a loss of 11 yards. Less than four minutes later, senior strong safety Daniel Bullocks, who led the defense with 13 total tackles, gave the Blackshirts their third touchdown in two quarters by forcing a fumble by Demon Deacon running back Micah Andrews and racing 30 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Huskers a 14-0 lead. The two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter represented the first time in school history that Nebraska had produced a pair of defensive scores in the same quarter.

In the fourth quarter, linebacker Stewart Bradley intercepted another Mauk pass and raced 43 yards into the end zone with 10:23 left in the game to produce the final margin. The Blackshirts’ history-making performance stretched the NU record book. It was the fifth time in school history that the Huskers had scored twice in the same game on interception returns, most recently against Texas A&M in 2003. The Blackshirts’ scoring barrage also marked the first time in school history that the defense had scored three return touchdowns in a game. The Blackshirts have returned three interceptions for touchdowns in their first two games of 2005, providing a serious threat to the school record of five interception returns for touchdowns in the Huskers’ national championship seasons of 1971 and 1995.

Senior free safety Blake Tiedtke forced a fourth Wake Forest turnover with his first interception on the Demon Deacons’ opening possession of the second quarter. Tiedtke raced 28 yards on the return to give the Huskers 139 yards in defensive returns on the night.

While the Blackshirts owned the first half, the Husker offense came alive on the opening drive of the second half. Senior I-back Cory Ross ran into the Nebraska record book by sprinting 57 yards down the sideline to the Wake Forest 9 to go over 100 yards on the night and 2,000 yards in his career. Ross finished the night with 20 carries for 123 yards for his 10th career 100-yard game. Quarterback Zac Taylor capped the drive by hooking up with sophomore wide receiver Frantz Hardy on a four-yard touchdown that pushed the Huskers’ lead to 21-3.

Taylor continued to heat up in the third quarter, completing six consecutive passes to four different receivers, including two each to Hardy and Grant Mulkey, who made a highlight-reel 25-yard grab to spark the Husker march. NU’s drive stalled at the Wake Forest 4 with a pair of incompletions, but Jordan Congdon increased Nebraska’s lead to 24-3 with a 21-yard field goal with 1:41 left in the third quarter. The Huskers thoroughly controlled the third quarter, piling up 160 yards of total offense while owning the ball for 8:38 to carry their 24-3 lead into the fourth quarter, before Bradley produced the final margin with his fourth quarter interception return.

Wake Forest place-kicker Sam Swank provided the lone highlight for the Demon Deacons with his 51-yard field goal in the final second of the first half. The game marked the first time since Nov. 11, 2000 that Wake Forest went without scoring a touchdown in a game.

Playing against his former team, Taylor finished the night by completing 14 of 33 pass attempts for a total of 114 yards. The Huskers put up 234 total yards of offense on the Demon Deacons, who recorded 247 yards of total offense.

Noting Game One...Nebraska 31, Wake Forest 3

  • Nebraska’s three defensive touchdowns set a school record and the Huskers’ two defensive scores in the first quarter marked the first time in school history NU had two defensive TDs in a quarter. The two interception returns for touchdowns tied a school record set on four previous occasions, most recently vs. Texas A&M in 2003. The 2003 game against the Aggies was also the most recent two-TD effort by the Blackshirt defense.
  • Before the Wake Forest game, the last time Nebraska scored consecutive touchdowns on defense was on Oct. 19, 1963, when the Huskers had consecutive scores on interception returns in a 28-6 victory over Kansas State. In that game, Ron Michka returned an interception 16 yards for a score in the second quarter, and Larry Tomlinson had a 34-yard interception return in the third quarter.
  • Corey McKeon’s 38-yard INT return for a touchdown was the second pick of his career and his first career touchdown. It also marked the second straight quarter Nebraska had a interception return for a touchdown. Fellow linebacker Bo Ruud had a 27-yard interception return for a score in the fourth quarter against Maine.
  • Nebraska senior safety Daniel Bullocks returned a first-quarter fumble 30 yards for a touchdown to give Nebraska a 14-0 advantage. The touchdown was Nebraska’s third defensive touchdown in a span of two quarters. In 2004, Nebraska did not score a touchdown on defense.
  • The fumble return for a touchdown was the second of Bullocks’ career. His first came last season at Kansas State when he returned a fumble punt snap 10 yards for a touchdown.
  • In addition to his fumble return, Bullocks had 13 tackles, the second-highest tackle total of Bullocks’ career, trailing only a 15-tackle effort at Texas in 2003. Bullocks’ 13 tackles pushed his career total to 157, moving him into the top 50 on Nebraska’s career tackles list.
  • The Nebraska defense forced four turnovers, marking the first time the Blackshirts had forced three or more turnovers in a game since NU took the ball away from Pittsburgh four times last season.
  • Nebraska has allowed just 10 points in the season’s first two games, the fewest points Nebraska has allowed in the first two games of the season since allowing seven points combined in the first two games of the 1999 season (42-7 vs. Iowa, 45-0 vs. California).
  • Linebacker Stewart Bradley gave Nebraska its third defensive score of the night with a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, giving Nebraska a 31-3 lead. The touchdown was the first of Bradley’s career, and also marked his first career interception.
  • Nebraska senior I-back Cory Ross rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries, pushing his career rushing total to 2,064 yards, making Ross the 23rd player in Nebraska history to surpass 2,000 career rushing yards. Ross eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark on a 57-yard scamper at the start of the third quarter that set up Nebraska’s TD that put the Huskers ahead 21-3. The 57-yard run was the second-longest rush of Ross’ career. The 123-yard effort by Ross was the 10th 100-yard rushing game of his Nebraska career.
  • Sam Koch’s 76-yard punt in the fourth quarter was the third-longest punt in school history, topping his previous career long of 70 set in last week’s season opener. He is only the second punter in school history to record two 70-yard punts, joining current Cincinnati Bengal Kyle Larson, who had three during his career.
  • Nebraska’s victory over Wake Forest improved the Huskers to 2-0 all-time against the Demon Deacons, and marked Nebraska’s first regular-season victory over an ACC opponent since a 1973 win over North Carolina State.
  • The 31-3 Husker victory marked just the second loss by more than seven points for Wake Forest in the past two seasons and the first time since the 2000 season that Wake Forest was held without an offensive touchdown.
  • The 51-yard field goal by Wake Forest place-kicker Sam Swank tied for the second-longest field goal by an opponent at Memorial Stadium, trailing only Auburn’s Al Del Greco, who connected on a 52-yard attempt on Oct. 3, 1981.

Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan
Coach Bill Callahan (Illinois Benedictine, 1978) is in his second season as the head coach of the Nebraska football program and owns a 7-6 record at Nebraska. Callahan is the 27th head coach in Husker history, taking the reins of the program in January of 2004.

Callahan came to Nebraska after two seasons as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He guided Oakland to the AFC Championship and Super Bowl XXXVII in his rookie season as a head coach in 2002, and compiled a 17-18 overall record as the Raiders' head man.

Callahan is one of five coaches to take a collegiate head coaching job after previously guiding a team to a Super Bowl appearance. Army Head Coach Bobby Ross is also active in the college ranks, while George Allen, Forrest Gregg and Bill Walsh previously led teams to the Super Bowl and returned to the college game.

The 49-year-old Callahan spent nine years in the National Football League, beginning his pro coaching career with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1995 to 1997. He served as an assistant with the Raiders for four seasons from 1998 to 2001, before taking over the top job in Oakland in 2002.

Callahan had extensive experience at the collegiate level before taking the job at Nebraska. Before moving into the professional ranks, Callahan served as the offensive line coach at Wisconsin for five seasons and also had assistant coaching stints at Illinois, Northern Arizona and Southern Illinois. Overall, Callahan is in his 28th year in the coaching profession. In addition to his nine years in the National Football League and 15 previous seasons as a collegiate assistant, Callahan was an assistant coach for two seasons in the Illinois prep ranks in 1978 and 1979.

Callahan has Midwest roots, as he is a native of Chicago. He earned his bachelor's degree from Illinois Benedictine in 1978. He was an NAIA honorable-mention All-America selection as a quarterback in each of his final two seasons.

Huskers-Pitt Matchup Features NFL Flavor
Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan and Pitt head man Dave Wannstedt are among 10 current Division I-A head coaches who previously served as head coaches in the National Football League. Callahan was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and 2003, while Wannstedt had NFL head-coaching stints with the Chicago Bears (1993-98) and the Miami Dolphins (2000-04).

Callahan and Wannstedt met once as NFL head coaches, with Wannstedt’s Dolphins posting a 23-17 victory over the Raiders in December of 2002. The setback was the Raiders’ final loss before Callahan led them through the AFC Playoffs and to a berth in the Super Bowl.

Before taking over as the Raiders’ head coach in 2002, Callahan spent seven years as an NFL assistant coach, including 1995-97 with the Philadelphia Eagles and 1998-2001 with the Raiders. During that period, Callahan and Wannstedt were on the opposite sideline in three additional games, with Wannstedt owning a 2-1 edge. The Raiders, with Callahan as offensive coordinator, defeated Miami, 27-0 in the 2000 AFC Divisional Playoffs.

Callahan vs. Wannstedt in the National Football League
1995 - Chicago vs. Philadelphia Bears, 20-14 Chicago
2000 - Miami vs. Oakland* Raiders, 27-0 Oakland
2001 - Miami vs. Oakland Dolphins, 18-15 Miami
2002 - Miami vs. Oakland Dolphins, 23-17 Miami
Bold indicates Callahan (Oakland), Wannstedt (Miami) head coaching matchup
*-AFC Divisional Playoff

The Nebraska-Pitt matchup on Saturday is one of four matchups this season in Division I-A college football between teams with head coaches who previously served as NFL head coaches. Other matchups include Virginia-Georgia Tech (Groh-Gailey), Kentucky-South Carolina (Brooks-Spurrier) and Hawaii-USC (Jones-Carroll).

Nebraska Staff Features Minor Adjustments for 2005 Season
The coaching staff Bill Callahan has assembled at Nebraska has a championship background, both on the collegiate and professional level. There is only one change on the 2005 staff as Ted Gilmore is serving as Nebraska’s receivers coach after spending the previous two seasons on the Colorado coaching staff. Gilmore has also coached wideouts at Purdue, Houston, Kansas and his alma mater, Wyoming. In addition to adding Gilmore to the staff, Callahan also made a minor adjustment to the defensive staff prior to spring football. Bill Busch moved from coaching the outside linebackers to tutoring Nebraska’s safeties, while secondary coach Phil Elmassian now focuses on the cornerbacks. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove now coaches all three Husker linebacker positions.

Gilmore’s strong coaching background adds to an impressive staff that has had success at all levels, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.

  • Callahan's coaching staff features four coaches who have either played or coached in the Super Bowl. Callahan and Norvell coached in Super Bowl XXXVII with Oakland, and running backs coach Randy Jordan was a player on that team. John Blake was part of the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl championship teams in both 1993 and 1995.
  • In addition to the NFL success of the coaches, Callahan's staff has a history of winning championships at the collegiate level. Members of the Nebraska coaching staff have been part of teams that have captured league titles in each of the following conferences–Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Mid-American, Mountain West, Pac-10 and Western Athletic.
  • The staff has recruiting ties in nearly every part of the United States. Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming compiled a list of the 10 best recruiters in college history in 2001. Callahan was included on the list although he had been out of the college ranks for six years at that time. Defensive line coach John Blake was recognized by Rivals.com as one of the nation’s top recruiters in 2005.

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