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Huskers Open Big 12 Play vs. Iowa State

By NU Athletic Communications
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska (3-0)
vs. #23 Iowa State (3-0)
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2005 (2:36 p.m.) 

Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb. (73,918)
Tom Osborne Field (FieldTurf, 2005)
272nd Consecutive Sellout

Nebraska Radio: 55-Station Pinnacle Sports Network
(Jim Rose, Adrian Fiala, Randy Lee, Matt Davison)
Satellite Radio: Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 107
TV: ABC Regional
(Dr. Jerry Punch; Terry Bowden; Trenni Kusnierek)
Internet: Live Radio on Huskers.com Satellite Radio: Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 141
Special Events: Special Olympics Day; 100th All-Time Meeting Between Two Schools

Nebraska, Cyclones Kick Off Big 12 Season with Key North Division Matchup

Nebraska returns to action following a bye week by kicking off Big 12 action with a North Division matchup against Iowa State. The Cyclones and Huskers both come into the game after perfect 3-0 non-conference seasons. The Nebraska-ISU contest will be televised to a regional audience by ABC, with kickoff set for 2:36 p.m. Dr. Jerry Punch will call the play-by-play action, with Terry Bowden providing color analysis and Trenni Kusnierek on the sidelines.

The Huskers enter the game with a 3-0 record in large part because of dominant defense and special teams play during the non-conference slate. The defense has allowed only 16 points in three games and scored four touchdowns of its own. The special teams have also played a key role, highlighted by a blocked field goal on the game’s final play in a 7-6 victory over Pitt on Sept. 17 at Memorial Stadium.

Iowa State represents Nebraska’s first game of the season against a ranked opponent, as the Cyclones come to Lincoln ranked 23rd in this week’s Associated Press Poll and are atop the list of others receiving votes in the coaches poll. ISU completed its perfect non-league slate with a 28-21 victory at Army last Friday night. Iowa State’s most impressive win to date was a 23-3 vitory over then No. 8 Iowa on Sept. 10 in Ames.

Saturday’s matchup marks the 100th all-time meeting between the two schools, with Nebraska holding an 81-16-2 advantage in the series. The Huskers have won the past 13 matchups in Lincoln and hold a 47-6 advantage in home games against Iowa State.

Huskers Survive Bizarre Finish in Win over Pittsburgh


In a wild ending to a game filled with missed opportunities, Nebraska linebacker Adam Ickes blocked Josh Cummings’ 46-yard field goal attempt with no time on the clock to preserve Nebraska’s 7-6 victory over visiting Pittsburgh at Memorial Stadium. Ickes’ blocked field goal was the second field goal block of the day for the Huskers, joining freshman defensive end Zach Potter’s first-quarter block on Pitt’s opening drive. Nebraska had a pair of missed field goals, but a stellar defensive effort by Nebraska’s Blackshirts and spectacular play from the Husker punt teams allowed NU to improve to 3-0 on the season.


The Nebraska defense kept the defending Big East champ Panthers out of the end zone, while sacking 2004 All-Big East quarterback Tyler Palko four times. Defensive ends Adam Carriker and Wali Muhammad powered a strong defensive effort that kept the opponent out of the end zone for the second straight week. Carriker finished the day with seven tackles, including four tackles for 26 yards lost and two sacks for 21 yards, while Muhammad added three tackles with a pair of sacks.


The Huskers also received strong special teams play from Ray Guy Award nominee Sam Koch, who smashed the longest punt of his career for the third consecutive week. Koch boomed an 84-yard punt, the second-longest punt in school history, in the third quarter. Koch’s punt flipped the field on the Panthers, burying them inside their own 10. Koch hit three punts of 50 or more yards on the day and pinned Pitt inside its own 20 on five of his eight punts, and was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week.


After Nebraska missed a field goal early in the second quarter, the Blackshirts kept the pressure on Palko, helping give the offense excellent field position. Junior quarterback Zac Taylor then found wide receiver Terrence Nunn deep down the middle of the field on a 36-yard pass play, before Taylor capped the drive with the first rushing touchdown of his career on a one-yard scoring plunge with 7:51 left in the second quarter.


Pittsburgh sliced into NU’s lead with a pair of third-quarter field goals by Cummings. He connected from 38 yards with 12:39 to play in the period, then hit on a 27-yard field goal with 1:44 left in the third to cut the lead to a single point at 7-6. Cummings misfired on a 49-yard attempt that would have put Pitt in front with 11:19 to play.


After Nebraska’s Jordan Congdon missed his second field goal of the day on a 38-yard attempt with 1:28 remaining in the game, Palko drove Pitt from its own 22 to the Nebraska 29 to set up a potential game-winning field goal on second down with seven seconds left. After Nebraska took two timeouts, the Panthers snapped the ball off holder Adam Graessle’s helmet when he was not looking, but the ball zipped off Graessle’s head directly into Cummings’ hands, who threw an incomplete pass behind the Nebraska defense.  The Nebraska sideline erupted into celebration, but one tick remained on the clock, giving the Panthers a second chance for the win on third down.


But Ickes sent the crowd and Nebraska sideline into a frenzy again when he sprinted off the corner of the right side of Nebraska’s line and smashed Cummings’ kick into the ground. It was the first blocked kick of Ickes’ career.


Senior I-back Cory Ross carried the offensive load for the Huskers, carrying 16 times for 83 yards in the first half alone, and finishing with 32 carries for 153 yards, while also leading the Huskers with three receptions for 23 yards.


Taylor finished the day 10-of-20 through the air for 93 yards, while Palko struggled to complete just 11-of-26 passes for 190 yards against the Blackshirts.  The Huskers finished the day with 267 yards of total offense, while the Panthers accumulated 304 yards of total offense. Nebraska did own an edge in time of possession, controlling the ball for 32:43, while Pitt maintained possession for just 27:17.


Noting Game Three...Nebraska 7, Pittsburgh 6


  • I-back Cory Ross rushed 32 times for 153 yards, marking his 11th career 100-yard rushing game. The 153 rushing yards moved Ross into the top 20 on NU’s career rushing list. Ross now has 2,217 career rushing yards, good for 17th place on the Nebraska career rushing list. 
  • Nebraska junior defensive end Adam Carriker had two sacks for 21 yards and finished with seven total tackles and four tackles for loss netting 26 yards in losses. Carriker leads Nebraska this season with five sacks, resulting in 48 yards in losses.  
  • Senior defensive end Wali Muhammad recorded two sacks for 13 yards, giving him four sacks on the season. The game marked Muhammad’s second consecutive big day against the Panthers. Last year in Pittsburgh, Muhammad had an interception, a forced fumble, one tackle for loss, two pass breakups and five quarterback hurries. 
  • The Nebraska defense finished with four sacks for 34 yards in losses. In three games the Huskers now have 20 total sacks, including a school-record tying 11 sacks against Maine and five against Wake Forest 
  • The Nebraska defense has not allowed a point in the first quarter in three games this season and has allowed just three points in the first half on the year. The three points came on 51-yard field goal by Wake Forest’s Sam Swank on the final play of the first half.  
  • Nebraska senior punter Sam Koch rocketed a career-long 84-yard punt in the third quarter, giving him three punts of 70 yards or longer this season. The 84-yard punt is the second-longest punt in Nebraska school history, trailing only an 87-yard punt by Mike Stigge on Oct. 10, 1992 against Oklahoma State. Koch is just the second punter in school history with three career punts of 70 yards or more, joining his predecessor Kyle Larson, now a member of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. Koch also had five of his punts downed inside the Panther 20, including one at the one-yard line and another at the Panther 4.  
  • Nebraska sophomore Terrence Nunn returned a second-quarter punt 62 yards, tying his career-long set earlier this season against Maine. Nunn has seven returns for 213 yards this season. 
  • Nebraska freshman defensive end Zach Potter blocked a field goal attempt by Pitt on its first drive of the day, marking the first blocked field goal by a Husker since Trevor Johnson blocked a field goal at Texas in 2003. Senior linebacker Adam Ickes added another blocked field goal attempt on the final play of the game, marking the first time NU recorded two blocked field goals in a game since a Nov. 26, 2000 game against Colorado. 
  • The 13 combined points marked the fewest combined points in a Nebraska game since the Huskers’ 13-0 victory over Baylor on Sept. 1, 1990. The last time NU was victorious with seven points was a 7-3 win at Oklahoma on Nov. 19, 1988. The last time the Huskers were victorious when scoring fewer than seven points was at Missouri on Oct. 24, 1981 (6-0). 
  • Neither team committed a turnover in the game, marking the first time since a 24-17 Nebraska win over Oklahoma State at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 3, 1998 that the Huskers were involved in a turnover-free game. The Pitt game was Nebraska’s first turnover-free contest since last year’s win over Baylor. 
  • Nebraska freshman place-kicker Jordan Congdon misfired on a 26-yard field goal early in the second quarter, ending a streak of five straight made FG to open his Husker career.  
  • Four Huskers made their Nebraska debuts against Pitt. Place-kicker Jake Wesch handled kickoff duties, while running back Cody Glenn saw his first action of the season, carrying four times for 20 yards. Safety Leon Jackson and redshirt freshman offensive tackle Lydon Murtha also played for the first time in their NU careers. Redshirt freshman tight end Clayton Sievers made his first career start as NU opened in a two tight-end formation.
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