Huskers Kick Off 2006 Against Louisiana Tech
No. 20 Nebraska (0-0)
vs. Louisiana Tech (0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 2 - 2:40 p.m. (FSN - National)
Memorial Stadium (81,067) - Lincoln, Neb.
Tom Osborne Field - FieldTurf (2005)
Series: Nebraska Leads, 1-0
Radio: Pinnacle Sports Network (51 stations)
Sirius Satellite Radio: Channel 143
Lincoln - Nebraska begins its 117th season of college football Saturday when the Huskers take on Louisiana Tech in a 2:40 p.m. contest in Lincoln. The game will be televised to a national audience on FSN, and will be played before the 276th consecutive sellout at the newly-expanded Memorial Stadium.
The Huskers and Louisiana Tech will play in front of a record crowd at Memorial Stadium. Capacity has grown to 81,067 for the 2006 season with the addition of 6,500 new seats in the North stadium in addition to new sky suites. The Memorial Stadium record crowd heading into 2006 was 78,268 fans who witnessed the Nebraska-Texas matchup in 2002.
The game against Louisiana Tech marks the start of Nebraska’s third season under Head Coach Bill Callahan. Nebraska enters the season as the favorite in the Big 12’s North Division, according to a preseason poll of the league’s media. The 2006 Huskers represent the most veteran squad in Callahan’s three seasons with 16 starters returning, including eight on offense, seven on defense and a starting place-kicker.
Although the Huskers are eight months removed from the conclusion of the 2005 season, Nebraska is still riding a surge of momentum from a strong finish to last year. The Huskers won their final three games of the season to finish with an 8-4 mark. Nebraska capped the year with a 32-28 win over Michigan in the Alamo Bowl, allowing the Huskers to finish ranked 24th in both national polls.
The Huskers also start the 2006 campaign in the national polls. Nebraska is ranked 20th in the Associated Press poll, while the nation’s coaches list the Huskers 22nd in the preseason poll. It is the first time Nebraska has opened the season ranked since 2002.
Louisiana Tech comes to Lincoln for a season opener for the second time in the past nine seasons. The Bulldogs visited Lincoln for the 1998 Eddie Robinson Football Classic, with Nebraska posting a 56-27 victory. The game was a wild offensive affair and produced numerous Memorial Stadium records. The Bulldogs finished the 2005 campaign with a 7-4 record, including a 6-2 mark in Western Athletic Conference games.
2006 Schedule to Provide Nebraska with Stern Test
Louisiana Tech is the first of eight 2006 Nebraska opponents that posted winning records a year ago. The Bulldogs finished 7-4 and are one of seven Husker opponents to win seven or more games last season.
Nebraska faces the challenge of taking on both of last year’s national championship game participants with a Sept. 16 date at USC and an Oct. 21 game in Lincoln against defending national champion Texas. The Huskers are the only team in the country to face both of last year’s title game participants in the regular season.
In addition to both of last year’s Rose Bowl teams, Nebraska also faces Kansas (Fort Worth), Iowa State (Houston), Missouri (Independence) and Colorado (Champs Sports). Additionally, both Louisiana Tech (7-4) and Nicholls State (6-4) posted winning seasons in 2005.
NU Hopes to Extend Success in Season Openers
Nebraska enters Saturday afternoon’s game with the nation’s longest winning streak in season openers. The Huskers have came out on the winning side in each of their last 20 season openers, dating back to a 17-13 loss to Florida State in 1985.
Included in the 20-game win streak in season openers is a 56-27 victory over Louisiana Tech in 1998 at Memorial Stadium. That game marked one of 13 times in the past 20 years Nebraska has scored 40 or more points in a season opener. In that same period, the Huskers have limited the opposition to 14 points or less 13 times.
The Huskers’ 20-game win streak in season openers is four better than the 16 straight season-opening wins by both Kansas State and Florida. The Huskers have won each of their last 20 season openers by 10 or more points, and own an 85-26-5 all-time record in season openers. Since 1973, Nebraska is 28-4-1 in season openers, including 23-2 at Memorial Stadium, with losses only to Florida State (1985) and Washington State (1977). In all-time home openers Nebraska is 94-17-5, including 66-14-3 at Memorial Stadium. The Huskers are 30-2 in their last 32 home openers.
Bigger Memorial Stadium to See 276th Consecutive Sellout on Saturday
Saturday’s game will mark the 276th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium, an ongoing NCAA record. The sellout streak dates back to Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney’s first year at Nebraska in 1962 (vs. Missouri on Nov. 3).
Nebraska’s 276 consecutive sellouts easily outdistance Notre Dame, which ranks second nationally with 183 consecutive sellouts. Nebraska has had remarkable success during the sellout streak, posting a 242-33 record during the 275 sellouts. The mark includes a 39-21 record against ranked teams. Nebraska is 5-0 in the five milestone sellouts during that period (50th, 100th, 150th, 200th and 250th sellouts), including a 24-7 win over No. 2 Colorado on Oct. 29, 1994 (No. 200) and a 44-13 victory over Utah State on Sept. 7, 2002 (No. 250).
Although sellouts have become commonplace in Lincoln, Saturday’s game will be a little different than recent years. The addition of new seating in the North Stadium will result in a new record crowd in excess of 80,000 for the Louisiana Tech game. Capacity at Memorial Stadium is 81,067, while the previous record crowd at Memorial Stadium is 78,268. Nebraska has played before 10 crowds of more than 82,000 fans in school history entering the 2006 season, but are likely to have nine games this season with crowds in excess of 82,000.
Huskers Enjoying New Home in 2006
The Nebraska football program moved into its new home in the summer of 2006. After being housed in the South Stadium for more than three decades, the Huskers moved into the Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex before the start of training camp in early August. Among the features in the new facility are...
- The Charles and Romona Myers Performance Center...Located on the first floor of the Osborne Complex, the Myers Performance Center includes a state-of-the art athletic medicine facility, a spacious and sparkling new strength complex and a new locker room and equipment room for the Huskers.
- New football offices...The Nebraska football offices are housed on the second floor of the Osborne Complex and provide the Husker staff and players with the needed tools to prepare at a championship level.
The change in location will lead to a significant change in Nebraska’s pre-game routine. The Huskers’ famous "Tunnel Walk" will now conclude with the team entering the field from the Northwest Corner of Tom Osborne Field.
The football program benefitted in numerous ways from the project, and Nebraska fans will also have several new features available.
- New HuskerVision screens... Memorial Stadium features three new HuskerVision screens for the 2006 season. High above the North end of Memorial Stadium is a massive 33 x 117-foot screen. In addition to video, the large HuskerVision screen will feature a scoreboard, statistics and ticker. Two new HuskerVision screens were also placed on the Southeast and Southwest towers allowing fans in the north end of the stadium great viewing angles of the HuskerVision screens.
- More Husker fans...6,500 seats were added in the North Stadium, in addtion to 13 new sky suites on the seventh floor of the Osborne Complex and new and improved handicapped seating. Nebraska received more than 15,000 requests for the 6,500 seats in less than three weeks.
- Improved fan amenities...All ticket holders at Memorial Stadium will benefit from a new large concourse in the North Stadium. The concourse now connects the East, West and North stadiums. New gates were also added on the North end, aiding in entering and exiting Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan is in his third season as the head coach of the Nebraska football program and owns a 13-10 record with the Huskers. Callahan is the 27th head coach in Husker history, taking the reins of the program in January of 2004.
Callahan capped his second season at Nebraska with three consecutive wins, including a triumph over Michigan in the Alamo Bowl. The 2005 season marked the first time Nebraska has won its final three games of the season since 1999. Callahan also guided Nebraska to wins over Kansas State and Colorado in the same season for the first time since 1999.
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 50-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 29th 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 Boast Championship Coaching Staff
Callahan has built a coaching staff with championship credentials, both on the collegiate and professional level. There was just one change on the 2006 coaching staff. Former Colorado offensive coordinator Shawn Watson joined the Huskers last winter and serves as the Huskers’ tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Watson and Callahan worked together at the University of Illinois in the early 1980s.
Watson was the architect of a Colorado offense that helped the Buffs to four Big 12 North titles in the past five years and a conference championship in 2001. Watson’s strong coaching backgrond 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 Offensive Coordinator Jay 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, Big 12, 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.
Callahan Has Busy Off-Season of Charity Events
Since his arrival at Nebraska, Callahan has impressed upon his players the importance of a well-rounded experience including community outreach and involvement. In that area, Callahan has led by example. Callahan continues to spend significant time in the off-season with community events, including several Coach Callahan Charities functions.
The third Football 101 for Women took place in early June in Lincoln, with more than 1,100 participants learning more about the game of football. For the first time the event took place at Nebraska’s Hawks Championship Center. The day included demonstrations on all parts of football, a Q&A forum with Husker players, and the event again concluded with participants breaking into beginning, intermediate and advanced groups to learn more about the X’s and O’s of the game from members of the Husker staff. The Football 101 event raised more than $50,000 to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Callahan and his wife, Valerie, also spearheaded Coach Callahan’s Fun Run/Walk for Resources on Saturday, Aug. 19. Coach Callahan was the starter for the race and also weclomed the winners to the finish line on Stadium Drive. The event raised funds for Juvenile Diabetes and the University Libraries.
Callahan was the featured speaker at the Make-a-Wish Foundation’s Red Tie Dinner in Lincoln in late July, and was the featured speaker at the Special Olympics Breakfast of Champions last spring.
A Look Back at 1998 Nebraska-Louisiana Tech Meeting
This year’s matchup between Nebraska and Louisiana Tech will have a hard time matching the offensive fireworks in the 1998 meeting between the two schools. The Huskers posted a 56-27 victory over the Bulldogs in the Eddie Robinson Classic, but it was Louisiana Tech’s passing show that set records.
The game featured more than 1,000 yards of total offense, and the Huskers posted a comfortable victory despite being out-gained 569 to 462. Louisiana Tech quarterback Tim Rattay completed 46-of-68 pass attempts for 590 yards and four touchdowns in the losing effort. Rattay’s 590 passing yards are 101 yards more than the No. 2 passing effort against Nebraska.
Tech receiver Troy Edwards made a name for himself by setting an NCAA record with 405 receiving yards on 21 receptions. The next highest receiving total against Nebraska is 220 yards. Edwards caught four touchdown passes, including three TD receptions of more than 50 yards. Edwards’ 94-yard touchdown reception is the second-longest ever against Nebraska, while an 80-yard connection between Rattay and Edwards is tied for the eighth-longest passing touchdown against the Huskers.
Despite the aerial heroics by Louisiana Tech, Nebraska cruised to the victory on the strength of holding the Bulldogs to a minus-21 yards rushing on 14 attempts. Offensively, Nebraska received 143 rushing yards from Correll Buckhalter and a 9-of-10 passing effort by quarterback Bobby Newcombe. Nebraska sprinted to a 35-6 edge at halftime and held a 32:04 to 27:56 advantage in time of possession.
Scouting the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Louisiana Tech enters the season with a chip on its shoulder after failing to be selected for its first bowl appearance since 2001, despite posting a 7-4 record in 2005. The Bulldogs capped a successful campaign with a 40-28 road win over No. 23 ranked Fresno State in front of a national television audience on ESPN2.
Tech returns only nine starters from its first winning squad in four years, including only two on defense. The Bulldogs feature a multiple one-back offensive attack under Head Coach Jack Bicknell, while former Nebraska secondary coach George Darlington will lead a 3-4 defensive unit in his first season as defensive coordinator.
Despite returning seven starters from an offense that helped Tech score its most points since 2002, the Bulldogs must find a replacement for former quarterback Matt Kubik. Juniors Zac Champion and Joe Danna and redshirt freshman Michael Mosley form a group of signal callers that is tied for sixth in NCAA Division I for fewest pass attempts among returning quarterbacks. Collectively, the trio has attempted eight passes in their careers. Fortunately, two talented targets return in wide receivers Eric Newman and Johnathan Holland, who combined for nearly 60 receptions and 1,000 yards in 2005.The squad will lean heavily this year on a ground game featuring running backs Freddie Franklin and Patrick Jackson, who combined to rush for nearly 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
Tech will need to make wholesale changes on defense this season after losing nine starters from last year’s 3-4 unit that ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin. Hit hardest by graduation was the Bulldog defensive line, which lost its three starters and five of its top six overall. Three linebackers and three defensive backs must also be replaced. Free safety Dez Abrams and junior MIKE linebacker Brannon Jackson will provide much-needed leadership as the lone returnees, as the duo ranked third and fourth, respectively, on the squad in tackles last season.
The Bulldogs should be solid in the kicking game in 2006, returning both place-kicker Danny Horwedel and punter Chris Keagle. Horwedel, who was a member of the Lou Groza Award Watch List in 2005, led the WAC in both scoring and field goals made per game last season, while Keagle ranked No. 6 in the conference with a 37.4 yards-per-kick average. Tech also boasts returnees at both kick-off and punt return positions, including the NCAA’s 19th-ranked kick return duo of Patrick Jackson and safety Weldon Brown, who combined to record a 23.21 yards-per-return average.
Louisiana Tech Head Coach Jack Bicknell
Coach Jack Bicknell (Boston College, 1985) enters his eighth year at the helm of the Bulldogs after replacing former Louisiana Tech Head Coach Gary Crowton in 1999. Bicknell owns a 40-42 record at Tech, tying for third on the school’s all-time wins list. He guided the Bulldogs to the 2001 WAC title and Humanitarian Bowl appearance in their first year affiliated with the conference, which led to Bicknell’s first WAC Coach-of-the-Year honor.
In addition to the 7-5 record in 2001, Bicknell also has led Tech to winning records of 8-3 in 1999 and 7-4 in 2005. Last year’s Bulldog squad finished third in the WAC but was not selected for a bowl.
Louisiana Tech has played many of the nation’s top programs during Bicknell’s tenure, including 24 games against BCS opponents over the last seven years. The Bulldogs have posted three victories over ranked teams during that time, including wins over 18th-ranked Alabama in 1999 and 17th- (2004) and 23rd- (2005) ranked Fresno State during the past two years.
Nebraska-Louisiana Tech Series...
Second Meeting...Nebraska Leads 1-0-0
Nebraska and Louisiana Tech will be meeting for only the second time, as NU claimed a 56-27 win in Lincoln to kick off the 1998 season in the Eddie Robinson Classic. For more information on that matchup, please see page five in the notes.
Huskers Look for Win No. 800 in 117th Season of Storied Program
Nebraska enters its 117th season of college football in 2006 as the fourth-winningest program in terms of victories. The Huskers own a 794-321-40 all-time record in 1,155 games (.705) in 116 years of football.
This season, Nebraska hopes to become just the fourth program in college football history to record 800 all-time victories. Texas picked up its 800th win in last season’s Rose Bowl, joining Michigan and Notre Dame in the exclusive club. The Huskers and Longhorns will meet on Oct. 21 in Lincoln in Nebraska’s eighth game of the season. The other two members of the 800-club, Michigan and Notre Dame will square off on Sept. 16 in South Bend, Ind.
- Since the first season of Nebraska football in 1890, Husker teams have won 11 or more games 12 times, including seven times since 1993.
- Nebraska has won 12 or more games seven times, including three seasons with 13 wins (1971, 1994, 1997).
- Nebraska (702), Michigan (705), Alabama (728) and Notre Dame (736) were the only programs to win 700 games in the 1900s.
Nebraska–College Football’s Winningest Program Since 1970
The bulk of Nebraska’s football success has come since 1962 when Bob Devaney arrived from Wyoming and resurrected the Husker program. Devaney capped his career with consecutive national titles in 1970 and 1971, starting an unbelievable run of 10-plus victory seasons, conference and national championships.
In the past 36 seasons, beginning with 1970, Nebraska has posted a remarkable 360 victories, an average of exactly 10 wins per season. The Huskers’ overall record in that time period is 360-80-5 for an .815 winning percentage in 445 games.
In that time span, Nebraska has easily established itself as the nation’s winningest program, posting 29 more victories than second-place Michigan, followed by Oklahoma (322), Ohio State (322) and Penn State (319).
- Nebraska has won 10 games or more 24 times since 1962, including 21 times since 1970.
- The Huskers have finished the regular season undefeated and untied seven times since 1965, and played in 13 national title games (for one of the two teams) and won the national title five times since 1970.
- Nebraska was the first team in college football history to win 100 or more games in consecutive decades, ranking first in the 1980s (103-20, .837) and second in the 1990s (108-16-1, .868). Nebraska narrowly missed 100 victories in the 1970s with 98 wins, and posted a nation-leading 309 wins from 1970 to 1999.
Taylor Looks to Continue Assault on Passing Record Book
Senior quarterback Zac Taylor has excelled during fall camp and appears to be poised for a strong year as Nebraska’s field general. Despite entering just his second year at Nebraska, Taylor enters the 2006 campaign with numerous Nebraska career passing records in his sights.
Last season, Taylor shattered several Nebraska game and season passing records in his first season after transferring from Butler County Community College in Kansas. Among the top accomplishments for the 6-2, 210-pound Taylor in 2005 were:
- Taylor's 2,653 passing yards established a Nebraska single-season record, shattering the previous single-season NU record of 2,074 yards by Dave Humm in 1972. Taylor's passing total marked just the fifth time in school history a quarterback had passed for more than 2,000 yards in a single season.
- Taylor posted the top two single-game passing totals in school history with 431 yards against Iowa State and 392 yards at Colorado. All four 300-yard passing days in Nebraska history have come in Bill Callahan's two seasons as head coach.
- The 19 touchdown passes by Taylor were the most by a Husker quarterback in 16 seasons and just one shy of the school record of 20 touchdown passes by Vince Ferragamo in 1976.
- Taylor threw for two or more touchdown passes in eight of the season’s final nine games, including a career-high three TD passes against Michigan in the Alamo Bowl.
- Taylor set numerous other school records, including most pass attempts (55) and completions (36) in a game vs. Iowa State, and most pass attempts (430) and completions (237) in a season.
Taylor's 2,653 passing yards entering his senior season places him 10th on the Husker career passing yardage list. If Taylor were to duplicate his 2005 passing yardage total, he would break the school career passing record of 5,035 yards set by Dave Humm from 1972 to 1974. Taylor could start his ascent up the charts this week against Louisiana Tech, as he is less than 200 yards from seventh on the career passing list. Taylor is also in position to challenge the Nebraska record for career touchdown passes, held by Tommie Frazier who had 43 scoring strikes from 1992 to 1995.
Receiving Tandem Looks for Another Big Season
Taylor’s favorite targets during his NU record-setting passing season were wideouts Terrence Nunn and Nate Swift. The duo combined for 88 receptions, 1,136 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. In the process, both Nunn and Swift finished in the top five on Nebraska's single-season receptions list.
Swift did not catch a pass in the first three games of his redshirt freshman season, but exploded at the start of conference play. He nabbed five receptions against Iowa State, then had consecutive nine-reception efforts against Missouri and Oklahoma. He finished the season with 45 receptions for 641 yards and seven touchdowns, all Husker freshman records. His 45 catches were the most by a Nebraska player in 33 seasons and the third-most ever by a Husker.
Nunn was Nebraska's most consistent receiver in 2005. The Houston native caught at least one pass in all 12 games of his sophomore season, including nine games with three or more receptions. Like Swift, Nunn also caught seven touchdown passes from Taylor, including a pair of TD receptions in the Alamo Bowl. Overall, Nunn had 43 catches to tie for fourth on the NU single-season receptions list with former teammate Cory Ross, who caught an NU running back record 43 passes in 2005.
Nunn and Swift enter the 2006 campaign poised to make big jumps on the Husker career receiving charts. Nunn has 59 catches in his first two seasons and ranks 15th on the NU career receptions list. He is just six catches from the top 10, 13 from the top five and 34 catches from second place on the Husker receptions list.
After just one season in a Husker uniform, Swift is tied for 29th in school history with 45 catches. The 2005 season marked the first time in school history that three players had caught 40 or more passes in the same season.
Blackshirt "Sack Attack" Hopes for Encore in 2006
The Nebraska defense was a greatly improved unit in 2005, finishing in the top 30 nationally in total defense, rushing defense, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. A major part of the success of the Blackshirt defense was the pressure it applied to opposing quarterbacks. The Huskers finished the season with 50 sacks, a figure that led the nation and ranked as the second-most sacks in school history, trailing only the 53 in 1999.
Nebraska again figures to have the ability to pressure quarterbacks this fall. Seven defensive starters return, including 2005 sack leader Adam Carriker who finished the year with 9.5 sacks from his base end position. Junior middle linebacker Corey McKeon had seven sacks a year ago, while freshman All-American defensive end Barry Turner had a Nebraska freshman record six sacks in 2005.
Overall, Nebraska returns players who accounted for 34.5 of the 50 sacks in the 2005 season. The most sacks Nebraska has recorded over the course of back-to-back seasons is 93 sacks in the 1984 (44) and 1985 (49) campaigns.
On the individual side, Carriker’s 9.5 sacks ranked just outside the top 10 on Nebraska’s season sack list. The 6-6, 295-pound Carriker enters his senior season with 13.5 career sacks, just one sack outside of the top 10 on the Husker career list and nine sacks from cracking the top five.
Callahan's Huskers Continue to Perform in Classroom
Nebraska has continued its tradition of excellence in the classroom under Head Coach Bill Callahan. In 2005, Kurt Mann and Dane Todd were the latest Huskers to earn CoSIDA first-team academic All-America honors.
Mann, a two-year starter at center, carried a 3.97 grade-point average in mechanized systems management before graduating in May. A native of Lincoln, Todd graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in biological sciences.
Mann and Todd were two of just nine juniors on the first-team academic All-America list, and Nebraska was one of only three schools with a pair of first-team selections. Both players are strong candidates to repeat as first-team academic All-America selections this fall. Nebraska has previously had two pairs of players earn back-to-back first-team academic All-America honors. In 1983 and 1984 defensive end Scott Strasburger and defensive lineman Rob Stuckey picked up consecutive All-America honors, while nose tackle Terry Connealy and offensive tackle Rob Zatechka earned the same recognition in 1993 and 1994.
Overall, Nebraska has had 12 players earn two first-team academic All-America selections, most recently defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch in 1999 and 2000. The selection of Mann and Todd gave the Husker football program 85 all-time academic All-Americans, a nation-leading total. The Husker athletic program as a whole also leads the nation with 233 academic All-America selections across all teams and all sports.
Four Huskers Enter Season as Graduate Students
Kurt Mann and Dane Todd are among a group of four Husker seniors who will participate in the 2006 season as graduate students. Senior safety Andrew Shanle and senior receiver Isaiah Fluellen also picked up their degrees during UNL’s spring commencement ceremonies, completing their undergraduate work in four years.
The four players will have a lot of company by the time bowl season rolls around. Among Nebraska’s 20-member senior class, 12 players are scheduled to earn their degrees by the conclusion of the fall semester.
Huskers Pace Big 12 Conference in Academic Awards
Nebraska had a Big-12 leading 22 players named to the first-team academic All-Big 12 team last fall. Fifteen Huskers were named to the first team, while another seven players earned second-team honors.
During the fall 2005 semester, Nebraska placed 31 players on the Big 12 Commissioner's Fall Academic Honor Roll, including six student-athletes who had perfect 4.0 grade-point averages for the semester. During the spring, 38 Huskers were named to the honor roll, with six players recording 4.0 GPAs for the spring semester. The honor roll recognizes all student-athletes who earned a 3.0 grade-point average or better in the previous semester.
Nebraska Honored by AFCA for Football Graduation Rate
The Husker football program was one of 29 schools from across the nation honored this spring by the American Football Coaches Association with the 2006 Academic Achievement Award.
The 29 schools that were honored achieved a graduation rate of 70 percent or better for the 2000-01 incoming freshman class. This year marked the sixth straight year Nebraska has received the honor and the 10th time since 1994 Nebraska has been recognized. Nebraska’s athletic program also leads the Big 12 in exhausted eligibility graduation rate for all sports at 93 percent.
Nebraska Owns Dominant Edge at Memorial Stadium
Nebraska has rewarded the loyality of its fans with incredible success at Memorial Stadium through the years. Nebraska finished 5-2 at home in 2005, and has won at least six home games in 17 of the past 19 seasons. Nebraska is 110-10 at home in the last 17 seasons (since 1989), including a pair of losses against teams that went on to win the national championship–Colorado in 1990 and Washington in 1991.
Since 1986, only seven different schools have left Memorial Stadium with a victory. During Nebraska’s run of success at home in the past 25 years, Nebraska has had three home winning streaks of 20 or more games. Nebraska had a school-record 47-game home winning streak from 1991 to 1998, a 26-game home streak from 1998 to 2002 and a 21-game win streak in the early 1980s.
Nebraska has not been shut out at home since a 12-0 loss to Kansas State in 1968 (241 games), and has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons. The Huskers are 477-129-20 (.778, 626 games, 116 years) in Lincoln, 352-106-13 (.761, 471 games, 83 years) in Memorial Stadium (since 1923).
Huskers Make Successful Return to Bowl Season in 2005
Nebraska returned to the postseason in 2005, and made the most of its 43rd all-time bowl appearance with a 32-28 victory over Michigan in the Alamo Bowl. The Alamo Bowl was Nebraska’s 36th bowl appearance in the past 37 seasons, and came after the Huskers’ streak of 35 straight bowl appearances ended in 2004.
Nebraska’s 43 all-time bowl appearances rank fifth nationally, trailing Alabama, Texas, Tennessee and USC. The Huskers pushed their all-time bowl record over the .500 mark at 22-21 following the win over Michigan. Nebraska has won eight of its past 11 bowl games dating back to the 1994 season.
Huskers Among Leaders in AP National Titles
Notre Dame leads the nation by winning eight Associated Press national titles since 1936, with Oklahoma (7), Alabama (6), Miami (5), USC (5), Nebraska (4) and Minnesota (4) next in line. While the Huskers were awarded the national title by the coaches in 1997, NU finished second to Michigan in the AP poll.
In 1970, Nebraska was awarded the AP national title, but not the coaches (Texas was first, Ohio State second and NU third) as the final poll was released before the bowl games were played. In the coaches poll (since 1950), Nebraska is tied for fourth with Miami and Texas with four titles, behind Alabama and Oklahoma with six apiece, and USC with five.
Nebraska enters the 2006 campaign with the goal of reaching the Big 12 Conference Championship Game on Dec. 2 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The game has been held in Kansas City on three previous occasions, but Nebraska has not been involved in those three games.
This fall Nebraska will be looking for its first appearance in the league title game since 1999. The Huskers played in three of the first four Big 12 title games, winning the title in 1997 and 1999, with both of those games played in San Antonio.
Nebraska is one of three teams to capture two or more Big 12 titles in the first decade of the conference, joining Oklahoma with three and Texas with two. Kansas State, Texas A&M and Colorado each captured one Big 12 crown in the first 10 years of Big 12 action. Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado have each made four Big 12 title game appearances, while Nebraska and Kansas State have played in the the contest three times each.
Nebraska has won 43 football conference championships overall, including eight under Coach Bob Devaney and 13 under Coach Tom Osborne. Oklahoma has won 35 conference championships to rank second behind NU among conference schools.
Huskers Look to Add to All-America Tradition in 2006
In addition to pacing all Division I schools in academic All-Americans, Nebraska owns a long tradition of being among the nation’s leaders in All-Americans on the field. Nebraska’s most recent first-team All-Americans came in 2003, when punter Kyle Larson and free safety Josh Bullocks were each picked as first-team All-Americans. Larson and Bullocks added to Nebraska’s long list of All-Americans, beginning with tackle Vic Halligan in 1914.
The Huskers have had at least one first-team All-American in all but four (1991, 1998, 2004, 2005) of the past 36 years. Overall, Nebraska has seen 92 different players earn first-team All-America honors from at least one recognized source with 14 winning double honors for a total of 106 first-team awards. Nebraska had its most All-Americans in one season when six Huskers earned first-team honors in the 1971 national championship campaign. The offensive line is Nebraska’s most honored position, with 26 players earning 31 first-team All-America certificates.
Huskers Well-Represented in National Football League
Nebraska has a long-standing tradition of placing large numbers of players in the NFL. As of the start of NFL training camps, the Huskers had 41 players listed on rosters. Included in that group are four players who were selected in the 2006 NFL Draft–safety Daniel Bullocks (2nd round, Detroit), punter Sam Koch (6th, Baltimore), defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith (6th, New England) and defensive lineman Titus Adams (7th, N.Y. Jets).
Koch’s selection gives Nebraska two punters and two place-kickers in the NFL, with the combined four kickers the most of any school in the country. Nebraska’s most experienced NFL veteran is Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro offensive guard Will Shields, who is entering his 14th NFL campaign in 2006.