Huskers Square Off With Kansas in Big 12 Opener
Nebraska opens Big 12 Conference play this weekend against Kansas at Memorial Stadium, after capping the non-conference portion of its schedule with a resounding 56-0 victory over Troy at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Game time for the Big 12 North matchup against the Jayhawks is set for 6:10 p.m., with the game televised to a national audience by FSN.
The Huskers rolled up their best total offense mark in five seasons and posted their first shutout in three years to improve to 3-1 on the young season. The Huskers were impressive on both sides of the football in the game, scoring 14 points in each quarter, and not allowing Troy to mount a serious scoring threat. The victory allowed Nebraska to move up in this week’s national polls, as the Huskers are ranked 21st by the Associated Press and 21st in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Kansas will come to Lincoln with a 3-1 record after a 13-7 victory over South Florida on Saturday night in Lawrence. The only blemish on the Jayhawks’ record is a 37-31 double-overtime loss at Toledo on Sept. 15. In addition to their win over South Florida, the Jayhawks also downed Northwestern State and Louisiana-Monroe in non-league action.
Nebraska will be looking to notch a 19th straight victory over Kansas in Lincoln. The Huskers also hope to get back to their winning ways against the Jayhawks as Kansas’ 40-15 win last year in Lawrence ended a 36-game Husker win streak in the series. Nebraska and Kansas will resume the longest continuous series in the nation this weekend, meeting on the gridiron for the 101st consecutive season.
Nebraska Puts Together Complete Game in Rout of Troy
The Nebraska offense generated nearly 600 yards of total offense, including more than 400 in the first half alone, and the Blackshirts pitched their first shutout in three seasons as NU rolled to a 56-0 victory over Troy at Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
Sophomore I-back Marlon Lucky posted the best game of his career with 10 carries for career-highs of 156 yards and three touchdowns. Lucky’s night included successive career-long runs of 34, 45 and 51 yards all for touchdowns, capped by his 51-yard burst up the middle on his final carry to give the Huskers a 35-0 lead.
While Lucky carried the load for Nebraska’s balanced offensive attack, senior quarterback Zac Taylor propelled the Huskers through the air, completing 14-of-17 passes for 268 yards and one touchdown, despite playing only one series in the second half. Junior wide receiver Terrence Nunn enjoyed a career night as well with his first 100-yard receiving game, which included a 67-yard catch in the first half. While Lucky, Taylor and Nunn did the most damage in the first half, I-back Kenny Wilson added a career rushing night of his own with 106 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
The Huskers finished the night with 597 yards of total offense, including 316 yards on the ground and 281 yards passing. The Husker defense had a stellar night of its own limiting Troy to 140 yards of total offense, and posting Nebraska’s first shutout victory since a 28-0 win over Iowa State on Oct. 25, 2003. The win was also the Huskers’ most lopsided victory since a 59-0 pounding of Baylor on Oct. 21, 2000.
Nebraska established the ground game early, as Lucky carried five times for 51 yards, including a 34-yard TD run on the game’s opening drive to put the Huskers up 7-0 just 5:47 into the game. On Nebraska’s second drive, Taylor hit Nate Swift on a pair of long completions, including Swift’s career-long 49-yard catch. Taylor connected with J.B. Phillips for a six-yard touchdown to put the Huskers ahead 14-0 with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
Lucky struck again on Nebraska’s fourth possession, rushing 45 yards for a touchdown to cap a two-play, 81-yard drive, giving Nebraska a 21-0 edge. The Huskers capped the first half scoring on a five-yard TD run by Wilson for a 28-0 halftime edge. The Huskers finished the first half with 406 yards of total offense, including eight plays of 20 yards or more.
Lucky opened Nebraska’s second-half scoring barrage with his 51-yard touchdown run to give the Huskers a 35-0 edge. Nebraska continued to add individual milestones in the third quarter, when reserve quarterback Joe Ganz hooked up with reserve fullback Matt Senske for a one-yard touchdown with 6:21 left in the third quarter. Wilson and fellow I-back Brandon Jackson capped the scoring with touchdown runs in the final quarter, while Troy did not cross midfield in the second half.
The Huskers ground out six rushing touchdowns and had five different players score touchdowns for the third straight home game.
Noting Game Four...Nebraska 56, Troy 0
Nebraska improved to 4-0 all-time against Troy with the win, also picking up wins in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
This season marks the 25th straight year the Huskers have started with a 3-1 or 4-0 record through four games. The victory was also Nebraska’s 38th win in its last 39 non-conference home games.
Nebraska’a shutout was its first since a 28-0 shutout of Iowa State in 2003. NU had two shutouts that season, also blanking Troy 30-0. The 56-0 victory was NU’s most lopsided win since a 59-0 win over Baylor in 2000.
Nebraska senior quarterback Zac Taylor threw for 268 yards to move into fourth place on the NU career passing list with 3,525 yards, passing Turner Gill (3,317 yards, 1980-83) and Tommie Frazier (3,521 yards, 1992-95).
Taylor saw a streak of 83 straight passes without an interception end late in the second quarter. Taylor’s first interception of the season came on his fourth pass attempt of the opener against Louisiana Tech.
Taylor’s 67-yard second-quarter pass to Terrence Nunn was Nebraska’s longest offensive play of the season and the second-longest pass play of Taylor’s career, trailing only a 73-yard pass to Frantz Hardy against Maine last season.
Sophomore I-back Marlon Lucky rushed 10 times for a career-high 156 yards and three touchdowns. The three touchdowns marked the first time a Husker has had three TDs in a game since David Horne rushed for four touchdowns at Texas A&M in 2002.
Kenny Wilson finished with 106 yards on 19 carries for his first career 100-yard game. It marked the first time that Nebraska has had two 100-yard rushers since the 2004 season opener (Cory Ross and Tierre Green vs. Western Illinois) and the 64th time in school history that NU has had double 100-yard rushers.
Nebraska had eight plays of more than 20 yards in the first half, three by rush and five by pass. Of those plays, eight covered at least 30 yards and the eight plays totaled 301 yards. Nebraska finished the night with 10 plays of 20 yards or more (5 rush, 5 pass) after entering the game with 12 scrimmage plays of 20 yards or more, including two rushes.
Nebraska’s 406 yards of total offense in the first half was the most in a half under Coach Bill Callahan, and Nebraska’s most in the first half of a game since rolling up 416 yards in the first half of a 59-0 2000 win over Baylor. The school record for most yards in the first half is 508 against Arizona State in a 77-28 NU victory in 1995.
Nebraska finished with 597 yards of total offense, the most since amassing 688 yards of offense at Baylor in 2001. The Troy game marked the second time this year Nebraska has topped 500 yards of total offense (also 584 yards vs. Louisiana Tech). Nebraska has produced three of the five-highest total offense outputs in Bill Callahan’s three seasons as head coach in the first four games of the 2006 season.
Nebraska totaled at least 250 yards rushing and 250 yards passing for the second time this season with 316 yards rushing and 258 yards through the air. Prior to accomplishing the feat twice this season, NU had gone 10 years without rushing and passing for at least 250 yards in the same game.
Nebraska’s 316 rushing yards marked its highest single-game rushing total since rushing for 363 yards against Western Illinois in 2004.
Nebraska limited Troy to 140 yards of offense, the fewest by a Nebraska opponent since allowing just 84 yards against Baylor in 2000.
Terrence Nunn caught four passes for a career-high 102 yards. Nunn’s previous career high in receiving yards was 91 yards against Michigan in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. Nunn had a 67-yard reception late in the second quarter, his longest career reception. Nunn’s previous career-long reception was 55 yards at Kansas State in 2004.
Nunn has now had at least one reception in 17 straight games, the third-longest streak in Nebraska history, trailing Johnny Rodgers (37) and Matt Davison (20). Nunn moved up three spots to fifth on the Nebraska career receptions list at 73, passing Cory Ross (71 receptions, 2002-05) and Tim Smith (72, 1977-79).
Sophomore receiver Nate Swift caught a career-long 49-yard reception from Taylor on Nebraska’s second drive of the night, bettering his previous career-long catch of 34 yards against Kansas State last season.
Nebraska, Jayhawks Meeting for 101st Straight Season
Nebraska and Kansas renew one of the nation’s oldest rivalries this weekend. Saturday’s meeting will be the 113th all-time between the two schools, and the 59th all-time matchup in Lincoln.
The 113 meetings between the two schools makes NU-Kansas the third-longest series in Division I-A, trailing only Minnesota-Wisconsin (116th meeting on Oct. 14) and KU-Missouri (115th meeting on Nov. 25).
Saturday’s game marks the 101st straight year the two schools have met, making the NU-KU series the longest continuous series in the country. The schools have met every season since 1906.
Huskers Look to Start New Winning Streak Against Kansas
Nebraska saw its 36-game win streak in the series end last year in Lawrence, when KU defeated the Huskers, 40-15. The 36-game win streak was the second-longest in Division I-A, trailing only Notre Dame’s winning streak against Navy.
Last year’s Kansas victory reversed a long history of Nebraska dominance in the series.
The Huskers scored 40 or more points in 26 of the 36 games in the winning streak, while holding Kansas to single digits 24 times in the 36-game winning streak, including 10 Nebraska shutouts.
The Jayhawks scored just 25 combined points in the four meetings between 2001 and 2004, but last year’s 40-point outburst was the most ever by a Kansas team against Nebraska.
Despite last year’s win in Lawrence, Nebraska still holds a dominant run against the Jayhawks in Lincoln.
The Huskers have won the past 18 matchups against Kansas in Lincoln, dating back to a 23-13 Kansas win in 1968.
Nebraska has scored 41 points or more in 11 of the past 13 meetings against Kansas in Lincoln, while Kansas has been limited to single digits in 12 of its past 17 visits to Lincoln.
In Nebraska’s 18-game win streak in Lincoln, the Huskers have outscored Kansas by an average score of 42.7-8.1.
NU Has History of Success in Conference Openers
Nebraska has a long-standing tradition of opening conference play on a positive note. The Huskers have won 30 of their past 31 conference openers since 1975, with the only blemish a 2002 loss at Iowa State. Last season, Nebraska opened Big 12 play with a 27-20 double-overtime victory over Iowa State in Lincoln. In Coach Bill Callahan’s first season in 2004, Nebraska began conference play with a 14-8 win over Kansas in Lincoln.
In addition, Nebraska has won its last 28 conference home openers since a 24-21 setback against Iowa State to begin the 1977 home Big Eight campaign. Nebraska is 90-18-2 all-time in conference openers, including a 40-6-1 mark in Lincoln. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, Nebraska is 9-1 in league openers.
2006 Husker Offense Showing Balance and Explosiveness
Nebraska has featured excellent balance on offense through the non-conference portion of its 2006 schedule. The Huskers’ blowout home victories over Louisiana Tech, Nicholls State and Troy have each produced one of the most impressive offensive efforts in recent years.
The Huskers rolled up 584 yards of total offense, including 252 rushing yards and 332 yards through the air in a 49-10 victory over Louisiana Tech in week one. In defeating Nicholls State 56-7, Nebraska was again extremely effective on offense, piling up 498 total yards–261 on the ground and 237 through the air. In a 56-0 shutout of Troy, Nebraska posted a season-high 597 yards of total offfense, the most by a Nebraska team in five seasons.
Through four games, Nebraska stacks up well nationally on offense. The Huskers rank second nationally in scoring offense (42.8 ppg), sixth in total offense (472.5 ypg), 10th in rushing offense (224.3 ypg) and 26th in passing offense (248.3 ypg). Nebraska is one of just six teams in the nation to rank in the top 30 in rushing offense, passing offense and total offense, joining Big 12 North foe Missouri, Louisville, Oregon, Arizona State and Washington State.
The Huskers’ 2006 offense has shown the explosiveness and efficiency Head Coach Bill Callahan is seeking in Nebraska’s version of the West Coast Offense.
The 597 yards of total offense against Troy were the most by Nebraska in Callahan’s three seasons as head coach, and the most since a 688-yard effort at Baylor in 2001. Nebraska has had three of its top five offensive outputs under Callahan in 2006, including a 584-yard effort against Louisiana Tech.
Against Louisiana Tech, Nebraska topped 250 yards in both rushing and passing for the first time in a decade (Kansas, 1996). It took Nebraska exactly three weeks to accomplish the feat again, as the Huskers rushed for 316 yards and passed for 281 yards against Troy.
The Huskers have produced three of their top six rushing efforts under Callahan in the season’s first four games, with 316 yards against Troy, 261 yards against Nicholls State and 252 vs. Louisiana Tech. Before the 316-yard outburst against Troy, Nebraska last topped 300 yards on the ground against Western Illinois in 2004.
Nebraska’s back-to-back 250-yard rushing efforts to open the season marked the first time NU had topped 250 yards on the ground in consecutive games since 2004 (Western Illinois and Southern Miss).
With an impressive running attack, Nebraska has shown the ability to control the clock. NU has held the ball 55.7 percent of the first four games (33:25 to 26:35). Nebraska has run 282 offensive plays to 222 for its opponents. Last year Nebraska averaged 29:56 of possession time per game.
The Huskers are an impressive 30-of-53 (57 percent) on third-down conversions, including 11-of-16 against Louisiana Tech and 7-for-11 vs. Troy.
Nebraska racked up 30 first downs in each of its first two games, the first time the Huskers had back-to-back games with 30 first downs since the 2001 season (Texas Tech, Baylor). On the year, Nebraska has 48 first downs by rush, 44 by pass and three by penalty.
Nebraska has spread the wealth on offense. Thirteen different players have scored touchdowns, with seven different players scoring TDs in each of the first two games.
In wins over Louisiana Tech and Nicholls State, Nebraska topped 49 points in consecutive games for the first time since 2000, when Nebraska topped 49 points in three straight games at mid-season (Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor).
The Husker offense left an impression on Troy Head Coach Larry Blakeney following the 56-0 NU win...
"That is the best football team we have faced in a long time. I don’t know what they call that offense, if it is West Coast or East Coast or South Coast or Canadian or whatever, but it was very well-designed and gave us more than we could handle. Their style of play and their physical approach and their ability with Zac Taylor to throw the football down the field really gave us more than we could handle."
Memorial Stadium Fireworks
Nebraska ranks second nationally in scoring offense at 42.8 points per game, thanks primarily to an impressive offensive output in home victories over Louisiana Tech, Nicholls State and Troy. Nebraska has been remarkably consistent and explosive on offense in its three games in Lincoln.
Nebraska scored 14 points in each quarter against Nicholls State and Troy, giving the Huskers a streak of nine straight quarters at home with 14 or more points, including 21 in the final quarter against Louisana Tech. NU has scored at least one touchdown in all 12 quarters at home this season.
Nebraska has scored at least 49 points in three straight home games to open the season. The last time Nebraska scored 49 or more points in three straight home games was in 1996, when NU defeated Baylor (49-0), Kansas (63-7) and Missouri (51-7). This marks only the third time in school history Nebraska has scored 49 or more points in each of its first three home games (1996, 1974).
Dating back to last season, Nebraska has scored at least 24 points in seven straight home games.
Quarterback Taylor is Poised Leader of Nebraska Offense
Senior quarterback Zac Taylor is the man at the helm of Nebraska’s offense. The 6-2, 210-pound Taylor had a record-setting 2005 campaign, and has established himself early this season as an All-Big 12 candidate. Through four games, Taylor has shown why he is on track to re-write nearly all of Nebraska’s passing records. Among his notable accomplishments are....
Taylor has completed 70.8 percent of his passes (63-of-89) with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Taylor’s pass efficiency rating through four games is 178.26, which ranks third in the country. His pass efficiency rating against Nicholls State (213.77) was the eighth-best in school history.
Taylor’s four touchdown passes against Nicholls State were a career high, bettering the three touchdown passes in his previous two games (Louisiana Tech, Michigan). In Nebraska’s five-game winning streak that ended at USC, Taylor threw for 14 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
In week one, Taylor had a streak of 11 straight completions, including eight straight completions for 98 yards in engineering a two-minute drive before halftime. Against Nicholls State, Taylor’s first pass attempt fell incomplete, but he completed his next 12 pass attempts before an incompletion. The 12 straight completions were three off the Nebraska school record. He opened the Troy game by completing 12 of his first 13 attempts.
Taylor had a streak of 83 straight passes without an interception end in the second quarter against Troy.
The 287 passing yards against Louisiana Tech marked the third-highest total of his Nebraska career. He has nine career games with 200 or more passing yards (three in 2006), including seven of the past 10 games.
Taylor has completed passes to 11 different receivers, and thrown TD passes to six different Huskers.
Taylor has continued his ascension up the Nebraska career passing chart. He now has 3,525 career passing yards to rank fourth on the NU career list. He is 1,510 yards from the school career passing record of 5,035 yards set by Dave Humm from 1972 to 1974.
A year after throwing 19 touchdown passes (one off the school record), Taylor appears poised to challenge for the season record in 2006 with eight TD passes through four games. Taylor has 27 career touchdown passes, 16 away from the school record of 43 touchdown passes by Tommie Frazier from 1992 to 1995. Taylor’s streak of at least one touchdown pass in 11 straight games ended in a 28-10 loss at USC.
Last season, Taylor shattered several game and season passing records in his first year after transferring from Butler County Community College in Kansas. Among the top accomplishments for Taylor in 2005 were:
Taylor's 2,653 passing yards established a NU single-season record, shattering the previous single-season NU record of 2,074 yards by 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 had the top two single-game passing totals in NU history with 431 yards vs. Iowa State and 392 yards at Colorado. All four individual 300-yard passing days in NU history have come with Bill Callahan as head coach.
Taylor threw for two or more touchdown passes in eight of the season’s final nine games, including a season-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.
Husker I-Backs Having Productive "Committee" Meetings
Entering the 2006 season both Head Coach Bill Callahan and running backs coach Randy Jordan regularly indicated Nebraska would utilize the talents of all four of its I-backs and operate with use of a "committee." The first three games have proven that it was a solid plan, as four Husker I-backs have combined for 160 carries for 904 yards and 13 touchdowns.
All four backs have gotten into the act, with each of them having at least 23 carries, and three different backs have led NU in rushing this season. Each of the four scored a touchdown in the first two games. Together the group has keyed a resurgent Nebraska rushing attack.
Nebraska opened the year with 252 yards on the ground against Louisiana Tech, then churned out 261 rushing yards in a 56-7 rout of Nicholls State. The Huskers erupted for their top rushing output of the year with 316 yards and six rushing touchdowns in a 56-0 win over Troy. Nebraska is averaging 224.3 yards per game on the ground to rank 10th in the nation.
The three rushing efforts are all among the top six in Bill Callahan’s three seasons. In 2005, Nebraska averaged less than 100 yards on the ground, and its top rushing effort was 182 yards at Baylor. Additionally, Nebraska has produced 14 rushing touchdowns through four games in 2006. A year ago, Nebraska rushed for 10 touchdowns in 12 games.
Sophomore Marlon Lucky, a native of North Hollywood, Calif., has started the first four games and paced the NU rushing attack. Lucky produced his first career 100-yard rushing game against Nicholls State with 18 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown, then had a career-best 156 yards on just 10 carries against Troy. Lucky had three touchdown runs of at least 34 yards against the Trojans, and has a team-high 365 rushing yards. The 15.6 per-carry average was the best for a Husker with at least 10 carries in a game since Damon Benning registered 173 yards on 10 carries against Pacific in 1995. Lucky also has six catches for 69 yards out of the backfield.
Junior Kenny Wilson joined the Huskers as a highly touted junior college prospect. Through four games, Wilson has a team-high 62 carries for 278 yards. He scored his first career touchdown on a 14-yard run against Nicholls State, and had his first career 100-yard game with 106 yards on 19 carries against Troy.
Sophomore Cody Glenn is Nebraska’s power back. The 6-0, 230-pound Glenn rushed 13 times for a team-high 88 yards against Louisiana Tech, then added 47 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries against Nicholls State. He missed the Troy game with an injury.
Junior Brandon Jackson had a standout freshman year in 2004 when he rushed for 390 yards, but was slowed by injury last season. This fall he has carried 23 times for 126 yards, including a spectacular 25-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Louisiana Tech. He is also Nebraska’s top receiving threat out of the backfield with seven receptions for 61 yards.
Both Lucky (156) and Wilson (106) topped the century mark against Troy, marking the first time Nebraska has had two 100-yard rushers in the same game since 2004 against Western Illinois, the first game of Bill Callahan’s tenure at Nebraska.
Return of Herian Gives Passing Game Another Dimension
Senior tight end Matt Herian has made a strong return to the field in 2006. The 6-5, 245-pound Herian missed all of the 2005 season while recovering from a broken leg he suffered against Missouri in the eighth game of 2004. Herian’s return has helped give quarterback Zac Taylor another impressive target in the Husker passing game.
Through four games, Herian has hauled in eight passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. In the process, Herian has resumed his assault on the Nebraska tight end record book. Against Louisiana Tech, Herian moved past Tracey Wistrom into first on the tight end career receiving yardage list. Herian enters the Kansas game with 1,228 career receiving yards.
He had four receptions against Nicholls State, and his 36-yard catch at USC moved his career total to 61 catches, tying Jerry List for the most receptions by a Nebraska tight end. Herian’s receptions total is tied for 13th-best among all Huskers, and just five catches from the top 10. Herian has also continued to show his big-play ability. The senior has two receptions fo 25 yards or more this season and 15 catches of that length in his career.
Herian was not the only tight end to make headlines in the opener against Louisiana Tech. After a first-quarter touchdown catch by Herian, three of Herian’s tight end teammates got into the act in the second half as juniors J.B. Phillips and Josh Mueller, and sophomore Hunter Teafatiller all reached the end zone.
The tight end outburst was quite notable...
The four touchdowns against Louisiana Tech tied a Nebraska single-game record for touchdowns by a tight end (also 4 at Missouri in 1987).
The game marked the first time in school history four different tight ends caught touchdown passes.
Nebraska tight ends did not have a TD catch in 2005. The previous touchdown catch by a Husker tight end was by Herian in the second game of the 2004 season against Southern Miss.
The four tight ends combined for eight receptions for 108 yards and four touchdowns in the opener and have 19 catches for 223 yards and six touchdowns in 2006.
Wide Receiver Tandem Looking for Another Big Season
Quarterback Zac Taylor’s two favorite targets from the 2005 season–receivers Terrence Nunn and Nate Swift–are back in 2006 and will again be key elements in the Husker offense.
A year ago, 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. Through four games, Nunn leads Nebraska with 14 receptions (209 yards), while Swift has six receptions for 125 yards.
Both players are quickly moving up the career pass receptions list. Nunn now ranks fifth with 73 career receptions, one catch behind No. 4 Guy Ingles.
In 2005, Swift and Nunn were the most productive single-season pass catching duo in Nebraska history.
Swift did not catch a pass in the first three games of 2005, but exploded at the start of conference play. He had five receptions against Iowa State, then had consecutive nine-reception efforts against Missouri and Oklahoma. He finished the year with 45 receptions for 641 yards and seven touchdowns, all Husker freshman records. His 45 catches were the most by a player in 33 seasons and the third-most ever by a Husker. Swift had caught at least two passes in 10 straight games before being held without catches by Nicholls State and USC.
Nunn caught at least one pass in all 12 games of his sophomore season in 2005, including nine games with three or more receptions. Entering the Kansas game he has caught at least one pass in 17 straight games, the third-longest streak in Nebraska history.
Like Swift, Nunn also caught seven touchdown passes from Taylor in 2005, 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.
The 2005 season marked the first time in school history Nebraska had three players with 40 or more catches in a single season.
Senior Bookends Carriker, Moore Hope to Lead Blackshirt "Sack Attack" to Encore
Nebraska led the nation in sacks and tackles for loss in 2005, registering 50 sacks and 140 tackles for loss. That effort helped the Huskers finish in the top 30 nationally in total defense, rushing defense, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense.
The Huskers entered the 2006 season with hopes of again making a push for the school single-season sack record of 53, set in1999. The Huskers returned players who accounted for 34.5 of the 50 sacks in 2005, led by dominant senior defensive ends Adam Carriker and Jay Moore, who set the tone for 2006 by each recording first-quarter sacks against Louisiana Tech.
The 6-6, 295-pound Carriker, a pre-season All-American and Lombardi candidate, snuffed out the Bulldogs’ first drive of the game with a seven-yard sack on third down. The sack gave Carriker 14.5 career sacks, just outside of the Nebraska top 10 list. Carriker earned All-Big 12 honors in 2005 when he led the team with 9.5 sacks from his base end position.
Through four games, Carriker is among the leaders of a balanced Nebraska defense with 14 tackles, including four tackles for loss and a sack.
A native of Elkhorn, Neb., Moore lines up opposite Carriker at the open end spot. The 6-4, 280-pound Moore made a two-yard tackle for loss on Lousiana Tech’s first play of the opener, then added a 10-yard sack later in the first quarter to thwart another Bulldog drive. He added his second sack of the season against Troy. Moore has eight total tackles and is tied with Carriker for second on the the team with four TFL for 22 yards in losses.
In addition to Carriker and Moore, Nebraska’s top sack threats also include junior middle linebacker Corey McKeon who had seven sacks in 2005, and fellow end Barry Turner who had a Nebraska freshman record six sacks on his way to frosh All-America honors in 2005. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh leads Nebraska in sacks this season with 2.5 for 23 yards in losses, all in the past two games.
The 2006 Blackshirts are poised to put together the best two-year sack total in school history. 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.
Veteran Linebacking Corps Tackling Opponents
In addition to a strong front four anchored by Moore and Carriker, Nebraska has a talented and veteran group of linebackers, giving the Blackshirts one of the nation’s best front seven units.
The Huskers featured returning starters at all three linebacker spots for 2006–senior Sam linebacker Stewart Bradley, junior Mike linebacker Corey McKeon and junior Will linebacker Bo Ruud. The trio had 99, 98 and 97 career tackles, respectively, entering 2006, and have started a combined 49 games in their career.
The three players are continuing to rack up impressive tackle numbers in 2006, ranking as three of the Huskers’ top four tacklers through four games.
Bradley posted his second career double-figure tackle game with a team-high 10 stops at USC. Bradley also forced a fumble in the game after recovering two fumbles the previous week against Nicholls State. The 6-4, 250-pound Bradley is tied for the team lead with 21 tackles.
McKeon burst onto the scene last year with a team-leading 98 tackles, including 22 tackles for loss, the second-most in Nebraska history. After opening with a pair of four-tackle efforts, McKeon had nine tackles against USC and is tied with Bradley and safety Tierre Green for the team lead in tackles with 21.
Ruud also had nine tackles at USC and is tied for fourth on the team with 18 total tackles. Ruud finished 2005 as Nebraska’s second leading tackler behind McKeon. Ruud picked off a pass in the season opener for the second straight year, returning his pick against Louisiana Tech 14 yards.
Juniors Steve Octavien and Lance Brandenburgh each have one career start and give Nebraska five linebackers with significant game experience.
Huskers Closing in on Win No. 800 in 117th Season of Storied Program
Nebraska is in its 117th season of college football in 2006, and is the fourth-winningest program in terms of victories. The Huskers own a 797-322-40 all-time record in 1,159 games (.705) in 117 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, squared off earlier this season.
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, and conference and national championships.
In the past 37 seasons (including 2006), beginning with 1970, Nebraska has posted a remarkable 363 victories, an average of 10 wins per season. The Huskers’ overall record in that time period is 363-81-5 for an .814 winning percentage in 449 games.
In that time span, Nebraska has easily established itself as the nation’s winningest program, posting 28 more victories than second-place Michigan, followed by Ohio State (326), Oklahoma (325), and Penn State (321).
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.
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 Husker Seniors Playing 2006 Season as Graduate Students
Kurt Mann and Dane Todd are among a group of four Husker seniors who are playing the 2006 season as graduate students. Senior safety Andrew Shanle and senior cornerback 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.
2006 Schedule to Provide Nebraska with Stern Test
Nebraska is facing a challenging schedule in 2006. Earlier this month the Huskers faced their first ranked opponent of the season, squaring off against No. 4 USC on the road. The Trojans are one of seven Husker opponents that won seven or more games last season and one of six 2005 bowl teams on Nebraska’s schedule.
Nebraska faces the challenge of taking on both of last year’s national championship game participants with last week’s game 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 and Nicholls State posted winning seasons in 2005.
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 led to a significant change in Nebraska’s pre-game routine. The Huskers’ famous "Tunnel Walk" now concludes with the team entering the field from the Northwest Corner of Tom Osborne Field. After a path of red FieldTurf leads the Huskers to the field, Nebraska enters after large bronze gates are opened. The gates feature images of six of the greatest Huskers from the 1890s to the 1960s, and are guarded each week by two military members.
The football program benefitted in numerous ways from the project, and Nebraska fans 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 Athletic Complex and new and improved handicapped seating. Nebraska received more than 15,000 requests for the 6,500 seats in less than three weeks. Nebraska set a Memorial Stadium record with 85,181 fans for the Louisiana Tech game.
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.
Bigger Memorial Stadium Continues to Be Packed
Nebraska’s Sept. 23 win over Troy marked the 278th 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 278 consecutive sellouts easily outdistance Notre Dame, which ranks second nationally with 185 consecutive sellouts. Nebraska has had remarkable success during the sellout streak, posting a 245-33 record during the 278 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, there are a few more folks dressed in red packing Memorial Stadium this season. Capacity at Memorial Stadium is 81,067, with the addition of 6,500 new seats in the North Stadium. The Louisiana Tech game featured a stadium record crowd of 85,181, the sixth-largest crowd to see Nebraska play. (see left margin)
Nebraska had 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. The crowd of 92,000 at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Sept. 16 was the second-largest crowd Nebraska has played in front of in the regular season.
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 113-10 at home in the last 18 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 (244 games), and has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons. The Huskers are 480-129-20 (.779, 629 games, 117 years) in Lincoln, 355-106-13 (.763, 474 games, 84 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.
Nebraska entered 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 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. When final rosters were determined, Nebraska had 31 players on active rosters and one player on a practice squad. Nebraska’s 31 players on active rosters led the Big 12 Conference, one more than Texas and two more than Oklahoma.
Included in the group of players on NFL rosters 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), who is on the practice squad. In addition, running back Cory Ross, a non-drafted free agent is on the Ravens’ opening day roster.
Koch’s roster spot 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 in his 14th NFL campaign in 2006. A full listing of Nebraska’s players in the NFL is included in the left margin.
Misc. 2006 Notes...
Nicholls State did not complete a pass in the Sept. 9 game against Nebraska, marking the 10th time in school history Nebraska has held an opponent without a pass completion, and the first time since 1992 against Oklahoma State.
The loss at USC marked the first time under Bill Callahan that Nebraska has lost when scoring first in a game. NU is 11-1 in such games under Callahan.
The 28 points scored by USC were the fewest by the Trojans since also scoring 28 points against Oregon State in November of 2004 (19 games). It also ended a streak of 15 straight games with 30 or more points and a streak of 10 straight home games with 38 or more points.