Huskers Face Road Test at Texas Tech
Nebraska takes to the road for the first time in conference play this Saturday evening when the Huskers tangle with Texas Tech in a 6 p.m. game in Lubbock. The contest from Texas Tech’s Jones SBC Stadium will be televised to a national audience by TBS.
The Huskers enter this weekend’s game with a 3-1 record and a 1-0 mark in the Big 12 following a tough 14-8 victory over Kansas last Saturday evening in Lincoln. The Husker defense had another strong outing, allowing Nebraska to overcome four turnovers, including three after halftime. The victory allowed the Huskers to win their conference opener for the 29th time in the last 30 years.
Nebraska faces a tough battle if it plans to make it two-for-two in conference play. Texas Tech enters Saturday night’s game with a 3-2 overall mark and a 1-1 record in Big 12 action. The Red Raiders dropped an early-season game at New Mexico, but rebounded to win two straight, including a 31-30 win at Kansas in their Big 12 opener two weeks ago. This past Saturday, Texas Tech tested second-ranked Oklahoma in Norman, before falling 28-13.
The NU-Texas Tech matchup will be the first between the schools since 2001. The Huskers have dominated the all-time series, winning each of the seven previous meetings, including a 3-0 record against Tech in Lubbock.
Huskers Open Conference Action with Hard-Fought Victory over Kansas
Nebraska relied on a stingy defensive performance and the steady play of junior running back Cory Ross to defeat Kansas, 14-8, and improve to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12 Conference. The victory extended Nebraska’s winning streak against Kansas to 36 consecutive games and marked the Huskers’ 29th victory in its past 30 conference openers.
Ross produced his third 100-yard rushing effort of 2004, leading the Huskers with 107 yards rushing on 19 carries and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 37 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that gave Nebraska the lead for good. Junior wide receiver Ross Pilkington also turned in a notable performance, racking up 113 yards on eight receptions, both career highs. Meanwhile, the Blackshirts did not allow a KU touchdown and held the Jayhawks to 305 yards and just 149 in the second half. Junior cornerback Fabian Washington recorded his third interception of the season, and the Husker defense totaled 17 pass breakups, including six by Washington and four by junior safety Daniel Bullocks.
Trailing 8-7 midway through the third quarter, the Huskers took the lead for good with an eight-play, 77-yard scoring drive. NU quarterback Joe Dailey hit Pilkington with a 37-yard pass to get Nebraska moving, then capped the drive by connecting with Ross on the 14-yard scoring pass.
Nebraska never found an offensive rhythm, as its last drive of the third quarter ended with a fumble by Pilkington, and the Huskers’ first two drives of the fourth quarter ended with Dailey interceptions. KU’s Rodney Harris ran the second pick back 25 yards, and the KU offense took over at the NU 26. Once again, the Blackshirts came up big. Daniel Bullocks broke up a pass intended for Gary Heaggans near the end zone on third-and-8. KU elected to go for it on fourth down, but quarterback Adam Barmann threw an incomplete pass, ending the scoring threat. The Jayhawks did not mount a serious scoring threat on their final two drives. Linebacker Barrett Ruud thrwarted a fake punt attempt by KU, and a desperation pass on the game’s final play fell to the ground, ensuring the Husker victory.
The Husker offense ended the game with 322 yards of total offense but turned the ball over four times. Dailey was 16-for-24 through the air, throwing one touchdown and three interceptions.
Kansas capitalized on an NU miscue on the second play of the game to take a 2-0 lead. A bad pitch by Dailey at the Nebraska 8-yard line rolled into the end zone. KU extended the lead to 5-0 on a 36-yard field goal by Johnny Beck with 10:47 remaining in the half. Nebraska took its first lead of the game after a five-play, 47-yard drive capped by an 18-yard scoring run by Ross. Kansas reclaimed the lead in the third quarter on a 39-yard field goal by Beck with 6:59 remaining.
Recapping Game Four...Nebraska 14, Kansas 8
The win marked NU’s 29th win in its last 30 conference openers and its 27th straight win in a conference home opener.
The Huskers extended their winning streak over Kansas to 36 games, dating back to 1969. Nebraska’s 36-game win streak over the Jayhawks is the second-longest streak in the nation, trailing only Notre Dame’s 40 straight victories over Navy. Saturday’s victory was the Huskers’ 18th straight victory over Kansas in Lincoln, while the six-point margin of victory was the closest in the series since a 21-20 Husker win in Lawrence on Nov. 6, 1993.
The 22 combined points were the lowest in the series since 1975, a 16-0 Nebraska victory. The 22 combined points were also the fewest in any NU regular-season game since a 19-0 loss at Arizona State in 1996.
I-back Cory Ross rushed 19 times for 107 yards, marking his third 100-yard game in four contests this season. The 107 yards also marked Ross’ second 100-yard game against the Jayhawks, after he picked up 108 yards on 19 carries in last year’s 24-3 victory at Kansas for his first career 100-yard rushing game. Ross now has six career 100-yard rushing games, all in Nebraska’s past eight contests.
Ross’ third-quarter touchdown reception was the first of his career, and his 37 receiving yards are the most of his Nebraska career (previous high was 32 against Western Illinois).
Junior receiver Ross Pilkington caught eight passes for 113 yards, both career highs. Pilkington has 13 catches in the past two games, including five receptions at Pittsburgh. The 113-yard effort marked Nebraska’s first 100-yard receiving game since Matt Herian hauled in three receptions for 110 yards last season against Troy State. His 113 yards were the most by a Husker wide receiver since Matt Davison had 167 yards on 10 catches at Texas A&M on Oct. 10, 1998.
Cornerback Fabian Washington had a first-quarter interception, his team-leading third of 2004 and the 11th of his career. His 11 picks are tied for fourth on the Husker career charts. Washington also broke up six passes, the secon-most in school history, pushing his career total to 31, good for fifth on the Husker career list.
Linebacker Barrett Ruud had 15 tackles to increase his career total to 335 tackles, just seven tackles behind NU career leader Jerry Murtaugh who recorded 342 tackles from 1968 to 1970. Ruud’s 15 stops marked the 15th time in his career that Ruud reached double figures in tackles, while his 10 solo tackles were a season best.
Stewart Bradley turned in a career night with 12 tackles, surpassing his previous best of seven vs. Southern Miss.
Kansas rushed for 105 yards as the Jayhawks became the first team to rush for over 100 yards against the NU defense since Kansas State last season. Nebraska held KU without a rushing touchdown, as the Blackshirts have not allowed a rushing TD in 24 quarters, dating back to the fourth quarter against Kansas State last season. The 29-yard third-quarter run by Kansas’ John Randle was the longest against Nebraska this season. Nebraska had not allowed a run of 20 yards or longer in its previous five games dating back to last season.
Nebraska held KU to 3-of-19 on third down conversions, and opponents have converted 31 percent (18 of 58) of their third down attempts in 2004.
Tight end Matt Herian caught one pass for eight yards, moving his career receiving yardage total to 999 yards. The junior is just one yard short of becoming the 12th Husker to surpass 1,000 career receiving yards and just the third tight end. Herian now has 47 career receptions, the fifth-most career receptions by a Nebraska tight end.
Huskers Hit the Road For First Time in Conference Play
Nebraska has traditionally had strong success when playing its conference road opener. The Huskers have dropped their last two Big 12 road openers–2003 at Missouri, 2002 at Iowa State–but have won 26 of their last 30 conference road openers dating back to 1974. Saturday’s game at Texas Tech will mark the third time since the formation of the Big 12 Conference that Nebraska has played its first conference road game in the state of Texas. Nebraska won 49-21 at Baylor in 1997, and dropped a 28-21 decision at Texas A&M in 1998.
Scouting the Texas Tech Red Raiders
Nebraska travels to Lubbock, Texas, for its first road conference game of the season this weekend where it will face the high-flying Texas Tech Red Raiders. TTU enters the contest with a 3-2 record and 1-1 mark in Big 12 Conference play after dropping a 28-13 contest at No. 2 Oklahoma last weekend.
Texas Tech comes into the game leading the nation in passing offense (423.0 ypg) and ranks fourth in total offense (516.2 ypg). In his first season as a starter, Red Raider quarterback Sonny Cumbie has passed for 2,085 yards while completing 60.8 percent of his pass attempts through five games. Cumbie has tossed 11 scoring strikes and given away 11 interceptions while averaging an NCAA-best 417 passing yards per game.
Sophomore receiver Jarrett Hicks has been Cumbie’s most likely target, as they have hooked up 39 times with Hicks gaining 716 yards and four touchdowns. Hicks leads the nation in receiving yards per game (143.2 ypg) and is fifth nationally in receptions per game (7.8 rpg).
On the ground, junior Taurean Henderson, a 5-9, 205-pounder, has gained nearly 80 yards per game and paces the squad with six rushing touchdowns. Henderson is also third on the squad with 24 catches and leads the team in scoring with 36 points.
Defensively, the Red Raiders have been led by senior linebacker Mike Smith, who paces the squad with 42 tackles. Senior defensive end Adell Duckett has gained a team-best 4.5 tackles for loss and owns one of TTU’s four sacks. The Red Raiders have allowed 26.6 points and 332.2 total offense yards per game, including 152 yards per contest on the ground. TTU has recorded four interceptions and 10 total turnovers in five games.
Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach
Coach Mike Leach is in his fifth season guiding the Red Raiders and owns a 34-23 career record, including an 0-2 mark against the Huskers. Leach, who also serves as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, has pushed the Red Raiders to four straight bowl appearances and four consecutive seasons with at least seven wins, including a 9-5 campaign in 2002.
Under Leach’s guidance, the Red Raiders have set 149 individual or team records since 2000, including numerous passing game records. Last season, quarterback B.J. Symons set the school record with 661 passing yards in a game against Mississippi and went on to set the NCAA mark for passing yards in a season with 5,833.
Leach had a little familiarity with the Big 12 Conference before taking over the Red Raider program, as he was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 1999. He also called the offensive alignments for Kentucky in 1997 and 1998 after spending five seasons at Valdosta (Ga.) State.
Nebraska-Texas Tech Series...NU leads, 7-0
The matchup between the Huskers and Red Raiders will be just the eighth in the series, and the first since the 2001 campaign. Nebraska has won the first seven meetings in the series, including earning a 3-0 mark in Lubbock.
The contest will be the fifth between the schools since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996. Nebraska has held the Red Raiders to 10 or fewer points three times in the last four meetings.
Texas Tech recorded its series-high point total in the last meeting in 2001, when it dropped a 41-31 contest in Lincoln. Quarterback Eric Crouch, who became Nebraska’s third Heisman Trophy winner that season, passed for 196 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 105 yards and one score in the win. Kliff Kingsbury gained 353 yards on 33-of-63 passing, but had just one scoring toss for TTU.
Nebraska Hopes for More Success in West Texas
The Huskers have had good success in their three previous trips to Lubbock to meet Texas Tech. The first meeting between the two teams at Jones SBC Stadium was a non-conference matchup during Nebraska’s 1994 national championship season that saw the Huskers come out on top, 42-16. In their two meetings in Lubbock as members of the Big 12 Conference, Nebraska defeated the Red Raiders 24-10 in 1996 and 56-3 in 2000.
Nebraska has put together three strong defensive efforts in their previous trips to Lubbock holding the Red Raiders under 300 yards in each of the three games. Texas Tech has managed just one offensive touchdown in the three meetings between the two schools in Lubbock, including none in the two meetings as Big 12 foes.
Huskers-Texas Tech to Feature Strength vs. Strength
Saturday night’s matchup will feature one of the nation’s most explosive offenses in Texas Tech against Nebraska’s defense, which has been one of the nation’s stingiest early in the season. The key statistical matchups in Saturday’s contest include...
Texas Tech’s top-ranked passing offense (423.0 ypg) vs. Nebraska’s pass defense which ranks sixth in pass efficiency defense
The Red Raiders rank fourth in total offense (516.2 ypg), while Nebraska is first in the Big 12 and fifth nationally in total defense (255.5 ypg)
Both teams hope to take better care of the football than they have early this season. Nebraska ranks 11th in the Big 12 and 105th nationally in turnover margin at -1.25 per game, while Texas Tech is 10th in the league and 93rd nationally at -1.0 per game. The Huskers and Texas Tech have each thrown 11 interceptions this season to tie for the most in the nation.
No Running, Please
The Nebraska Blackshirt defense has quickly established itself as one of the nation’s top units in 2004. The Huskers rank first in the Big 12 and fifth nationally in total defense, allowing 255.5 yards per game. The Huskers also lead the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and rushing defense.
Nebraska’s defense has been especially dominant against the run. The Huskers are allowing just 57.3 yards per game, second to national leader Michigan (47.2 ypg). Overall, the Husker defense has succeeded in its goal of making opposing offenses one-dimensional.
Nebraska joins Wisconsin and Auburn as the only teams in the nation that have not allowed a rushing touchdown in 2004. The Huskers streak of not allowing a rushing touchdown stretches 24 quarters to the fourth quarter of last year’s matchup with Kansas State.
The Huskers are allowing just 1.82 yards per rush, second in the country to Michigan. Nebraska and the Wolverines are the only defenses in the nation allowing less than two yards per rush.
Kansas rushed for 105 yards against Nebraska to end NU’s five-game streak of holding opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. The Huskers had held Western Illinois to minus-three yards rushing, Southern Miss to 97 yards and Pittsburgh to just 30 yards rushing to open the season.
The Jayhawks’ John Randle had a 29-yard run vs. the Blackshirts last Saturday. The run was the longest by an opponent this season and is the only rush of 20 yards or more against Nebraska this fall.
The effort against Western Illinois marked the 19th time in school history the Huskers held an opponent to negative rushing yards.
Part of Nebraska’s rush defense excellence has been the negative yardage piled up as a result of sacks. The Huskers have recorded 12 sacks this season, including two each by junior defensive end Wali Muhammad, senior cornerback Lornell McPherson and sophomore defensive end Adam Carriker. The Huskers have 35 total tackles for loss, led by a team-high five by senior All-America candidate Barrett Ruud (12 yards).
2004 Blackshirts Exhibit Same Ball-Hawking Ability
Nebraska’s Blackshirt defense has a well-deserved reputation as traditionally being one of the nation’s most dominant defenses. The current group of Blackshirts are no different and have shown a special knack for taking the ball away from the opposition. Last season, the Husker defense had 47 takeaways, the second-best total in the country. The takeaways helped Nebraska to a nation-best +1.77 turnover margin in 2003.
The 47 takeaways last season tied the Nebraska school record, also set in 1972, while Nebraska’s 32 interceptions set a school record. Last season continued a long trend of Nebraska being among the nation’s best in the turnover department. Over the past 30 years, Nebraska has had a positive turnover margin in 27 of those seasons and was even in another season.
The Blackshirts have again shown the ability to take the ball away from opponents in 2004, with 11 takeaways in four games. That performance has helped offset Nebraska’s offensive turnover problems.
Nebraska forced five Western Illinois turnovers in the opener, including four interceptions. The Blackshirts’ five takeaways marked the second straight year Nebraska had forced five turnovers in the season opener.
The Huskers had four takeaways at Pittsburgh, all before halftime and converted those miscues into 17 points. The Husker defense has now caused five or more turnovers four times in the past 17 games after not having a five-takeaway game in the previous 43 games. In 17 games since the start of the 2003 season, Nebraska has forced at least three turnovers 12 times.
Nebraska’s nine interceptions rank in a tie for fifth nationally, and the Huskers 83.28 pass efficiency defense ranking is sixth in the country.
In addition to causing turnovers, the Blackshirt defense has responded well to Nebraska’s own turnovers. The Husker offense has committed 16 turnovers in four games, while the kickoff return unit mishandled two kicks against Western Illinois for a total of 18 "sudden changes". Off those opportunities, the opposition has scored just 28 points, with six of those points coming on an interception return for a touchdown by Southern Miss.
All-America Candidate Ruud Poised to Break Nebraska Career Tackle Record
Nebraska senior Mike linebacker Barrett Ruud has enjoyed a memorable career in the Husker program and the early part of his senior season has been no different. The 6-2, 240-pound Lincoln native had a record-setting 2003 campaign when he racked up 149 tackles, the most ever in a season by a Husker defender. Ruud had 78 unassisted tackles among his total, the second most in a season in Nebraska history, trailing only 2003 teammate Demorrio Williams who racked up 83 unassisted tackles.
Ruud entered his senior year just 53 tackles behind Nebraska career tackle leader Jerry Murtaugh, who collected 342 tackles from 1968 to 1970. Ruud has quickly narrowed that gap and the All-America and Butkus Award candidate is likely to surpass Murtaugh this week at Texas Tech. Ruud has a team-high 46 tackles this season, pushing his career total to 335 tackles, just seven behind Murtaugh.
The senior is coming off an outstanding performance in Nebraska’s 14-8 victory over Kansas last Saturday. Ruud recorded a season-high 15 tackles, including 10 solo tackles. The 15 tackles were the third-most of Ruud’s career and marked his third double-figure tackle game of the year, joining his 10-tackle effort vs. Western Illinois and 12 stops at Pittsburgh. Ruud now has 15 games in his career with 10 or more tackles, including 10 of the past 12 games.
In addition to leading the 2004 Huskers in total tackles, Ruud’s five tackles for loss are tops on the team. Ruud has 37 career tackles for loss to rank seventh on the Husker list, just one TFL from the top five. During his record-setting 2003 season, Ruud raced past his father, Tom, on the Nebraska career tackles list. Tom Ruud finished his Husker career (1972-74) with 202 career tackles, including a team-leading 104 tackles in 1974.
The father-son Ruud combination owns several Husker defensive milestones.
4Tom and Barrett Ruud are the only father-son combination to both lead Nebraska in tackles in a single season. Barrett accomplished the feat last season, while Tom’s 104 tackles in 1974 were a team-high.
4The Ruud's are the only family combination to both rank in the top 25 on Nebraska's career tackles list.
4Barrett and Tom Ruud have a combined 537 career tackles.
During fall camp, Barrett Ruud was elected as one of four team captains for the 2004 season, allowing the Butkus Award candidate to join his father in the fraternity of Husker captains. The Ruuds are the first father-son duo to serve as captains during their respective Husker careers.
The family connections continue beyond the father-son relationship for the Ruud family. In addition to Tom and Barrett Ruud, several other family members have made their mark at Nebraska. Barrett's great-grandfather, Clarence Swanson, was an all-conference selection during his Nebraska career (1918-21), while two of Barrett's uncles, Bob Martin (1973-75) and John Ruud (1978-79) also played for Nebraska. Both Swanson and Martin also served as Husker team captains. This fall, the Ruud family connection grows, as Barrett's younger brother, Bo, is a redshirt freshman Sam linebacker who saw the first action of his career against Western Illinois.
Secondary to None
The Nebraska defensive backfield returned three starters for the 2004 season–free safety Josh Bullocks, strong safety Daniel Bullocks and cornerback Fabian Washington. Also back is fifth-year senior Lornell McPherson who had played in 38 games and made nine starts entering his senior season.
The secondary earned significant recognition for its talents. The Sporting News listed the unit as the top defensive backfield in the nation, while Lindy's ranks the unit second and Athlon Sports tabs the NU secondary sixth. Josh Bullocks earned first-team All-America honors last season when he intercepted a school-record 10 passes. This summer, Bullocks was named to nearly every first-team All-America list and is a leading contender for the Thorpe Award. Washington was a third-team All-Big 12 pick last season and is listed as the No. 1 corner in the conference and No. 6 cornerback in the country by The Sporting News heading into the 2004 season.
Numbers back up the preseason hype. As a group the Bullocks' brothers, McPherson and Washington have played in 129 career games at Nebraska with a combined 75 starts. They have also combined to intercept 33 passes, led by Josh Bullocks' 12 picks, and break up 63 passes, including 31 by Washington. McPherson is the only senior among the group, while the others are in their junior seasons.
The Blackshirts have a history of outstanding defensive backs, but never before has a Nebraska defense featured a secondary with a chance to make such a significant dent in the school record book.
Josh Bullocks is tied for second on the Nebraska career interception list with 12 picks, including his first interception of 2004 at Pittsburgh. Bullocks is tied with Bret Clark for second place, just two interceptions behind career leader Dana Stephenson. Washington picked off his third pass of the season against Kansas, giving him 11 career interceptions, good for a tie for fourth on the Husker career list. McPherson and Daniel Bullocks have the top 10 in their sights with six and four career picks, respectively.
The 1969 Husker team featured a threesome that completed their careers with 33 interceptions (Stephenson, 14; Bill Kosch, 10; Jim Anderson, 9), while Kosch, Anderson and Joe Blahak were all members of the 1970 and 1971 national championship teams and completed their careers with a combined 29 interceptions. Josh Bullocks, Washington and McPherson need five more combined interceptions to become the top trio of teammates in career interceptions.
The 23 combined interceptions of Josh Bullocks and Fabian Washington are the most since Stephenson and Kosch were teammates on the 1969 team and finished their careers with a combined 24 picks.
The Husker secondary has also exhibited its depth early in the season. McPherson has missed the Pittsburgh and Kansas games with an injury, while Washington sat out the second half at Pittsburgh with an injury. True freshman Cortney Grixby has started the last two games in McPherson’s place, while fifth-year senior Kellen Huston has been a key player throughout the season. Both responded well, as Grixby has had seven tackles and two pass breakups in the past two games, while Huston has 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and seven pass berakups in the past two games. Huston’s five breakups at Pittsburgh tied for the third-most in school history.
West Coast Offense Comes to the Heartland
Nebraska’s West Coast Offense made a strong debut in the season opener against Western Illinois. The Huskers took just 1:53 to reach the end zone on the first drive of the game in the season opener against Western Illinois, mixing the run and the pass. By the end of the first quarter against WIU the stat sheet exhibited the precision, potency and versatility of Nebraska’s West Coast Offense.
- 13 first downs
- 13 rushing attempts for 110 yards
- 13 passing attempts for 105 yards
- 215 total offensive yards, the most by Nebraska in an opening quarter since the Huskers piled up 224 yards in the opening quarter of a 41-31 victory over Texas Tech in 2001 (NU led 21-13 after first quarter)
The offensive execution continued in the second quarter, as NU rolled up 398 yards before half. The Huskers finished the game with 581 yards of total offense, their most since posting 595 total yards in a 38-14 victory over McNeese State in 2002. The Huskers’ 56-point output was the most by a Nebraska team in 41 games, dating back to a 66-17 victory over Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl.
Head Coach Bill Callahan also suggested the defense may have to carry the offense through some growing pains during the learning process of the new system. Despite falling to Southern Miss in game two, the offense again moved the ball with consistency and showed the balance Callahan expects from his West Coast Offense. Against the Golden Eagles, Nebraska racked up 476 total yards, including 274 yards rushing and 202 passing yards. The Huskers rushed the ball 46 times in the game and threw a school-record tying 42 passes on the day.
Through four games, Nebraska ranks 31st nationally in total offense at 411.0 yards per game. The move to the West Coast Offense has not signaled the end of power football in Lincoln. In fact, Nebraska ranks 15th nationally in rushing offense at 224.8 yards per game.
The "200-200" Club
Nebraska topped 200 yards in both rushing and passing in each of the first two games this fall. Entering the season, Nebraska had not had a game in which it has recorded both 200 yards rushing and passing since Sept. 5, 1998, when the Huskers accomplished the feat against UAB.
The consecutive "200-200" games marked the first time the Huskers posted back-to-back games with 200-plus totals in both rushing and passing since the 1993 season. In 1993, Nebraska opened with victories against North Texas and Texas Tech and topped 300 yards in both games on the ground, while producing 215 and 217-yard passing efforts, respectively.
Sophomore Dailey at Control of Husker Offensive Attack
Sophomore Joe Dailey has been the man under the microscope as Nebraska’s starting quarterback. Dailey has struggled with interceptions, but has also shown the ability to successfully direct the West Coast Offensive attack that Bill Callahan has installed in Lincoln.
Dailey topped 200 yards passing in the first two games. He scorched the Western Illinois defense for 218 passing yards and four TDs in a 56-17 victory, with all four of his passing scores and 213 yards through the air before halftime. A week later against Southern Miss, the Jersey City, N.J. native threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns, while attempting a school-record tying 42 passes. Dailey threw for 142 yards at Pittsburgh and passed for 183 yards on 16-of-24 accuracy against Kansas. Through four games, Dailey has completed 54 percent of his passes for 745 yards, with eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Head Coach Bill Callahan was impressed by the performance of his young quarterback in his first career start against Western Illinois.
"I think he learned some invaluable lessons and until you get under the gun as a quarterback in this system you just don’t know. He came out very focused tonight. His preparation was very thorough. I thought he managed the system very well and I will tell you that there aren’t very many quarterbacks in the National Football League that can handle what he handled here tonight mentally."
While Callahan will continue to demand better ball security, the 6-0, 205-pound Dailey has recorded several passing accomplishments to start the year, including...
Dailey’s 218 passing yards against Western Illinois marked the first time a Husker had passed for more than 200 yards since Eric Crouch threw for 204 yards at Texas on Oct. 23, 1999. Dailey threw for 213 yards in the first half, the most by a Husker player before halftime since Scott Frost threw for 220 yards against Kansas in 1996. Frost had 254 yards passing in the game and the Huskers threw for 273 yards as a team in that contest.
Dailey passed for four touchdowns against WIU, marking the first time a Husker had thrown for four touchdowns since Eric Crouch passed for five touchdowns against Iowa in 2000. His six touchdowns in a two-game stretch were the most since Crouch connected for seven TD passes in 2000 in consecutive games vs. Iowa (5) and Missouri (2).
Dailey is the first Husker since World War II to throw six touchdown passes in the first two games of a season.
4 Dailey added two rushing scores against WIU, giving him six total touchdowns in the game. His six total offense TDs tied a Nebraska school record, joining quarterback Gerry Gdowski who accounted for six touchdowns in a 1989 win over Iowa State (4 rush, 2 pass), and I-back Calvin Jones who rushed for six touchdowns at Kansas in 1991.
The 218 passing yards were the most ever by a Husker in a season opener, bettering the 168 by Jerry Tagge against Wake Forest in 1970 and Bobby Newcombe against Louisiana Tech in 1998. Dailey’s 420 passing yards in the first two games of the season are the most since at least 1946, and the most passing yards by a Husker in any two-game period since Brook Berringer threw for 460 yards in consecutive games against Kansas (267) and at Iowa State (193) in November of 1994. The last time a Husker had passed for 200 yards in two straight games prior to Dailey was Vince Ferragamo against TCU (218) and Miami (264) in 1976.
Tight End Herian Perfect Fit in West Coast Offense
Junior tight end Matt Herian made a strong impression during his first two seasons, becoming known as a big-play threat while earning first-team All-Big 12 honors. The 6-5, 240-pound Herian hauled in seven touchdown catches in his first two seasons and figured to be one of the main beneficiaries of Nebraska’s new offensive attack.
Western Illinois defensive coordinator Vince Okruch witnessed a pair of Herian touchdowns in the past two seasons as Colorado’s coordinator. Herian’s ability scared Okruch entering the season-opening matchup with Nebraska.
"I think he’s the best tight end in the country. It doesn’t always look like he’s running that fast, but then he’ll just run past people. He can run as fast as any safety in the country."
Herian did nothing to change Okruch’s opinion after Nebraska’s 56-17 victory. The junior caught seven passes for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including six catches by halftime. Herian did not let up in game two against Southern Miss, tying the Nebraska single-game record for receptions by a tight end with eight catches for 71 yards and a third touchdown of the season. The Mackey Award candidate has posted an award-winning start to the season, including...
Herian’s seven and eight-catch efforts to open the season rank as two of the five best receiving days by a tight end in school history. Herian’s eight receptions tied Dennis Morrison’s eight receptions at Colorado on Oct. 22, 1966, and his seven-catch effort is tied for third on the single-game tight end list.
Herian has 18 catches in four games, after pulling down 22 receptions in 13 games during his sophomore season. Through four games, Herian is more than halfway to the Nebraska season tight end receptions record of 31, held by Johnny Mitchell in 1991.
Herian’s 10 career touchdown receptions are just four shy of the Nebraska career record for TD catches by a tight end, held by Todd Millikan (1985-88). The Nebraska season record for TD catches by a tight end is seven, while the record for touchdown catches by any player is 11 by Johnny Rodgers in 1971.
Herian and wide receiver Willie Amos each had two touchdown receptions vs. Western Illinois, marking the first time a pair of Husker receivers caught two touchdowns apiece in the same game since Tracey Wistrom (3) and Matt Davison (2) accomplished the feat against Iowa in 2000.
Herian's 15 receptions in the first two games were the most in a two-game stretch by any Husker since Johnny Rodgers caught 15 passes in consecutive games at Kansas State (10) and at Oklahoma (5) in 1971. Jeff Kinney caught 17 passes out of the backfield in a two-game stretch against Missouri (8) and Kansas (9) in 1969.
Herian, a Pierce, Neb., native, is closing in on another Nebraska milestone. Herian’s 203 receiving yards this season have pushed his career receiving yardage total to 999 yards. With one more receiving yard, Herian will become the 12th Husker with 1,000 career receiving yards and just the third tight end to reach that total, joining Tracey Wistrom (1,150) and Junior Miller (1,045).
Herian's 47 career receptions are tied for the fifth-most ever by a Husker tight end, and just 14 shy of the career tight end record of 61 catches, set by Jerry List from 1970 to 1972. Additionally, Herian is tied for 23rd on the overall receptions list, just 14 catches shy of moving into the top 10.
Ross Leading Productive Nebraska I-Back Committee
Junior I-back Cory Ross is the featured back in Nebraska’s offensive attack, but he has plenty of capable help at the position as evidenced by the Huskers’ ground production early in the 2004 season.
Nebraska churned out 363 rushing yards against Western Illinois, its most since rushing for 383 yards in a 38-31 win at Texas A&M in 2002. The Huskers rank 15th nationally in rushing offense at 224.8 yards per game.
While running backs coach Randy Jordan has employed a committee-like rotation, there is no question that Ross is the chairman of the I-back committee. Ross is averaging 118.5 yards rushing per game, highlighted by a career-high 169 yards on 27 carries against Southern Miss.
Ross had a career-long 52-yard run on his first carry of the second half against Southern Miss. On that carry, he pushed his career rushing total to 1,001 yards and became the 54th Husker to pass 1,000 career rushing yards. Ross enters the Texas Tech game with 1,233 career rushing yards, 40th in school history.
With three 100-yard games in the first four contests of the season, Ross has now rushed for 100 or more yards in six of his last eight games and totaled 910 rushing yards in that eight-game stretch (113.8 ypg).
Ross’ 118.5 yards per game average through four games places him 12th nationally in rushing, while his 145.5 all-purpose yards per game rank 20th in the nation.
Ross’ 294 yards in the first two games was the best two-game start by a Husker since I-back Dan Alexander churned out 320 yards in the first two games of the 2000 season.
Redshirt freshman Tierre Green has also been a strong force early in the season, while true freshman Brandon Jackson and junior David Horne give Nebraska four excellent options at the I-back spot. Horne gives Nebraska a pair of 1,000-yard career rushers, as he has 1,104 career rushing yards. The "committee" appears to have Nebraska’s running game in excellent hands.
Green rushed for 112 yards on seven carries (16.0 ypc) against Western Illinois, including two touchdowns. His rushing total is believed to be the most rushing yards by a Husker in a varsity debut since Tony Davis ran for 147 yards in the 1973 season opener against UCLA. Green has totaled 204 yards on 24 carries (8.5 ypc).
The double 100-yard performance by Ross and Green against WIU marked the 70th time in school history that NU has had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game.
Jackson combined with Green to carry the bulk of Nebraska’s second-half rushing load vs. Western Illinois. Jackson carried 13 times for 79 yards. His 79 yards are the most by a Husker true freshman since David Horne rushed for 122 yards against Kansas in 2002, and is the most by a Husker true freshman in a season opener since at least 1973.
The I-back committee has combined for 798 yards on 134 carries, an average of 5.96 yards per attempt.
2004 Husker Schedule Full of Challenges
Nebraska faces a daunting schedule in 2004, as it looks for its 35th nine-win season in the last 36 years and its NCAA-record 36th consecutive bowl trip. Overall, the Huskers will face seven teams that participated in bowl games in 2003, including five Big 12 foes that appeared in the postseason a year ago. Western Illinois opened a solid non-conference schedule that includes a Division I-AA quarterfinalist from 2003, and a pair of 2003 bowl teams.
The Huskers completed a three-game contract with Southern Miss when the Golden Eagles traveled to Lincoln and NU’s trip to Pittsburgh was the first in a two-game series. The Panthers, who played in the Continental Tire Bowl in 2003, are scheduled to travel to Lincoln on Sept. 17, 2005.
Nebraska opened Big 12 Conference action against Kansas (Tangerine Bowl). Nebraska’s remaining home schedule includes games against Baylor (Oct. 16), Missouri (Oct. 30, Independence Bowl) and Colorado (Nov. 26). The Huskers face a difficult league road slate, traveling to Texas Tech (Saturday, Houston Bowl), defending league champion Kansas State (Oct. 23, Fiesta Bowl), Iowa State (Nov. 6) and 2003 South Division champ Oklahoma (Nov. 13, Sugar Bowl). Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma rotated onto the Huskers' schedule this fall, while Nebraska will not face Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State this season.
Seven of Nebraska's 2004 opponents won eight or more games last season, including Western Illinois, Southern Miss, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Scanning the Polls
Nebraska was unranked entering the season for the second consecutive year. The Huskers received enough points in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll to rank 26th and were 27th in points in the Associated Press listing. This marks just the second time since 1969 that Nebraska has began the season unranked in the Associated Press Poll (also 2003).
This week, Nebraska received seven points in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and one point in the AP poll. Oklahoma (Nov. 13) is the only team on Nebraska’s 2004 schedule that is currently nationally ranked as the Sooners check in at No. 2 in both polls. Texas is ranked No. 5 in both polls, while Oklahoma State is No. 22 in the AP poll and 21st in the Coaches Poll this week. Five other Big 12 teams, including Nebraska, received votes in this week’s polls.
Huskers Continue Nation’s Best Win Streak in Season Openers
Nebraska continued a long run of dominance in season openers with a 56-17 win over Western Illinois. The Huskers have been victorious in their last 19 season openers since a 17-13 setback against Florida State in 1985 at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska’s 19-game win streak in season openers tops the nation, followed by Kansas State and Florida with 15 each.
Nebraska has won each of those 19 games by at least 10 points, and owns an 84-26-5 all-time record in season openers. Since 1973, the Huskers are 27-4-1 in season openers, including 22-2 at Memorial Stadium, with losses to only Florida State in 1985 and Washington State in 1977. In all-time home openers, Nebraska is 93-17-5, including 65-14-3 at Memorial Stadium. The Huskers are 29-2 in their last 31 home openers.
Nebraska Maintains Remarkable Win Streak vs. Jayhawks
Nebraska’s hard-fought 14-8 victory over Kansas on Oct. 2 was the Huskers’ 36th straight win in the series vs. the Jayhawks and their 18th straight against Kansas in Lincoln. Nebraska’s 36-game win streak in the series is the second-longest win streak ever against a Division I-A opponent, trailing only Notre Dame’s 40 straight victories over Navy (also active). The six-point victory over Kansas was Nebraska’s slimmest margin of victory over the Jayhawks since a 21-20 victory in Lawrence in 1993. The win over Kansas was also Nebraska’s 29th victory in its last 30 conference openers. The two teams have met in 99 consecutive seasons, the longest continuous series in Division I-A.
Construction at Memorial Stadium to Continue Throughout 2004
Nebraska is in the midst of a major building and stadium improvement project on the north end of Memorial Stadium. The $50 million project includes an addition of more than 6,000 seats to Memorial Stadium, which will raise Nebraska’s average crowd to 80,000 fans per game.
The project also includes the Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex, which will include a new locker room for the Husker football program. The building will include new football offices, a new strength complex, new training room, water therapy pools and administrative offices. The improvement project also features a new indoor workout facility, giving the Huskers two full-sized indoor practice areas adjacent to two outdoor grass fields. The project will not be completed until the 2006 season, leading to a few changes for Husker fans and opponents this fall.
The demolition of the north fieldhouse has forced the relocation of opposing teams to East Stadium. Husker opponents will locker in the south end of the East Stadium. The opponent will travel under East Stadium and enter and exit the field from the northeast corner. Nebraska will continue to enter the playing field from the southwest corner for the next two seasons, before moving to the North Stadium for the 2006 season.
Husker fans will also see minor changes in their game-day routine. Gate 14 on the northeast corner of the stadium has been combined with Gate 15. Fans previously using that entrance will now use Gate 15.
Husker Personnel, Injury Update
Several Husker newcomers made their mark during fall camp and six Husker first-timers made their debut in the opener against Western Illinois. Offensively, five first-timers saw action for Nebraska, including starting wideout Terrence Nunn, who became the first Husker offensive player to start the first game of his true freshman season since World War II.
Other Husker offensive newcomers who saw action against Western Illinois included true freshman quarterback Ryan Goodman, true freshman I-back Brandon Jackson and junior college transfers Shamus McKoy (WR) and Cornealius Thomas (OT). Defensively, true freshman Cortney Grixby made his Husker debut at cornerback against Western Illinois and has started the past two games at right corner in place of the injured Lornell McPherson.
Nebraska has played a total of seven true freshmen this season, as three true freshmen made their debuts on special teams in game two, including receiver Santino Panico who is serving as NU’s punt returner, and linebackers Michael Keenan and Lance Brandenburgh who play on Husker coverage units.
Nebraska entered the 2004 season in relatively good physical condition. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Adams, a transfer from Grossmont (Calif.) College, had his spleen removed on Friday, Aug. 27 but returned to practice on a limited basis the week before the Pittsburgh contest. His playing status is still undetermined. McPherson has missed the past two games with an injury, while defensive end Adam Carriker missed the Pittsburgh contest because of injury, but returned on a limited basis against Kansas. Senior fullback Steve Kriewald missed the Kansas contest with a knee injury.
NCAA Record 265 Consecutive Sellouts
Nebraska boasts an incredible NCAA-record 265 consecutive sellouts at Memorial Stadium. The sellout streak dates back to Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney's first year in 1962 (vs. Missouri on Nov. 3). Notre Dame is second in all-time consecutive sellouts with 176, 89 fewer than Nebraska.
The Huskers are 235-30 during the 265 sellouts. The mark includes a 38-20 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).
The fan support at Memorial Stadium has led to a dominant home field advantage for the Huskers in Lincoln. Nebraska is a remarkable 146-14 at Memorial Stadium since 1981, with eight of those losses coming against teams that finished the season ranked in the top eight of the Associated Press Poll. Nebraska will play host to six home games in 2004, which should bring the sellout streak to 268 games by season's end.
Memorial Stadium Magic
Nebraska’s record home sellout streak is testament to the Huskers playing in front of the nation’s best college football fans. On the field, Nebraska has rewarded the loyalty of the Husker Nation with incredible success at Memorial Stadium through the years. Nebraska had a nation-leading 26-game home winning streak end with a loss to Texas in November, 2002. The loss ended the third-longest home winning streak in school history and Nebraska’s third home win streak of 20 games or more since 1980, including a school-record 47-game home winning streak from 1991 to 1998.
The Huskers finished 6-1 at home in 2003, and Nebraska is 103-7 at home the last 16 years, including a pair of losses to teams that went on to win shares of the national championship–Colorado in 1990 and Washington in 1991. The Huskers are 470-126-20 (.779, 616 games, 115 years) in Lincoln, 345-103-13 (.762, 461 games, 82 years) in Memorial Stadium (since 1923). The 2002 season marked the first time Nebraska has lost two home games (Texas, Colorado) in a season since 1980.
Since 1986 (19 seasons), NU is 114-9 in Lincoln, with losses to Colorado (twice), Washington, Oklahoma (twice), Texas (twice), Kansas State and Southern Miss. Nebraska has not been shut out at home since a 12-0 loss to Kansas State in 1968 (231 games). NU has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons. Husker faithful set a new attendance record in Memorial Stadium in 2002 against Texas with 78,268 fans.
Huskers Own An Unprecedented Winning Tradition
Nebraska, the nation's third-winningest program all time (fourth by percentage), boasts a 784-312-40 record in 1,136 games (.708) in 115 years of football. In the last 36 years, NU is tops, posting a record of 350-71-5 for an .827 winning percentage (426 games), an average of nearly 10 wins per year.
NU has won 10-or-more games 24 times since 1962, has gone undefeated and untied through the regular season seven times, played in 13 national title games (for at least one of the teams) and won the championship five times. Since the first Nebraska season in 1890, Husker teams have won 11 or more games 12 times, including seven of the last 11 years. NU has won 12 or more games seven times, and 13 games three times (1971, 1994 and 1997).
Nebraska (702), Michigan (705), Alabama (728) and Notre Dame (736) were the only four programs to win 700 games in the 1900s. NU became the first Division I team to win 100 or more games in consecutive decades, ranking first in the 1980s (103-20-0, .837) and second in the 1990s (108-16-1, .890) and posted a nation’s best 309-56-5 record in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Nebraska Tops Elite Programs in Consistency
Nebraska ranks third among Division I-A schools in all-time football victories with 784 wins. The Huskers have the nation’s best record since 1962, posting a 418-89-5 record in the last 42 seasons. In that period, Nebraska has easily been the most consistent program in the nation. That is evident when comparing the Huskers’ record to the other nine programs among the top 10 in all-time victories.
The Huskers have had just three seasons since 1962 with eight or fewer victories. Eight of the other nine schools in the top 10 have had at least 15 seasons with eight or fewer wins in that span. Nebraska’s last losing season occurred in 1961. Michigan has not had a losing record since 1967, but the other eight schools on the all-time top 10 wins list have all had losing seasons since 1988, including six programs with losing campaigns in the past seven seasons.
NU To Bid for NCAA-Record 36th Consecutive Bowl Appearance in 2004 Campaign
Nebraska’s visit to the 2003 Mastercard Alamo Bowl marked the Huskers’ 35th consecutive bowl game, the nation's longest current streak and an all-time NCAA record. Michigan’s streak of consecutive bowl appearances reached 29 last year, the second-longest streak in NCAA history. Nebraska's 42 overall bowl appearances is tied for fourth best with USC, trailing Alabama's 51, Tennessee’s 44 and Texas’ 43.
Nebraska played the first of its 42 bowls in the Rose Bowl, when No. 7 Nebraska lost to No. 2 Stanford, 21-13, following the 1940 season. NU's 35 consecutive bowls began with a 45-6 win over Georgia in the 1969 Sun Bowl. The Huskers are 21-21 all-time in bowl games.
NU Owns 42 Consecutive Winning Regular Seasons
The Huskers' 10-3 record in 2003 marked Nebraska's 42nd consecutive winning regular season and its 41st winning season in the last 42 years. Nebraska saw its streak of 40 consecutive winning seasons end with a 7-7 mark in 2002. Nebraska’s streak of 40 consecutive winning seasons fell two years short of Notre Dame’s NCAA-record run of 42 straight winning campaigns from 1889 to 1932.
The Huskers boast 42 consecutive winning regular seasons and 42 straight years with a .500 or better finish. Nebraska’s 42 straight non-losing seasons is tied for second all-time in NCAA Division I-A, with Notre Dame's 42 (1889-1932), trailing only Penn State’s 49 (1939-87). Since Nebraska’s 42-year .500-or-better streak began, the Huskers have averaged nearly 10 wins per season with a 417-89-5 record (.821).
Nine Wins a Regular Occurrence for Huskers
Nebraska’s amazing run of nine-win seasons came to an end at 33 consecutive years in 2002. The streak is even more remarkable when considering that Texas and Miami now share the lead for most consecutive nine-win seasons with six apiece. Texas’ current run of six consecutive nine-win seasons is the longest in its proud history. Miami reeled off 10 straight nine-win campaigns spanning the 1980s and 1990s and Florida State had a 14-year streak that ended in 2000.
However, among a group of other long-time powers, including Notre Dame, Penn State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Ohio State, the longest streak of nine-win seasons is eight years by both Oklahoma and Ohio State.
Nebraska has won nine-or-more games in 39 of the past 42 seasons. Only back-to-back 6-4 records in 1967 and 1968, and a 7-7 mark in 2002, have fallen short of the nine-win plateau.
Huskers a Fixture in National Polls
Nebraska was unranked in the preseason 2004 Associated Press poll, but is a regular visitor to the national polls. Including the Oct. 3 AP poll, Nebraska has been ranked in 538 of 559 AP polls since 1969 (all but one week in 1977, two weeks in 1981, the final 11 weeks of 2002; the 2003 preseason poll; and the first six polls of 2004). Additionally, Nebraska has been ranked in the AP top 10 for at least one week in each of the last 34 seasons and 40 of the last 41 years.
The Huskers saw an AP Poll record streak of 348 consecutive weeks in the poll end after a 2002 loss at Iowa State. Nebraska appeared in every weekly poll from Oct. 17, 1981, to Sept. 22, 2002.
Huskers Continue Nebraska Tradition of Award-Winning Excellence in Classroom
The Husker football program has a tradition of winning that can be matched by few in college football. Off the field, Nebraska has established a tradition of academic excellence that is matched by no one.
Huskers Continue to Lead Nation in Academic Honors
Nebraska continues to lead the nation in CoSIDA Academic All-Americans for all sports and all teams with 217; in first-team winners for all sports with 109; and also leads the nation in football academic honor winners with 59 first-team certificates and 81 football all-teams certificates. The 217 overall honorees is 61 better than second-place Notre Dame, while the 59 football honorees is 21 more than second-place Notre Dame's 38.
The Husker football program also leads the nation with nine NCAA Today's Top Eight Award winners, 31 NCAA postgraduate scholarship winners, including Judd Davies in 2004, and 20 National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar-Athletes, most recently Chris Kelsay in 2002.
Kriewald, Cooper Playing 2004 Season as Graduate Students
Two members of Nebraska's 20-player senior class will compete in their senior seasons as graduate students. Fullback Steve Kriewald picked up his degree in construction management in May. Linebacker Ira Cooper graduated with his degree in sociology at the close of summer school in August. In addition to Kriewald and Cooper, nine Huskers are on track to finish their undergraduate work in December. Another eight are scheduled to graduate in May of 2005, putting 19 of 20 Husker seniors on track to earn their degrees by next spring.
4.0 GPAs not Uncommon to Husker Football Team
Three Husker players carry a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average into the fall semester. Senior linebacker Chad Sievers (business administration) has completed his first eight semesters of college without a blemish on his report card. In addition to Sievers, sophomore offensive lineman Kurt Mann and sophomore fullback Dane Todd have each completed four semesters of college with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages.
During the spring 2004 semester, a total of seven players had 4.0 grade-point averages. Joining the three players listed above were quarterback Garth Glissman, defensive lineman Nathan Krug, safety Brandon Rigoni and safety Blake Tiedtke. A total of nine players had perfect 4.0 semesters in the fall of 2003.
Huskers Top Big 12 in Graduation Rates
Nebraska has led the Big 12 in graduation rates four times since the conference was formed eight years ago. In addition, Nebraska’s Exhausted Eligibility Graduation Rate increased for the fifth consecutive year and is currently a Big 12-leading 91 percent. The Exhausted Eligibility Rate surveys the graduation of scholarship student-athletes who entered the University of Nebraska from 1988 through 1997 and exhausted their athletic eligibility at Nebraska.
Nebraska’s football averages are higher than the national average and are higher than the general student population at UNL as well. Nebraska’s one-class average for football students entering school in 1997 is 72 percent, which is ahead of UNL's 59 percent for all students. Nebraska was one of 30 schools honored by the American Football Coaches Association, when the school received the 2004 Academic Achievement Award in late June. Nebraska was recognized for graduating 70 percent or more of its football student-athletes from the freshman class of 1998-99, as its graduation rate was 77 percent.
Two members of this year’s senior class (Steve Kriewald, Ira Cooper) have already earned their degree with nine more set to pick up their diplomas in December.
Nebraska Unveils Hall of Distinction
The University of Nebraska Athletic Department unveiled the Hall of Distinction on Thursday, Sept. 2 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Hall of Distinction, which is located in the Hewit Center in West Memorial Stadium, honors every Husker letterwinner who has graduated and those who have earned national academic honors.
Nebraska men’s sports date back to 1890 and its women’s sports began nearly 30 years ago. During that span, 4,625 letterwinners have earned their degrees. Nebraska currently carries a 91 percent graduation rate for student-athletes who complete their eligibility at Nebraska.
The graduation display, which honors every student-athlete who lettered and earned their undergraduate degree, is in the same hallway as the academic All-American portraits, and a display honoring Nebraska’s nation-leading 14 NCAA Today’s Top Eight Award winners. Since the award began, Nebraska leads the nation in academic All-Americans with 217 first-, second-, and third-team honorees from all sports and also leads the nation in with 109 first-team academic All-Americans.
NU Athletic Director Steve Pederson said the display was the brainchild of Associate Athletic Director for Academic Programs and Student Services Dennis Leblanc. Approximately two years of research went into tracking the letterwinners to verify names, graduation dates and degrees.