Nebraska faces its toughest test of the 2004 season this Saturday when Nebraska travels to Norman, Okla., to take on second-ranked Oklahoma at OU’s Memorial Stadium. The game is set for a national telecast on FSN, beginning at 6 p.m.
The Huskers are coming off a 34-27 loss at Iowa State that dropped Nebraska out of sole possession of the lead in the Big 12 North’s Division. With the setback, Nebraska stands 5-4 overall and 3-3 in Big 12 action, tied with Iowa State for the divisional lead. The Huskers remain alive in the race for a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game, but no longer controls their own destiny for a trip to Kansas City.
Oklahoma enters Saturday night’s contest with a perfect 9-0 record after two hard-fought road victories in the past two weeks. One week after a three-point win at Oklahoma State, the Sooners rallied from a 14-point deficit for a 42-35 victory at Texas A&M on Saturday. The win kept Oklahoma second in both national polls, and a victory over Nebraska would earn the Sooners their third straight trip to the Big 12 Championship Game.
The Nebraska-Oklahoma matchup has long been one of the top matchups in college football. Oklahoma owns a 40-37-3 overall edge in the all-time series and Saturday’s game will be the first meeting since a 20-10 victory by third-ranked Nebraska over No. 2 Oklahoma in Lincoln in 2001.
Husker Rally Falls Short in Road Loss to Iowa State
Nebraska twice rallied from 20-point second-half deficits on Saturday at Iowa State, but a late rally fell short in a 34-27 loss to the Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State sprinted to a 24-7 halftime lead and led 27-7 early in the second half, but Nebraska cut into the ISU advantage with two fourth-quarter scores, before a late interception sealed the ISU victory. The outcome left both teams with 5-4 overall records and tied atop the Big 12 North Division at 3-3 in conference play.
Brandon Jackson capped a nine-play, 60-yard scoring drive with 5:01 remaining in the game to pull Nebraska within seven points, 34-27. The scoring run was Jackson’s second of the day, marking his third two-touchdown game this season and the fourth straight game NU had an I-back run for two scores.
Following Jackson’s touchdown, the Blackshirts held ISU in check on the next drive before getting the ball back with 2:55 to play. But quarterback Joe Dailey’s first pass was picked off and Iowa State converted a late fourth-down attempt to clinch the win.
ISU quarterback Bret Meyer threw for three touchdowns and his performance was among the Cyclones’ top 10 single-game passing yardage marks. He connected on 17-of-36 attempts for 345 yards and three scores, including a 77-yarder to Jon Davis with 1:58 left in the third period to put Iowa State in front by 20 points at 34-14. Davis finished with 103 yards on four receptions, and freshman Todd Blythe had 188 yards on eight catches, all in the first half. Blythe’s touchdown with five seconds left in the first half gave the Cyclones a 24-7 lead at intermission.
After ISU extended its lead to 27-7, Cory Ross capped a 15-play, 77-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown, that sliced the ISU lead to 27-14 late in the third period. After Iowa State surged back in front with the long pass play, Nebraska again fought back. Jackson reached the end zone for the Huskers with 13:14 left in the game to get the Huskers back within 34-20. Jackson and Ross combined for three touchdowns, as Ross finished with a game-high 126 rushing yards on 19 carries, including a pair of 30-plus-yard rushes in the first half.
Iowa State struck first with a Bret Culbertson 28-yard field goal with 11:01 to play in the first half and made it 10-0 on a Ben Barkema four-yard touchdown reception, the first catch of his career, later in the first quarter. Meyer set up the scoring pass with a 51-yard strike to Blythe earlier on the drive.
The Huskers got on the board on the first play of the second quarter when Steve Kriewald grabbed his second receiving touchdown of the season. Dailey connected on a six-yarder on third down that Kriewald snagged out of the air to pull NU within three, 10-7, with 14:55 to play in the first half.
The completion was Dailey’s sixth of the day to six different receivers. Dailey finished with 230 passing yards on 18-of-42 passing. It was the fourth time this season Dailey attempted at least 30 passes in a contest, and the third time he tied the school record for pass attempts in a game.
Recapping Game Nine...Iowa State 34, Nebraska 27
Nebraska quarterback Joe Dailey attempted a school-record tying 42 passes, equaling the mark previously set on four occasions. It was the second time in 2004 Dailey has attempted 42 passes. Dailey threw for 230 yards, and has 1,646 yards passing in 2004, fourth on Nebraska’s single-season list. Dailey’s first six passes were completed to six different receivers.
I-back Cory Ross had runs of 38 and 33 yards in the first half. Ross has five plays in the past four games that have covered 33 yards or more. In addition to his two rushes vs. Iowa State, Ross had a 74-yard reception for a touchdown against Baylor, a 63-yard reception at Kansas State and an 86-yard touchdown run against Missouri.
Ross finished with 19 carries for 126 yards, his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season and his eighth in the past 13 games dating back to last season. Ross has 937 rushing yards this season and is just 63 yards shy of recording the 27th 1,000-yard season in school history. Ross has 1,696 yards in his career and moved up two spots to 27th place on the Nebraska career list.
Junior strong safety Daniel Bullocks intercepted his fifth pass of the season and the seventh of his Nebraska career. Bullocks returned the second-quarter interception 31 yards, and has returned his five interceptions this season a total of 187 yards, an average of 37.4 yards per return.
Freshman wide receiver Terrence Nunn had five receptions for 55 yards, setting a career high for receptions and tying his career high for receiving yards.
Senior linebacker Barrett Ruud made 11 tackles against Iowa State, pushing his career tackle total to 409. Ruud is the seventh player in Big 12 history to record 400 or more tackles. Ruud added one tackle for loss, pushing his career tackle for loss total to 47 to rank second on the Nebraska career list.
Ruud increased his season total to 120 tackles, moving him into a tie for eighth place on the single-season Husker tackle list. Ruud owns the top spot on that list with 149 tackles last season and is 21 tackles from owning the top two spots on the single-season tackle list.
Nebraska punter Sam Koch averaged 44.5 yards on six punts. Koch had three punts of 50 yards or longer in the game, and had four punts downed inside the Cyclone 20-yard line.
Nebraska senior tight end Dusty Keiser caught two passes for 41 yards, both career highs. He had a career-long 32-yard reception in the first quarter.
Nebraska sophomore receiver Isaiah Fluellen had four receptions for 64 yards against Iowa State. His four receptions tied his career high as Fluellen previously had four catches for 84 yards in the Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.
Nebraska’s 15-play touchdown drive in the third quarter was its longest in terms of plays this season, bettering a 13-play touchdown drive against Western Illinois.
The Nebraska defense limited Iowa State to 102 rushing yards in Saturday’s game, marking the eighth time in nine games the Huskers have limited the opposition to 105 yards or less on the ground. Nebraska made six tackles for loss in the contest, including two sacks.
Iowa State receiver Todd Blythe had eight receptions for 188 yards in Saturday’s game, all in the first half. Blythe’s receiving yards total was the most by a Husker opponent this season and seventh all-time, and was the most receiving yards against Nebraska since Quincy Morgan had 199 yards on Nov. 11, 2000, for Kansas State.
Scouting the Oklahoma Sooners
The Huskers make their final conference road trip of the season this weekend then they head south to the Sooner state to take on No. 2 Oklahoma in Norman. Against the Sooners, Nebraska will try to get back on the winning track and keep pace with Iowa State in the Big 12 North title race, which remains up for grabs with five teams within a game of the division lead entering the weekend.
The matchup between the Huskers and Sooners will be the first since 2001, when Nebraska edged OU, 20-10, in Lincoln. The game was a battle between the top two teams in the BCS standings, a common occurrence when NU and OU face off on the gridiron.
Oklahoma comes into this weekend’s game again ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings after earning a 9-0 record, including a 6-0 mark in league play. The Sooners have relied on a stingy defense and efficient offense to remain in national title contention.
Adrian Peterson has led the Sooner offense all season, as he has recorded nine straight 100-yard rushing games, an NCAA freshman record. Peterson ranks fifth nationally in rushing with 152.6 yards per game (1,373 rushing yards). Peterson has been aided by 2003 Heisman Trophy winner Jason White, who ranks eighth nationally in passing efficiency (160.6) while completing 62.4 percent (161-of-258) of his passes for 2,130 yards and 25 touchdowns against four interceptions.
On the other side of the ball, Brodney Pool has 65 tackles to lead the squad, while Dan Cody adds 33 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Pool paces the Sooners with two interceptions, nine pass breakups and one blocked kick.
On special teams, punter Blake Ferguson (42.2 ypp) is one of five kickers in the league averaging more than 42 yards per punt, while Antonio Perkins ranks third in the conference with 11.3 yards per punt return, and has eight career returns for touchdowns.
Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops
Coach Bob Stoops has garnered a 64-11 record at Oklahoma since the 1999 campaign. His teams have won at least 11 games each of the past four seasons, and have dropped just six games in the past five years after losing five contests in his first season.
Stoops was named the 2000 national coach of the year after leading the Sooners to a final No. 1 ranking with a victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Stoops has also been named the Big 12 Coach of the Year (2000, 2003) and the Walter Camp National Coach of the Year (2000, 2003) on two occasions.
Stoops came to the Sooners after three seasons with the Florida Gators, where he was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. He was also on the sidelines for Kansas State from 1989 to 1995 following a one-year stint at Kent State. Stoops began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Iowa, from 1983 to 1984 and then spent three seasons as a volunteer coach with the Hawkeyes.
Nebraska-Oklahoma Series...OU leads, 40-37-3
The Huskers and Sooners meet for the 81st time in the rivalry, but the first time since 2001 when they clash on Saturday in Norman. Nebraska and Oklahoma had played 71 straight seasons until 1998.
Oklahoma holds a slim 40-37-3 series advantage, as Nebraska has closed the gap with eight wins in the last nine meetings. NU has also won four of the last six contests in Norman.
The 80 contests in the series is the most for the Huskers against a current Big 12 South divisional opponent, and is longer than the Huskers’ series with Colorado (62 games entering 2004). The next longest series against a South foe is 40 games against Oklahoma State.
Huskers, OU to Resume Historic Series
This week’s meeting marks the first between Nebraska and Oklahoma since a 20-10 Cornhusker victory in 2001. That game pitted the nation’s No. 2 (Oklahoma) and No. 3 (Nebraska) teams according to the Associated Press, continuing a series filled with matchups between highly ranked teams.
With Oklahoma entering Saturday’s matchup ranked second in both major polls, this will mark the eighth straight meeting between the two schools in which one of the teams has been ranked fifth or higher. The series has a remarkable history of matching top teams, including...
The 2004 matchup marks the 40th straight season at least one of the teams has entered the game ranked in a national poll.
In that same stretch, at least one team has been ranked in the top five entering the game in 32 of 40 meetings, including nine games with both teams among the nation’s top five.
Since the start of the Associated Press Poll in 1936, the NU-OU game has had at least one ranked team 57 times in 66 contests and the series has featured at least one top 10 team 46 times.
Nebraska to Face First Ranked Opponent in 2004
Saturday’s matchup at second-ranked Oklahoma marks the highest-ranked opponent Nebraska has faced in the regular season since taking on the Sooners in 2001. Oklahoma was also ranked second according to the Associated Press entering that contest, and No. 3 Nebraska pulled out a 20-10 victory in Lincoln. In Nebraska’s most recent trip to Norman in 2000, the top-ranked Huskers were defeated, 31-14, by Oklahoma, which entered the game ranked third. Saturday’s game will mark Nebraska’s fourth matchup against a top-five team since the start of the 2000 season, with three of those games against Oklahoma. Nebraska also faced top-ranked Miami in the 2002 Rose Bowl.
The game against Oklahoma also marks Nebraska’s first in 2004 against a ranked opponent. The Huskers split two games against ranked opponents in 2003, defeating Oklahoma State in Lincoln, and losing at Texas.
Strong Run Defenses to Square Off in Nebraska-Sooner Matchup
Two top 10 run defenses will square off this weekend at Oklahoma, with the Sooners leading the Big 12 and ranking seventh nationally in run defense, and the Huskers just behind at ninth nationally, allowing 94.2 rushing yards per game. Both offenses will test the rushing defense, as Oklahoma ranks 17th nationally in rushing and Nebraska is 27th on the ground.
Nebraska held the Iowa State rushing attack in check, allowing 102 yards to the Cyclones, marking the eighth time in nine games Nebraska has surrendered 105 yards or less on the ground in 2004. Only Kansas State has picked up more than 105 yards rushing against the Husker defense. With the exception of the Kansas State contest, the Huskers have succeeded this season in making opposing offenses one-dimensional by shutting down the running game.
Nebraska allows just 2.73 yards per rush, the seventh-best mark in the country.
Nebraska had a streak of 25 straight quarters without allowing a rushing touchdown end against Texas Tech. Only four opponents have rushed for a touchdown against Nebraska.
Nebraska has allowed just six runs of longer than 20 yards in nine games.
The Huskers held Western Illinois to minus-three yards rushing, marking 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 24 sacks this season, including a team-high four by senior defensive end Benard Thomas. Sophomore defensive end Jay Moore, junior defensive end Wali Muhammad, senior linebacker Barrett Ruud and sophomore defensive end Adam Carriker have each chipped in three sacks. The Huskers have 74 total tackles for loss, including 14 tackles behind the line against Missouri. Ruud leads the charge with 15 tackles for loss.
Turnovers Continue to Play Key Role in NU Fortunes
Nebraska’s Blackshirt defense has a reputation of traditionally being one of the nation’s most dominant defenses. The current group of Blackshirts has shown a special knack for taking the ball away from the opposition. Last season, Nebraska had a school-record 47 takeaways. This season Nebraska has not been quite as disruptive in the turnover department, but has still shown the ability to change a game with takeaways, forcing 19 opponent turnovers, including 13 interceptions.
As always, the turnover battle will play a key role against Oklahoma. Nebraska enters the game ranked 106th nationally in turnover margin at -1.0 per game, while Oklahoma is 10th in the country at +1.0 per game. Last season’s 47 takeaways tied the Nebraska school record, also set in 1972, while Nebraska’s 32 interceptions set a school record. Over the past 30 years, Nebraska has had a positive turnover margin in 27 of those seasons and was even in another season.
NU forced five Western Illinois turnovers in the 2004 opener, including four interceptions. The five takeaways marked the second straight year the Blackshirts had forced five turnovers in the season opener. The Huskers had four takeaways at Pittsburgh, all before half and converted those miscues into 17 points. The Husker defense has now caused five or more turnovers four times in the past 22 games after not having a five-takeaway game in the previous 43 games. In 21 games since the start of the 2003 season, Nebraska has forced at least three turnovers 12 times.
Nebraska’s 13 interceptions are tied for 11th nationally.
In addition to causing turnovers, the Blackshirt defense responded very well to Nebraska’s own turnovers in the first four games. The Husker offense committed 16 turnovers in the first 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 scored just 28 points, with six of those points coming on an interception return for a touchdown by Southern Miss. Texas Tech converted seven Nebraska turnovers into 35 points.
A "Ruud" Awakening
Nebraska senior Mike linebacker Barrett Ruud continues to make a strong case for All-America consideration. The Lincoln native has enjoyed a memorable career in the Husker program and his senior season is shaping up to be his finest in a Husker uniform. Ruud’s 17-tackle performance against Missouri, including four tackles for loss, earned him Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors for the first time in 2004 and the second time in his career.
The 6-2, 240-pound Ruud 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. Both of Ruud’s 2003 totals are in serious jeopardy because of his dominant play this fall.
The dominant presence on a Nebraska defense that ranks ninth nationally against the run, Ruud has a team-leading 120 tackles in 2004, including 72 solo stops. Ruud’s 120 tackles this season rank eighth on the single-season tackle charts. Ruud’s list of Nebraska milestones and records is nearly too long to detail, but includes...
Ruud became Nebraska’s all-time leading tackler on Oct. 9 at Texas Tech. He made 12 tackles in that game to push his career total to 347 stops, surpassing the previous Nebraska record of 342 tackles by Jerry Murtaugh from 1968 to 1970.
Ruud continues to add to the Nebraska tackle standard. After making 11 tackles against Iowa State, Ruud has 409 career tackles, including a school-record 204 solo stops.
Ruud is among a group of seven players in Big 12 history (1996 to present) to record 400 career tackles. He is within 22 tackles (431) of becoming the No. 2 tackler in conference history.
Two weeks ago at Kansas State, Ruud had a career-high 19 tackles, including a school-record 16 solo stops. Ruud has posted four 15-plus tackle games in Big 12 play, and has eight double-figure tackle efforts in nine games this season.
Ruud has 20 double-figure tackle games in his career, including 15 of the past 17 games.
Ruud has led Nebraska in tackles eight times this season and 16 times since the start of the 2003 campaign.
In Nebraska’s past three games, Ruud has eight tackles for loss. His four stops behind the line against Missouri tied a single-game Nebraska record for linebackers.
Ruud’s 15 tackles for loss this season are a team-high and his 47 career tackles for loss are second in school history, trailing only 1997 Lombardi winner Grant Wistrom. Against Missouri, he passed 1993 Butkus winner Trev Alberts (45) and 1985 All-American Jim Skow (44) on NU’s career tackles for loss list.
Ruud became just the fourth player in school history to record more than one season with 100-plus tackles when he cracked the century mark against Missouri. He is one of only three players with two single-season tackle efforts in the Nebraska top 10, joining Lee Kunz and Clete Pillen.
Ruud leads the Big 12 in tackles per game and is among the top five nationally in that category.
Tackling Part of Ruud Family Tradition
During his record-setting 2003 season, Barrett Ruud raced past his father, Tom, on the NU 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.
Tom and Barrett Ruud are the only father-son combination to both lead NU in tackles in a single season. Barrett accomplished the feat last season and will do so in 2004, while Tom’s 104 tackles in 1974 were a team-high.
The Ruud's are the only family combination to both rank in the top 25 on Nebraska's career tackles list.
Barrett and Tom Ruud have a combined 611 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.
The Nebraska defensive backfield is one of the nation’s most experienced units. The Huskers returned three starters for the 2004 season–free safety Josh Bullocks, strong safety Daniel Bullocks and cornerback Fabian Washington. Fifth-year senior Lornell McPherson had played in 38 games and made nine starts entering his senior season.
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 contender for the Thorpe Award. Washington was a third-team All-Big 12 pick and the No. 6 cornerback in the country by The Sporting News heading into the 2004 season.
As a group the Bullocks' brothers, McPherson and Washington have played in 149 career games at Nebraska with a combined 95 starts. They have also combined to intercept 37 passes, led by Josh Bullocks' 13 picks, and break up 80 passes, including 38 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 picked off his second pass of the season against Missouri, pushing his career total to 13 interceptions. Bullocks is second on the Nebraska career interceptions list, just one behind career leader Dana Stephenson. Washington has three interceptions in 2004, giving him 11 in his career, good for a tie for fourth on the Husker career list. Daniel Bullocks has the top 10 in his sights with seven career picks, including a team-high five in 2004. He ranks sixth nationally in interceptions per game at 0.56 per contest.
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 Daniel Bullocks need three more combined interceptions to become the top trio of teammates in career interceptions, and have the rest of 2004 and all of the 2005 season to accomplish the feat.
The 24 combined interceptions of Josh Bullocks and Fabian Washington ties the most by two teammates in school history, matching the 24 combined picks of Stephenson and Kosch who were teammates on the 1969 team.
The Husker secondary has also exhibited its depth this season. McPherson 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 started two games in McPherson’s place, while fifth-year senior Kellen Huston has been a key player throughout the season.
Both Grixby and Huston responded well. Grixby had seven tackles and two pass breakups in his two starts, while Huston had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and seven pass breakups in wins over Kansas and Pittsburgh. Huston’s five breakups at Pittsburgh tied for the third-most in school history. Reserve free safety Andrew Shanle was called on for major duty against Kansas State with Josh Bullocks slowed with an injury. Shanle had seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery against the Wildcats, and blocked a punt and recovered a fumble in Nebraska’s 24-3 win over Missouri.
Excellent Balancing Act
Nebraska’s version of the West Coast Offense has exhibited excellent balance through nine games. The Huskers are averaging 372.0 yards per game overall, including 185.7 yards rushing and 186.3 passing.
Through nine games, Nebraska has rushed 349 times and thrown 254 passes, roughly a 58-42 run-pass ratio. The Huskers have generated 49.9 percent of their total offense on the ground and 50.1 percent through the air. If Nebraska continues at its current run-pass ratio, it would mark the Huskers’ most balanced offense since 1973.
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 in 2004.
The Huskers rank fifth in the Big 12 and 27th nationally in rushing offense at 185.7 yards per game, part of a balanced Nebraska offensive attack. 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.
While running backs coach Randy Jordan has employed a committee-like rotation, Ross has been the chairman of the I-back committee. Ross is averaging 104.1 yards rushing per game, highlighted by a career-high 194 yards in the Huskers’ 24-3 victory over Missouri. Ross capped the career day with a career-long 86-yard run late in the fourth quarter, the eighth-longest run in school history and the longest by a Nebraska I-back since 1992. Ross’ 194 rushing yards were the most by a Nebraska I-back since Dan Alexander rushed for 240 yards against Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl.
Ross continues to churn out strong performances despite battling a painful turf toe injury. He ran for 126 yards on 19 carries at Iowa State and has rushed for more than 100 yards five times in 2004 and eight times in his past 13 games. In addition to his performance against Missouri, Ross also topped 100 yards against Western Illinois (125), Southern Miss (169) and Kansas (107).
Ross topped the 1,000-yard career rushing mark against Southern Miss and continues to climb the NU career rushing list. After topping the century mark at Iowa State, Ross has 1,696 rushing yards, good for 27th in Nebraska history.
In producing eight 100-yard games in the past 13 games since late in the 2004 season, Ross has piled up 1,373 yards (105.7 ypg).
Ross’ 104.1 yards per game ranks fifth in the Big 12 and 20th nationally, while his 133.0 all-purpose yards per game is also fifth in the conference.
Ross is 63 yards from producing the 27th 1,000-yard rushing season in school history.
Ross ranks third for the Huskers with 17 receptions for 231 yards. He has a pair of touchdown receptions, including a 74-yard score against Baylor, the longest reception by a Husker back since 1978.
Other committee members have also had plenty of input on Nebraska’s offense. Redshirt freshman Tierre Green and true freshman Brandon Jackson got off to outstanding starts in the season opener against Western Illinois and have played key roles throughout the year. Junior David Horne gives Nebraska four excellent options at the I-back spot, and gives Nebraska a pair of 1,000-yard career rushers, as he has 1,119 career rushing yards.
Green rushed for 112 yards on seven carries (16.0 ypc) against Western Illinois, including two touchdowns. His rushing total is 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 257 yards on 40 carries (6.4 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 were the most by an NU true freshman since Horne rushed for 122 yards against Kansas in 2002, and the most by a Husker true freshman in a season opener since at least 1973.
Jackson had a breakout game in Nebraska’s victory over Baylor. The native of Horn Lake, Miss., rushed 18 times for 89 yards and his first two career touchdowns. Jackson also sparked Nebraska’s kickoff return game with five returns for 158 yards, including returns of 59 and 40 yards, Nebraska’s two longest returns of the season. Jackson tallied 247 all-purpose yards in the game, the 10th-best total in school history and second-best by a Nebraska freshman. Jackson added his third kickoff return of 40-plus yards against Missouri (40 yards).
In addition to his effort at Baylor, Jackson led Nebraska in rushing at Kansas State, rushing 11 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns. He has rushed for 347 yards this season, the 10th-most by a Nebraska freshman.
Nebraska has had one of its I-backs rush for two touchdowns in each of the last four games–Jackson against Baylor, Kansas State and Iowa State and Ross against Missouri.
The I-back committee has combined for 1,573 yards on 295 carries, an average of 5.33 yards per attempt.
NU Passing Record Falls after 31 Years
One of college football’s more amazing statistical records came to an end in Nebraska’s victory over Baylor. For the first time in school history, the Huskers passed for more than 300 yards. Sophomore quarterback Joe Dailey completed 13-of-20 passes for a school-record 342 yards and five touchdowns.
The Nebraska single-game passing record stood for 387 games.
Dailey moved past 300 yards early in the fourth quarter on a 43-yard strike to tight end Matt Herian. He surpassed the previous Nebraska passing record of 297 yards by Dave Humm against Wisconsin on Sept. 29, 1973.
In his record-setting day, Dailey completed passes to seven receivers, including four players who had more than 60 yards receiving.
Dailey averaged 17.1 yards per attempt and 26.3 yards per completion in the record-setting effort.
Dailey’s 65 percent completion rate, plus five touchdowns without an interception resulted in a 291.14 pass efficiency rating, the third-best single-game rating in Nebraska school history.
Sophomore Dailey Leading NU’s West Coast Attack
Sophomore quarterback Joe Dailey has set several passing records during the 2004 season. The Jersey City, N.J. native threw for a Nebraska record 342 yards in the victory over Baylor, including five touchdown passes and no interceptions. Dailey has topped 200 yards passing three other times this season, including 230 yards at Iowa State. Dailey has completed 47.7 percent of his passes for 1,646 yards, with 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Among Dailey’s passing milestones in 2004 are...
Dailey’s 342 passing yards against Baylor marked the first 300-yard passing day in school history and shattered the old NU single-game passing record by 45 yards (297, Dave Humm vs. Wisconsin, 1973). Dailey also tied the school record with five touchdown passes against the Bears, including four before halftime.
Dailey’s 218 passing yards against Western Illinois marked the first time a Husker had passed for more than 200 yards in five seasons. 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.
Dailey is the first Husker since World War II to throw six touchdown passes in the first two games of a season.
Dailey’s six total touchdowns against Western Illinois 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 against Western Illinois were the most ever by a Husker in a season opener, and his 420 passing yards in the first two games were the most since at least 1946. 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.
Dailey has 1,646 yards passing this season, fourth on the Nebraska-single season list. Dailey surpassed the 1,000-yard passing mark in six games.
Dailey has tied the Nebraska record for pass attempts in a game (42) twice in 2004.
Dailey’s 291.14 pass efficiency rating vs. Baylor was the third-best in school history and the best in 15 years.
Loss of Tight End Herian Impacts Husker Offense
Junior tight end Matt Herian has been one of Nebraska’s key offensive threats each of the past three seasons. The 6-5, 240-pound Herian hauled in seven touchdown catches in his first two seasons and earned All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore. This season he was one of the main beneficiaries of Nebraska’s new offensive attack, catching a team-leading 24 passes before sufferering a fractured left leg against Missouri.
The junior caught seven passes for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the opener against Western Illinois, and tied the Nebraska single-game record for receptions by a tight end with eight catches for 71 yards and a touchdown a week later against Southern Miss. Before his injury, Herian put together a strong 2004 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'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.
Herian, a native of Pierce, Neb., ranks second in school history for receiving yards among tight ends. Herian’s 312 receiving yards this season pushed his career receiving yardage total to 1,097 yards. He is the 12th Husker with 1,000 career receiving yards and just the third tight end. He passed Junior Miller (1,045) in career receiving yards against Baylor and will enter his senior year just 53 yards shy of career tight end leader Tracey Wistrom (1,150). Herian's 53 career receptions are tied for the fourth-most by a Husker tight end, and just eight shy of the career tight end record of 61 catches, set by Jerry List from 1970 to 1972. Additionally, Herian is tied for 19th on the overall receptions list, just eight catches shy of moving into the top 10.
Koch Adding to Husker Walk-On Punting Success
Junior punter Sam Koch had one of the toughest tasks of any Husker entering the 2004 season. A walk-on from Seward, Neb., Koch replaced three-year starter and 2003 All-American Kyle Larson as Nebraska's starting punter. Larson closed his Nebraska career in outstanding fashion, averaging a school-record 45.1 yards per punt in 2004.
Koch has performed well this season, most notably the past two weeks. Koch ranks fifth in the Big 12 averaging 41.2 yards per punt. Two weeks ago against Missouri, Koch averaged 39.5 yards on 10 punts on an extremely windy day. He pinned the Tigers inside their own 20 five times and also had a career-long 65-yard punt. Against Iowa State, Koch averaged 44.5 yards on six punts and pinned ISU inside its 20-yard line four times.
The situation Koch faced was not new to the recent Husker punters. Nebraska has had four straight walk-on punters since 1995, and each of them has performed admirably. Jesse Kosch was Nebraska's starting punter for three straight seasons from 1995 to 1997 and finished his career with a 41.92-yard average to rank third on Nebraska's career punting chart. Kosch was followed by Bill Lafleur, who started one season and ranked fifth nationally in punting in 1998 at 44.94 yards per boot. Lafleur was followed by Dan Hadenfeldt, who handled the chores in 1999 and 2000 and holds Nebraska's career punting average record at 44.54 yards on 104 career punts. Larson was not fazed by the task of replacing Hadenfeldt, as he finished his career averaging 43.67 yards on 195 career punts.
1994 National Championship Team Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary
Nebraska celebrated the 10th anniversary of its run to the 1994 national championshipin conjunction with the 24-3 win over Missouri on Oct. 30. More than 90 members of the 1994 team that went 13-0 and defeated Miami in the Orange Bowl were on hand for festivities that included a Friday night reception and a Tunnel Walk reunion on Saturday before kickoff.
The 1994 Huskers overcame injuries and adversity to give Head Coach Tom Osborne his first of three national championships. The Huskers used three starting quarterbacks in their championship run. Coach Osborne was joined by former assistant coaches Charlie McBride, Milt Tenopir and Dan Young as coaching staff members on hand for the weekend. Captains of the 1994 team were offensive linemen Zach Wiegert and Rob Zatechka, linebacker Ed Stewart and defensive tackle Terry Connealy.
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 season marked just the second time since 1969 that Nebraska has opened the season unranked in the Associated Press Poll (also 2003).
Oklahoma enters this weekend’s matchup ranked second in both polls. Four other Big 12 teams are ranked in at least one poll this week. Texas is No. 6 in the AP poll and seventh in the coaches listing, Texas A&M is 22nd in the AP poll and 23rd by the coaches, Oklahoma State is 24th and 25th, while Texas Tech is 25th in the coaches poll.
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.
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 have also seen 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 now use Gate 15.
Husker Personnel, Injury Update
Nebraska took a significant hit on the injury front against Missouri when All-Big 12 tight end Matt Herian went down with a fractured left leg. Herian was injured while blocking on a second-quarter rushing play. Senior Dusty Keiser has seen significant action all season at tight end and moved into the top position at tight end. Redshirt freshman J.B. Phillips had seen more action in recent weeks and his role expanded in Herian’s absence.
The Huskers are in relatively good shape late in the season aside from the injury to Herian. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Adams, a transfer from Grossmont (Calif.) College, has not played this season. Adams had his spleen removed on Friday, Aug. 27 but returned to practice on a limited basis the week before the Pittsburgh contest.
Several Husker newcomers have made their mark in 2004. Six Husker first-timers made their debut in the season opener and eight true freshmen have played through nine games.
True freshman wide receiver Terrence Nunn was the first Husker rookie to make noise in 2004. Nunn was in the starting lineup in the opener, and 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 started the Pittsburgh and Kansas games at right corner in place of the injured Lornell McPherson.
Three other true freshman have made their debuts since the season opener. Two frosh made their debuts on special teams in game two, including receiver Santino Panico who is serving as NU’s punt returner and linebacker Lance Brandenburgh who has played on Husker coverage units. Quarterback Beau Davis played the majority of the second half in Nebraska’s loss at Texas Tech.
NCAA-Record 267 Consecutive Sellouts
Nebraska boasts an incredible NCAA-record 267 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 178, 89 fewer than Nebraska.
The Huskers are 237-30 during the 267 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 148-14 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 closes its 2004 home schedule on Nov. 26 against Colorado, which will push the sellout streak to 268 games.
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 105-7 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 472-126-20 (.780, 618 games, 115 years) in Lincoln, 347-103-13 (.763, 463 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 116-9 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 (233 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 786-315-40 record in 1,141 games (.706) in 115 years of football. In the last 36 years, NU is tops, posting a record of 352-74-5 for an .823 winning percentage (431 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.
NU One Win from Qualifying for NCAA-Record 36th Consecutive Bowl Appearance
Nebraska needs one more victory to reach six wins and qualify the Huskers for an NCAA-record 36th consecutive bowl trip. 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 own a remarkable 42 consecutive winning regular seasons and have posted 41 winning seasons in the last 42 years. Nebraska needs one more victory to reach a 43rd consecutive winning regular season. 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.
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 420-92-5 record (.817).
All-Americans Call Nebraska Home
Free safety Josh Bullocks and punter Kyle Larson are the latest players to add their names to Nebraska's prestigious list of All-Americans, receiving honors in 2003. Larson was named a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, while Bullocks was tabbed by The Sporting News.
Larson and Bullocks' All-America selections added to Nebraska’s long list of All-Americans, beginning with tackle Vic Halligan in 1914. The Huskers have had at least one All-American in all but two (1991, 1998) of the past 34 years. Overall, Nebraska has seen 92 different players earn first-team All-America honors from at least one recognized source with 14 winning double honors for a total of 106 first-team awards. Nebraska had its most All-Americans in one season when six Huskers earned first-team honors in the 1971 national championship campaign. The offensive line is Nebraska’s most honored position, with 26 players earning 31 first-team All-America certificates.
Huskers 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, five Huskers are on track to finish their undergraduate work in December. Another 12 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.
Eleven Huskers Nominated for CoSIDA All-America Honors
Eleven Huskers have been nominated for academic All-America honors in 2004. To be eligible for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, a player must be a starter or significant reserve and carry a 3.2 or higher cumulative grade-point average. Players nominated in 2004 include senior place-kicker Sandro DeAngelis, senior cornerback Kellen Huston, sophomore center Kurt Mann, junior offensive lineman Gary Pike, sophomore defensive back Brandon Rigoni, senior linebacker Barrett Ruud, sophomore safety Andrew Shanle, junior safety Shane Siegel, senior linebacker Chad Sievers, junior defensive back Blake Tiedtke and sophomore fullback Dane Todd.
Huskers Top Big 12 in Graduation Rates
For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Nebraska Athletic Department leads the Big 12 Conference in the Exhausted Eligibility Graduation Rate. Nebraska’s rate increased by another percentage point to 91 percent, posting an improved rate for the fifth straight year. The Exhausted Eligibility Rate surveys the graduation of scholarship student-athletes who entered the University of Nebraska from 1988-89 through 1997-98 and exhausted their athletic eligibility at the University of Nebraska.
Nebraska’s Exhausted Eligibility Graduation Rate is eight percentage points higher than the national average (83 percent). NU’s four-class rate for football student-athletes entering in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 ranks second in the Big 12, at 63 percent, 10 percentage points higher than the national average and nine points higher than the UNL average of 54 percent. Nebraska is the only Big 12 University that has ranked among the top three in the conference since the Big 12 was formed in 1996.
Nebraska’s one-class average, for football student-athletes entering school in 1997, is 72 percent, 17 percentage points higher than the national average and 13 points higher than the UNL average of 59 percent.
Two members of this year’s senior class (Steve Kriewald, Ira Cooper) have already earned their degrees 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.