Huskers Roll Past Bulldogs, 49-10
Lincoln - Fueled by a flurry of career firsts, a balanced offensive attack and a dominating performance by the Blackshirts, Nebraska rolled past Louisiana Tech, 49-10, in Saturday's season-opener in front of a school-record 85,181 fans.
The victory marked Nebraska's 21st consecutive season-opening win, dating back to a 17-13 loss to Florida State in the 1985 season opener. The Huskers' 21 straight victories in season openers is the longest streak in the nation.
Offensively, NU threw for 332 yards and rushed for 252 more in amassing 584 total yards, the most in the Bill Callahan era. Seven different players scored a touchdown, including four Huskers who found the end zone for the first time in their career. Nebraska's balanced attack allowed the Huskers to dominate time of possession, where NU enjoyed an advantage of better than 10 minutes.
Senior quarterback Zac Taylor tied a career high with three touchdown passes, with each touchdown toss coming to a different Husker tight end. Taylor finished the game 22-of-33 for 287 yards.
Sophomore Cody Glenn paced the rushing attack, running for 88 yards on 13 carries. Fellow sophomore Marlon Lucky added 79 yards on 13 carries and scored his first career touchdown. In his Husker debut, Kenny Wilson rushed a game-high 15 times for 47 yards, while junior Brandon Jackson totaled 36 yards on three carries, including a spectacular 25-yard touchdown run.
The receiving corps was busy all afternoon as 10 different players caught at least one pass. Junior Terrence Nunn led the way with a team-high five catches for 54 yards. Playing in his first game since the 2004 season, senior Matt Herian made three grabs for a team-high 61 yards. Herian also became Nebraska's tight end career receiving yardage leader after his final catch.
Saturday's game began with a pregame ceremony that included the display of a large "Power of Red" banner and the performance of "God Bless the USA" by grammy award-winning artist Lee Greenwood before the Huskers took the Tunnel Walk onto the field from North Stadium for the first time since the 1973 season. Highlighting the first tunnel walk on the new HuskerVision big screen was the appearance of legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson, who whipped the crowd into a frenzy by stating there was no place better to be than Memorial Stadium on a college football Saturday.
The crowd's excitement carried over to the field as the Blackshirts held Louisiana Tech to a three-and-out on the game's first series. The possession was highlighted by an Adam Carriker seven-yard sack, marking the Huskers' first sack of the season after leading the nation with 50 in 2005.
After both teams failed to muster much offense in their first two possessions, the offenses took control of the game in the second quarter as Nebraska and Louisiana Tech combined to put points on the board in the final five possessions of the first half. NU scored on a touchdown on its final three possessions of the first half and found the end zone on four straight drives from the first to the third quarter.
Taylor opened the scoring when he found Herian on a 13-yard touchdown pass that capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive and put NU ahead 7-0. The touchdown reception was the 11th of Herian's career and marked his first reception since Oct. 30, 2004 against Missouri.
Louisiana Tech wasted no time in responding, as the Bulldogs marched 80 yards on their ensuing drive, which culminated with a 23-yard Danny Horwedel field goal to close the gap to 7-3.
Nebraska immediately answered the Bulldogs' field goal with a 12-play, 74-yard touchdown drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown run by Lucky, the first of his career. After a pair of completions, including a 14-yard catch by junior Frantz Hardy on a third-and-nine play, NU rushed eight straight times to cover the final 49 yards of the drive.
Louisiana Tech cut the Huskers' lead to 14-10 when quarterback Zac Champion found Johnathan Holland on a 39-yard touchdown strike. NU then perfectly executed its two-minute offense as the Huskers covered 78 yards in just 2:28 with Glenn rushing over the right side for a one-yard touchdown plunge that gave Nebraska a 21-10 halftime advantage.
On the final touchdown drive, Taylor was brilliant in directing the Husker offense. The senior connected on 8-of-9 passes on the drive, including finding six different receivers.
Nebraska carried its momentum into the second half as the Huskers found the endzone on their opening drive. Taylor continued right where he left off, as he completed 4-of-4 passes on the drive including back-to-back strikes to Herian and sophomore Nate Swift for gains of 31 and 21 yards, respectively. The Huskers went up 28-10 when Taylor found junior J.B. Phillips on a 6-yard touchdown pass, the first of Phillips' career.
NU continued to add to its impressive offensive showing as Taylor threw his third touchdown pass to yet another tight end. This time, it was Josh Mueller who caught a 6-yard pass to cap a seven-play, 67-yard drive that put NU ahead 35-10 with 11:56 remaining in the game. The catch also marked the first touchdown of Mueller's career.
Jackson provided perhaps the best highlight of the game when he broke several tackles and dragged a final defender over the goal line on his 25-yard touchdown run that increased the Huskers' lead to 42-10.
Sophomore quarterback Joe Ganz closed out the scoring when he hooked up with Hunter Teafatiller on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 3:21 remaining. It was the first touchdown pass of Ganz's career, as well as the first career catch for Teafatiller.
Ganz finished the game 2-of-3 for 45 yards and one touchdown.
While the offense was lighting up the scoreboard for 28 second-half points, the Blackshirts held the Bulldogs off the scoreboard over the game's final 30 minutes. After scoring on two consecutive possessions in the second quarter, the NU defense kept the Louisiana offense in check for the rest of the game, limiting Tech to 305 yards of total offense while forcing three turnovers and recording two sacks.
With the Blackshirts shutting down the Louisiana Tech offense and the Husker offense rolling, Nebraska closed the game with 35 unanswered points to pull away from a 14-10 lead.
Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9 when the Huskers host Nicholls State at 12:30 p.m.