Huskers Battle Tigers for Big 12 North Lead
Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium this Saturday for Homecoming, with the Missouri Tigers the visitors in a key Big 12 Conference North Division matchup. The teams enter Saturday’s game tied for the lead in the North Division with 2-2 conference records, one game ahead of the other four schools in the division. The game between Nebraska and Missouri is set for an 11:10 a.m. kickoff, and will be televised nationally on FSN.
The Huskers and Tigers both come into Saturday’s game coming off tough losses last weekend. Nebraska dropped its second straight road contest in a 45-21 loss at Kansas State. The Huskers battled back to within 24-21 in the third quarter of the game in Manhattan, but committed four fourth-quarter turnovers and the Wildcats pulled away for the convincing victory.
Missouri also dropped to .500 in Big 12 play last weekend with a 20-17 loss at home against Oklahoma State. The Tigers led the game 17-0 late in the first half, but were unable to hold the lead, and the Cowboys capped the comeback with a game-winning field goal with less than one minute remaining. Missouri has lost two straight games after a 4-1 start. The Tigers were ranked as high as 17th in the national polls earlier this season.
The Huskers saw a 24-game winning streak in the series end last season in a 41-24 loss to Mizzou in Columbia. However, the Huskers will carry two long streaks into Saturday’s matchup. Nebraska has won 13 straight games against the Tigers in Lincoln since a 35-31 loss in 1978. The Huskers will also be looking for their 36th consecutive victory on Homecoming, since a 1968 Homecoming loss to Kansas State.
Huskers Fall in Road Game at Kansas State
Nebraska fell behind by 14 points early in the first quarter and was unable to overcome a strong rushing performance by Kansas State in a 45-21 Wildcat win on Saturday. With the loss, Nebraska slipped to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in Big 12 Conference play, while Kansas State improved to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the league.
Quarterback Allen Webb, starting in place of KSU’s regular starter Dylan Meier who sat out with an injury, carried 34 times for 147 yards and four touchdowns, while running back Darren Sproles added 135 yards and two scores on 22 carries. The Wildcats rolled to 294 rushing yards against the Huskers.
The Wildcats outgained NU, 418-222, including a 294-106 edge in rushing yardage. KSU also carried a major advantage in time of possession and total plays, as KSU controlled the ball for 37:53 and ran 84 plays, compared to a 22:07 time of possession and just 46 total plays for the Huskers. Despite KSU’s control statistically, the Huskers trailed just 24-21 midway through the third quarter after NU strong safety Daniel Bullocks returned a botched Wildcat punt snap 10 yards for a touchdown. But the Huskers could get no closer. NU went into the foruth quarter trailing 31-21, before committing turnovers on four consecutive possessions, as KSU pulled away down the stretch.
Freshman I-back Brandon Jackson provided several highlights for the Huskers by rushing 11 times for 57 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback Joe Dailey completed just 3-of-12 passes for 116 yards and one interception, and also committed a pair of fumbles.
Kansas State opened the game with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by 13-yard touchdown run by Webb. After forcing the Huskers to go three-and-out on their first drive, the Wildcats extended the lead to 14-0 with an 11-play, 49-yard scoring drive that took five minutes, capped by Webb’s second touchdown run of the day.
The Huskers got a spark on a shovel pass from Dailey to Cory Ross that went for 63 yards and set up Jackson’s 20-yard touchdown run to cut the Wildcat lead to 14-7 with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats pushed the lead back to 14 points early in the second quarter, but Nebraska responded quickly again, as Dailey hit Terrence Nunn on a 55-yard strike down the middle of the field to set up Jackson’s second touchdown run of the day on a two-yard plunge with 8:43 left in the first half. Jackson’s run capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive that took 3:29. Kansas State added a 40-yard Joe Rheem field goal in the closing seconds of the first half to push its lead to 10 points at 24-14.
After Nebraska stalled on its initial drive of the second half, Sam Koch provided a highlight with a career-long 59-yard punt that buried the Wildcats at the 10-yard line. Andrew Shanle stopped the Wildcats on the ensuing driving with a sack of Webb. On Kansas State’s punt, the snap hit the KSU upback and was scooped up by Daniel Bullocks who sprinted 10 yards for a touchdown to cut the Wildcat lead to 24-21 early in the third quarter.
Recapping Game Seven...Kansas State 45, Nebraska 21
The loss was NU’s third straight against Kansas State, marking the Wildcats’ first three-game win streak in the series. Kansas State has won the past four meetings between the two schools in Manhattan.
Nebraska quarterback Joe Dailey completed a 63-yard pass to Cory Ross in the first quarter and a 55-yard strike to Terrence Nunn in the second quarter. Both of the long pass plays set up Nebraska touchdowns. Dailey has now completed four passes of 55 yards or longer in the past 10 quarters, including 74-yard passes against both Texas Tech and Baylor.
True freshman I-back Brandon Jackson scored two touchdowns in today’s game and has scored four touchdowns in Nebraska’s last two games. Jackson led Nebraska in rushing for the second straight week, carrying 11 times for 57 yards.
Junior I-back Cory Ross continues to be a receiving threat out of the Husker backfield. Ross caught a 63-yard pass in the first quarter and now has 14 receptions for 231 yards on the season.
Junior strong safety Daniel Bullocks returned a third-quarter botched punt snap 10 yards for a touchdown to cut the K-State lead to 24-21. The return for a touchdown was Nebraska’s first return of any kind for a touchdown since his brother, Josh Bullocks, returned a blocked punt 26 yards for a touchdown last season against Iowa State. It also marked Nebraska’s first non-offensive touchdown of the season and the first touchdown of Daniel Bullocks’ career.
Kansas State rushed for 294 yards, the most by a Husker opponent in 2004 and the most against Nebraska since Texas rushed for 353 yards last season in Austin.
The 55-yard reception by Nebraska freshman Terrence Nunn in the second quarter was a career long.
Sophomore linebacker Stewart Bradley collected three tackles for loss in the first half and finished the contest with seven total tackles. Bradley had two TFL’s in the first half against Baylor the previous week, before being sidelined by injury in the second half of that game.
Senior linebacker Barrett Ruud made a career-high 19 tackles, extending his team-high total to 92 in 2004, and his career tackle total to 381, as he continues to build Nebraska’s career tackle mark. Ruud’s previous career high was 17 at Texas in 2003. He also set a school record with 16 solo stops against the Wildcats.
Ruud also had a one-yard sack and three total tackles for loss, moving his career TFL total to 42, good for fourth place on the Nebraska career tackles for loss chart. Ruud also caused a fourth-quarter fumble that prevented a Kansas State touchdown.
Junior punter Sam Koch had a career-long 59-yard punt on his first attempt of the second half.
1994 National Championship Team to Celebrate 10-Year Anniversary
Nebraska will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its run to the 1994 national championship this weekend. Approximately 90 members of the 1994 team that went 13-0 and defeated Miami in the Orange Bowl will be on hand this weekend. A reception is planned for Friday night at Memorial Stadium and the team members will be honored on the field during pregame ceremonies on Saturday.
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 and former defensive coordinator Charlie McBride are among the members of the coaching staff who will be on hand for this weekend’s festivities.
Captains of the 1994 team were offensive linemen Zach Wiegert and Rob Zatechka, linebacker Ed Stewart and defensive tackle Terry Connealy. Stewart will be among those in attendance, but has a dual role this weekend as he is also in town on business. Stewart is an associate athletic director at Missouri and is part of the Tigers’ travel party this weekend.
Scouting the Missouri Tigers
Missouri travels to Lincoln for one of the top matchups in the Big 12 North this season, as the Huskers and Tigers enter the weekend with a share of the division lead. The Tigers are looking for their first victory in Lincoln since 1978, as the Huskers have won 13 straight at home over Missouri.
The Tigers come into the matchup with a potent combination of explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball and a dominating defense. MU ranks among the national leaders in six statistical categories, including pass defense (3rd), turnover margin (7th), total defense (15th), pass efficiency defense (15th), scoring defense (18th) and rushing offense (23rd).
Quarterback Brad Smith has garnered most of the headlines for the Tigers the past two seasons, and for good reason. The junior signal-caller has thrown for 1,291 yards and 13 touchdowns against six interceptions. Smith is also a threat to move the chains with his feet as he has rushed for 410 yards and three touchdowns.
Joining Smith in the backfield, tailback Damien Nash has helped power the Tiger ground game with 610 rushing yards including a team-high seven touchdowns. Nash leads the squad with eight total touchdowns with one receiving score, as he ranks fourth on the squad with 18 receptions for 126 yards.
Tight end Victor Sesay paces the squad with 23 catches for 226 yards while wide receiver Sean Coffey has become Smith’s favorite scoring target. Coffey is second on the team with 22 receptions for a team-best 348 yards and six scores. Thomson Omboga rounds out MU’s trio of 20-plus-catch receivers, as he has 21 receptions for 194 yards.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus has the Tigers flying to the ball. MU has allowed opponents just 146.1 passing yards and 283.4 total yards per game to rank among the best units in the country. Linebacker James Kinney leads the charge with 56 tackles while free safety Jason Simpson owns 55 tackles with six tackles for loss, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. C.J. Mosley has 38 tackles including a team-best 10.5 tackles for loss while defensive end Brian Smith leads the team with six sacks.
Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel
Coach Gary Pinkel (Kent State, 1975) is in his fourth season guiding Missouri where he owns a 21-21 record. As a head coach, Pinkel owns a 94-58-3 career record in his 14th season.
Pinkel has revived the Tiger program over the past four years, as the team went 4-7 and 5-7 in his first two seasons before earning an 8-5 mark last year, including an appearance in the 2003 Independence Bowl. The Tigers are challenging for the Big 12 North crown this season with a 4-3 overall record, including a 2-2 mark in league play that ties the Huskers for the North lead.
This is not Pinkel’s first successful run as a coach. He spent 10 seasons in charge of the program at Toledo, where he accumulated 73 wins, including four eight-win seasons. Pinkel helped the Rockets to an undefeated, 10-0-1, campaign in 1995 and a 10-1 record in 2000, while suffering just one sub-.500 season (4-7 in 1993).
Nebraska-Missouri Series...NU leads, 61-33-3
The Huskers and Tigers meet for the 98th time in series history Saturday in Lincoln with Nebraska holding a commanding 61-33-3 series advantage. NU holds a 31-14-1 lead in Lincoln, including a 26-13-1 mark in Memorial Stadium.
Missouri snapped a 24-game Husker winning streak last year. Overall, Nebraska owns a 33-8 record against the Tigers since 1963, including a 17-4 mark at home.
Both teams enter the weekend matchup outside the national top 25, marking just the second time since 1968 that neither team was ranked. The other time came two years ago in Lincoln, when the Huskers held on for a 24-13 victory over the Tigers.
Big Plays Help NU Against Tigers
Nebraska lost to Missouri last season in Columbia, the Huskers’ first loss in the series since 1978. However, Nebraska did continue a recent tradition of big plays against the Tigers, as Mark LeFlore caught a 55-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first score.
The Huskers have had at least one scrimmage play or return of 50 yards or more in each of the last eight meetings with Missouri, including plays of 89 yards or more in three of the last four meetings. Overall, Nebraska has had five runs, two pass plays and four returns that have covered more than 50 yards against the Tigers since 1996, including:
Ahman Green runs of 56 and 70 yards in a 51-7 win in 1996
A 51-yard Joe Walker kickoff return in a 45-38 overtime win in Columbia in 1997
Shevin Wiggins' 53-yard punt return in NU's 20-13 victory in 1998
A 53-yard TD pass from Eric Crouch to Bobby Newcombe and a 57-yard run by Correll Buckhalter in 1999
Newcombe's 94-yard punt return touchdown and Buckhalter's 58-yard run in a 42-24 win in Lincoln in 2000
Crouch's record-setting 95-yard touchdown run in NU's 36-3 win in Columbia in 2001
An 89-yard punt return touchdown by DeJuan Groce in a 24-13 Husker victory in 2002
LeFlore’s 55-yard TD catch from Jammal Lord last season in Columbia
The Huskers have made big plays in the passing game the past three weeks, with four passes of 55 yards or longer, including a pair of 74-yard pass plays, NU’s longest of the season.
Huskers, MU Have History of Tight Tussles
The Nebraska-Missouri series has long been regarded as one of the hardest-hitting, hotly contested matchups in the Big Eight and now Big 12 Conference. Although Nebraska piled up a 24-game win streak in the series before last season’s setback in Columbia, the matchups between the schools have often come down to the final quarter and final minutes.
During Nebraska’s 24-game win streak, 10 of Nebraska’s victories were by 11 points or fewer, including a 45-38 overtime victory in 1997. Tight games in the series go back further than the Huskers’ recent win streak. Since 1954, the Husker-Tiger clash has been decided by 11 points or fewer in 28 of 50 seasons, including four one-point decisions.
The last three matchups in Lincoln have not been decided until the fourth quarter (see graphic), however Missouri has not posted a victory in Lincoln since 1978, a span of 13 straight NU wins over Missouri at Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska Hopes to Continue Happy Homecoming Tradition
Saturday’s matchup with Missouri will be Homecoming at Nebraska, and the Huskers have a long history of success in front of their alumni. Nebraska has won 35 straight Homecoming contests since a 12-0 loss to Kansas State in 1968. That game also marked the last time Nebraska was shut out at home. The Huskers improved to 70-19-4 all-time on Homecoming with last year’s 48-12 victory over Texas A&M. Nebraska has won 16 of its last 18 Homecoming contests by 17 points or more. Nebraska is 10-5-1 all-time against Missouri on Homecoming, most recently a 69-21 victory in 1990.
Blackshirts Look to Re-Establish Run Defense Against Missouri
The Nebraska Blackshirt defense will face a tough rushing test for the second straight week this Saturday. Nebraska boasted one of the nation’s best run defenses for the first six games of the season, but Kansas State pounded out 294 yards rushing in a 45-21 victory last Saturday in Manhattan. The rushing total by the Wildcats was nearly three times larger than the previous opponent season high against Nebraska (105, Kansas). Missouri enters the game fifth in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally in rushing offense at 189.0 yards per game.
The Huskers are now allowing 99.3 rushing yards per game, second in the Big 12 and 13th nationally. Oklahoma leads the Big 12, holding opponents to 76.4 yards rushing per game. The Huskers succeeded early in the season making opposing offenses one-dimensional by shutting down the running game.
Nebraska had a streak of 25 straight quarters without allowing a rushing touchdown end against Texas Tech. 4Nebraska has allowed just four runs of longer than 20 yards in the first seven 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 18 sacks this season, including a team-high three by sophomore defensive end Jay Moore, and 2.5 by junior defensive end Wali Muhammad and senior linebacker Barrett Ruud.The Huskers have 54 total tackles for loss, led by Ruud who has 10 tackles for loss.
2004 Blackshirts Hope to Turn Around Turnover Trend vs. Tigers
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. This season Nebraska has 16 takeaways in seven games, including 11 interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
The turnover battle will be important against Missouri. Nebraska ranks 113th nationally in turnover margin at -1.57 per game, while the Tigers enter the game seventh in the country in that category at +1.43 per contest. The Tigers have committed just nine turnovers in the season’s first seven games.
Last season, the Husker defense had 47 takeaways, the second-best total in the country. The 47 takeaways last season 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 20 games after not having a five-takeaway game in the previous 43 games. In 20 games since the start of the 2003 season, Nebraska has forced at least three turnovers 12 times.
Nebraska’s 11 interceptions are tied for eighth 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.
All-America Candidate Ruud Continues to Pile up Tackles
Nebraska senior Mike linebacker Barrett Ruud has enjoyed a memorable career in the Husker program and 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 reached another milestone at Texas Tech on Oct. 9. The senior made 12 tackles against the Red Raiders, pushing his career tackle total to 347, surpassing the previous Nebraska record of 342 tackles by Jerry Murtaugh from 1968 to 1970. Ruud continues to add to the new Nebraska tackle standard. Last week at Kansas State, Ruud had a career-high 19 tackles, including a school-record 16 solo stops. In the game he also recorded three tackles for loss and forced a fumble. Ruud leads the 2004 Huskers with 92 tackles and his career total now stands at 381.
Ruud has posted 15-tackle efforts in three of the past four games. In addition to his career-high 19 tackles at Kansas State, Ruud had 15 tackles each in wins over Baylor and Kansas. Ruud has recorded double-figure tackle totals in six of seven games this season and 18 times in his career, including 13 of the past 15 games.
In addition to leading the 2004 Huskers in total tackles, Ruud’s 10 tackles for loss are tops on the team. Ruud has 42 career tackles for loss to rank in a tie for fourth on the Husker chart, just three tackles for loss from the second spot on the list.
During his record-setting 2003 season, 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 Nebraska in tackles in a single season. Barrett accomplished the feat last season, 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 583 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.
The Sporting News listed the unit as the top defensive backfield in the nation, while Lindy's ranked the unit second and Athlon Sports tabbed 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 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 141 career games at Nebraska with a combined 87 starts. They have also combined to intercept 35 passes, led by Josh Bullocks' 12 picks, and break up 69 passes, including 34 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 one in 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 career picks each. Daniel Bullocks leads the 2004 Huskers with four interceptions and ranks sixth nationally in interceptions per game at 0.57 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 McPherson or Daniel Bullocks 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 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 have 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.
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 Joe Dailey has been the man under the microscope as Nebraska’s starting quarterback. Dailey rebounded from a difficult performance in Nebraska’s loss at Texas Tech with a record-setting day in the Huskers’ 59-27 victory over Baylor. The Jersey City, N.J. native threw for a Nebraska record 342 yards in the victory, including five touchdown passes and no interceptions.
In addition to his record-setting performance against Baylor, Dailey topped 200 yards passing in each of the season’s first two games. Through seven games, Dailey has completed 51.1 percent of his passes for 1,390 yards, with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The 6-0, 205-pound Dailey has recorded several passing accomplishments in 2004, including...
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 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 against Western Illinois were the most ever by a Husker in a season opener. Dailey’s 420 passing yards in the first two games of the season 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 1,390 yards passing this season, just 50 yards from cracking the top 10 on NU’s single-season passing list. Dailey surpassed the 1,000-yard passing mark in six games, and his 1,274 yards passing through six games was the most ever by a Husker quarterback in the first six games, surpassing Dave Humm’s 1,227 yards in the first six games of 1972. Humm threw for 271 yards in game seven in 1973, for a seven-game total of 1,498 yards passing en route to a season record 2,074 yards.
Dailey’s 291.14 pass efficiency rating vs. Baylor was the third-best in school history and the best in 15 years.
West Coast Offense Makes Exciting Debut in 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 total yards, their most since posting 595 total yards in a victory over McNeese State in 2002. The Huskers’ 56-point output was the most by Nebraska in 41 games, dating back to a 66-17 victory over Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl. Nebraska surpassed its point total with 59 points in the win over Baylor.
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.
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 is 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 in a 56-17 Nebraska 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. The Mackey Award candidate has had 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. Jeff Kinney caught 17 passes out of the backfield in a two-game stretch against Missouri (8) and Kansas (9) in 1969.
Herian has 23 catches in 2004, after pulling down 22 receptions in 13 games during his sophomore season. He is eight receptions from 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, a native of Pierce, Neb., is closing in on the Nebraska career record for receiving yardage by a tight end. Herian’s 302 receiving yards this season have pushed his career receiving yardage total to 1,087 yards. Herian 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 is just 63 yards shy of career tight end leader Tracey Wistrom (1,150). Herian's 52 career receptions are the fifth-most ever by a Husker tight end, and just nine shy of the career tight end record of 61 catches, set by Jerry List from 1970 to 1972. Additionally, Herian is tied for 21st on the overall receptions list, just nine 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.
The Huskers rank 30th nationally in rushing offense at 181.0 yards per game. 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 88.1 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 Missouri game with 1,376 career rushing yards, 36th in school history.
Ross has three 100-yard rushing games in 2004, and six in his last 11 games.
Ross’ 88.1 yards per game ranks seventh in the Big 12 and 43rd nationally, while his 125.3 all-purpose yards per game is also seventh in the conference.
Ross ranks third for the Huskers with 14 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 1,113 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 259 yards on 35 carries (7.0 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 again led Nebraska in rushing at Kansas State, rushing 11 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns. He has rushed for 296 yards on 62 carries, an average of 4.8 yards per rush.
The I-back committee has combined for 1,193 yards on 235 carries, an average of 5.08 yards per attempt.
2004 Husker Schedule Full of Challenges
Nebraska is in the midst of a daunting 2004 schedule, as it looks for 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 included 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 home action against Kansas (Tangerine Bowl) and Baylor. Nebraska’s remaining home schedule includes games against Missouri (Oct. 30, Independence Bowl) and Colorado (Nov. 26). The Huskers face a difficult league road slate. The Huskers have traveled to Texas Tech (Houston Bowl), and Kansas State (Fiesta Bowl), with remaining road trips to 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 season marked just the second time since 1969 that Nebraska has opened the season unranked in the Associated Press Poll (also 2003).
Oklahoma (Nov. 13) is the only team on Nebraska’s remaining 2004 schedule that is currently nationally ranked as the Sooners check in at No. 2 in both polls. Three other Big 12 teams are ranked in at least one poll this week. Texas is No. 8 in the AP poll and ninth in the coaches listing, Texas A&M is ranked 16th by AP and 17th by the coaches, while Oklahoma State is 20th in both polls. Non-conference opponent Southern Miss is 25th in both polls, while Missouri, Texas Tech and Pittsburgh 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.
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
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 seven 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.
Four true freshman have made their debuts since the season opener. Three frosh 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 have played on Husker coverage units. Quarterback Beau Davis played the majority of the second half in Nebraska’s loss at Texas Tech.
Nebraska has made it through the first half of 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.
NCAA-Record 267 Consecutive Sellouts
Nebraska boasts an incredible NCAA-record 267 consecutive sellouts at Memorial Stadium, including the Missouri game. 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 236-30 during the 266 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 147-14 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 104-7 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 471-126-20 (.780, 617 games, 115 years) in Lincoln, 346-103-13 (.763, 462 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 115-9 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 (232 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 785-314-40 record in 1,139 games (.707) in 115 years of football. In the last 36 years, NU is tops, posting a record of 351-73-5 for an .824 winning percentage (429 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 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 own a remarkable 42 consecutive winning regular seasons and have posted 41 winning seasons 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.
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 419-91-5 record (.818).
Huskers a Regular in National Polls
Nebraska is currently unranked, but historically is a regular visitor to the national polls. Including the Oct. 24 AP poll, Nebraska has been ranked in 538 of 562 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 nine polls of 2004). Additionally, Nebraska has been ranked in the AP top 10 for at least one week in 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.
Eleven Huskers Nominated for CoSIDA All-America Honors
Eleven Huskers have been nominated for the 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
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 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.