There will come a "some day" when Nebraska
football fans will reflect on the Huskers' 2004 run-in with
Pittsburgh and laugh.
Nebraska held off the Panthers in the final
minutes of the fourth quarter Saturday and came home from with a
"Yeah, boy! I remember when Callahan
brought that West Coast offense out here. It was pretty dicey for
This prognostication presumes that the WCO
eventually will be mastered by Nebraska, and that 10-win seasons
will again become as predictable as the annual increase in your
Nebraska could easily have lost to
Linebacker Barrett Ruud summed it up nicely.
"We really got to play a lot better and
close people out in the second half."
Tight end Matt Herian was as accurate, and
almost as succinct.
"We didn't perform near to our capability
in the second half. That's kind of [the] story all year. We just
got to tip our hats to the defense because they kept us in the game
and won it for us."
NU scored 24 points during a first half
wherein they could, and should, have scored at least 28. Probably
The win lifted NU to 2-1. Pittsburgh is
The great majority of NU fans are providing
first-year Coach Bill Callahan and his charges with a cushion of
good will within which to work. There are two reasons for
One is that Nebraskans have at least a
modicum of fairness about them. It is a new system and a new
Another is that, as the era of former Coach
Frank Solich drew to a close, Nebraska fans got a whiff of trouble
on the way. They sensed that the Husker program was a vehicle
headed downhill without benefit of ABS. The ones with IQs that
exceed pigskin have come to understand that being a perpetual
powerhouse is not a birthright.
Nebraskans want Callahan to lead them out of
the wilderness and they understand it will take time. They won't
give him the biblical 40 years that Moses enjoyed, but they will
give him time.
Nebraska is idle this weekend. The Huskers
will face Big 12 rival Kansas on October 2.
In the early going Saturday, quarterback Joe
Dailey's receivers were about as dependable as Shaquille O'Neal at
the free-throw line. They dropped at least four passes that should
have been handled.
Time and again it was the defense that dealt
Dailey and company good cards, forcing four first-half turnovers
(three interceptions and a recovered fumble) and giving their
offensive colleagues good field position.
Nebraska's special teams play also caused
problems. Immediately following NU's first touchdown, Pitt's Marcus
Furman returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a
Despite often heroic effort by the defense,
riddled with injuries in the secondary on this day, Nebraska
watched a 24-10 halftime lead dwindle.
After Dailey was intercepted in the fourth
quarter, Pittsburgh's mounted an impressive drive. Quarterback
Tyler Palko tossed a TD pass with 4:45 left on the
NU was stifled on its next possession and
punted. (Nebraska didn't score on its last eight
Nebraska managed to eat up some of the fourth
quarter clock, thanks in substantial part to a wrong-headed pass
interference penalty levied against Pittsburgh. (It happens to
When they finally got the ball, the Panthers
mounted an impressive drive.
With seconds left in the game, Pittsburgh was
at the Husker 14 yard line. A substitution penalty moved the
Panthers back, and a prayerful last-gasp pass by quarterback Tyler
Palko went unanswered.
Whew! For a few minutes it was
beginning to look like NU might fold, as it did against Southern
Mississippi the week before. NU led 17-9 in the third period, but
eventually lost, 21-17.
Saturday's victory decidedly belonged to NU's
defense. Pittsburgh managed just 108 yards in the first three
quarters. They managed 150 in the fourth period, but the Black
Shirts came through when it counted.
Nebraska managed only 75 total yards in the
second half, completed one pass and had only five first
What was maddeningly obvious at the outset
was that Nebraska had the offensive talent to really wallop the
What became evident in the second half was
that NU had lost traction – mentally. The wet field caused
problems for Cory Ross and other Husker running backs; but let's
remember that while NU was playing on a wet field the guys from
Pittsburgh weren't playing on a dry one.
Nebraska will play Kansas in Lincoln on
1 2 3 4 -
10 14 0 0 -
7 3 0 7 -
NEB - S.DeAngelis 26 field goal 7:16
NEB - C.Ross 2 run (S.DeAngelis kick)
PIT - M.Furman 96 kickoff return
(J.Cummings kick) 0:52
NEB - R.Pilkington 6 pass from
(S.DeAngelis kick) 12:22
NEB - J.Dailey 17 run (S.DeAngelis kick)
PIT - J.Cummings 38 field goal 0:04
PIT - G.Lee 34 pass from T.Palko
(J.Cummings kick) 4:45
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....
Third-Down Conversions........ 3 of
14 8 of 18
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of
1 2 of 3
Nebraska: C.Ross 24-73; T.Green 5-24; J.Dailey
8-14; D.Horne 6-12.
Pitt: R.Kirkley 13-23; T.Murphy 2-9; M.Furman
1-3; T.Palko 7-0; J.Flacco 2-minus 5.
Nebraska: J.Dailey 11-22-1-142; K.Huston
Pitt: T.Palko 22-45-3-228; J.Flacco
Nebraska: R.Pilkington 5-81; M.Herian 2-26;
M.LeFlore 2-13; G.Mulkey 1-18; S.Kriewald 1-4.
Pitt: G.Lee 6-98; J.Delsardo 4-38; M.Furman 3-4;
R.Kirkley 3-5; D.Strong 2-40; K.Chandler 2-31; E.Gill