Nebraska must beat CU to stay bowl-eligible

Originally Published: November 14, 2004
Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- For all the meaningful streaks that have gone by the wayside at Nebraska the last couple years, its NCAA record of 35 straight years in a bowl is one that's held near and dear to the hearts of the Big Red faithful.

Now that's in jeopardy, too.

The Cornhuskers (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) must beat Colorado in their final regular-season game Nov. 26 to qualify for postseason play.

"We've got to get us to a bowl game," I-back Cory Ross said. "We have to do that."

With Saturday's 30-3 loss to Oklahoma, Nebraska went winless in conference road games for the first time since 1959.

The Colorado game will determine whether Nebraska runs its streak of winning regular seasons to 43. The Huskers already are assured of their fewest regular-season wins since going 6-4 in 1968.

It also was in 1968 that Nebraska last stayed home during bowl season.

First-year coach Bill Callahan said the Huskers showed positive signs against second-ranked Oklahoma, despite losing by 27 points.

Ross, playing with a painful turf toe, left late in the fourth quarter with a sternum injury after rushing for 130 yards on 30 carries. It was the first time this season that Oklahoma had allowed a 100-yard rusher.

Ross, with 1,067 yards for the season, became Nebraska's 27th 1,000-yard rusher.

"Despite this loss, I was really proud of our kids," Callahan said. "They fought their butts off, and I'm extremely pleased with Cory Ross and his efforts. They're examples of what we're looking for."

Though Nebraska held Oklahoma to 98 yards rushing, the Huskers' pass defense was soft, allowing Jason White to complete 29-of-35 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns. White set an OU record by completing 18 straight passes.

"Their quarterback was phenomenal," Callahan said. "He's very polished, very groomed and very knowledgeable in everything he was doing. He throws with a lot of precision. If you give this guy time, he's going to pick you apart."

Callahan said he had no problem with Oklahoma, holding a 30-point lead, trying to score in the final minute. The Sooners turned the ball over on downs, and David Dyches kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired for the Huskers' only points.

The field goal allowed Nebraska to avoid its first shutout loss since 1996 and provided some consolation for quarterback Joe Dailey, who said he took umbrage at OU's attempt to run up the score.

"I felt they tried to stick it to us," he said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press