3:30 PM ET, August 30, 2003
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, NE), Lincoln, NE
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska rushed for more than 250 yards, held Oklahoma State to less than 200 total yards and forced five turnovers.
It was a fitting throwback performance as the Cornhuskers and a newly revamped coaching staff beat the No. 24 Cowboys 17-7 Saturday in front of some 800 former players.
Nebraska's defense kept the pressure on OSU QB Josh Fields.
New defensive coordinator Bo Pelini's unit held the Cowboys, who averaged 411 yards a game last season, to 57 yards in the second half and 183 yards in all, and the Blackshirts forced five turnovers.
Coming off a 7-7 season that was their worst in 41 years and prompted a shuffling of assistant coaches, no one was downplaying the importance of the win, especially in front of the school's largest football reunion ever.
"We showed the nation the Blackshirts are back," cornerback Fabian Washington said. "We knew it in winter conditioning, in the spring and during fall practice. We just had to show the nation today."
The victory was Nebraska's 17th straight in a season opener and ended its six-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
After having their 35-game unbeaten streak in the series ended last year in Stillwater, Okla., the Huskers beat the Cowboys for the 20th straight time in Lincoln.
"I thought it was a very big win for us," Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "It was a game where we didn't get an awful lot going offensively, although we started to pile up some yards and started to wear them down a little bit."
Nebraska converted two OSU turnovers into third-quarter touchdowns to turn a 7-3 halftime deficit into a 17-7 lead.
OSU tailback Tatum Bell dropped the ball as he was putting a move on Demorrio Williams, and Barrett Ruud recovered along the sideline and ran it back 15 yards for a touchdown.
"I was worried about the scoop and kicking it out of bounds," Ruud said. "I knew that if I could scoop it up, I could score."
Davis fumbled deep in OSU territory on Nebraska's next possession, but the Huskers got the ball back a couple minutes later when Ryon Bingham recovered quarterback Josh Fields' fumble at the OSU 13.
Judd Davies scored from 2 yards out to put the Huskers up 17-7.
"We were smashing it at them, and they couldn't stop us," Davis said. We knew we could drive the ball down on them. We had the attitude that we wanted to prove we're the better team."
The Cowboys' seven points were their fewest in 22 games.
"I thought our players played their hearts out," Pelini said. "They kept their cool after they scored on that first series. There was nothing magical about what the coaches did. The players just played with passion."
OSU All-America receiver Rashaun Woods had only five catches for 47 yards, his lowest production in 15 games. He had two catches for 9 yards in the second half.
Last year he torched the Huskers for 11 catches and 132 yards.
"The games are different but the players are the same," Woods said. "They play hard, they hit hard. They are a good defense."
Bell, who ran for 182 yards against Nebraska last year, led the Cowboys with 87.
"Their defense had a nice plan against our offense," OSU coach Les Miles said. "But if you turn the ball over five times, it is difficult to win no matter who you play."
Nebraska scored on the opening series of the game on a 28-yard field goal by Sandro DeAngelis.
The Cowboys then moved 52 yards on nine plays to go ahead 7-3. Fields hit Woods for 28 yards to convert a third-and-4, then the two teamed up again six plays later for a 4-yard touchdown pass.
Nebraska outgained the Cowboys 208-126 in the first half but couldn't score again until Ruud's defensive touchdown.
In the first half, DeAngelis bounced a 34-yard field-goal attempt off the left upright, and had a 33-yard attempt blocked by Paul Duren.