LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Very few teams that visit Nebraska's
Memorial Stadium leave a winner, just seven in the last 16 years to
Despite the numbers, Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower liked
his team's chances.
"Our kids believed they were going to win," Bower said. "We
came up here in '99, and turnovers killed us. It was the other way
Southern Miss converted four of the Cornhuskers' five turnovers
into points, beating Nebraska 21-17 Saturday to become the first
nonconference opponent to win in Lincoln since 1991.
The Huskers, 102-7 at Memorial Stadium since 1988, lost at home
to an unranked opponent for the first time since a 20-16 defeat to
Texas in 1998. Washington was the last nonconference foe to beat
Nebraska at home.
"We showed if we make errors, we can get beat by lower
opponents," Nebraska defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith said.
Dustin Almond threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Young
with 7:47 left and Southern Mississippi, which saw a 9-3 halftime
lead evaporate in the third quarter, made a defensive stand in the
final minute to preserve the win.
The Eagles had come into Lincoln five years ago and led much of
the game before losing 20-13.
Saturday's victory wasn't secure until Southern Miss linebacker
Dillon Cleckler chased quarterback Joe Dailey out of bounds short
of the first-down marker on fourth-and-long with 37 seconds left.
"We want the game to be on us," linebacker Antoine Cash said
of the Eagles' defense. "That's what we've been waiting for all
week. We want the game to be on us in the fourth quarter."
Linebacker Michael Boley said he pleaded with his teammates as
the Huskers moved down the field in the late going.
"We were giving up a lot of yards early in drives, and there
comes a point where we say we have to stop them and create some
type of play," Boley said. "I was telling the players in the
huddle, 'Fight, scratch. Don't let them in the end zone.' "
Southern Miss won despite being outgained 476-239.
"We beat those guys fair and square, but at the same time, we
beat ourselves," Dailey said. "We had the game in our pocket.
It's all about fundamentals. You can dress it up and say what you
want, but when it comes down to it, you've got to take care of the
Coach Bill Callahan won his first game with the Cornhuskers
56-17 over Division I-AA Western Illinois last week. The new-look
Huskers and their West Coast Offense had a much tougher time
against more suitable competition.
"This is a game that was there for the taking, and we gave it
away," Callahan said. "There's nobody to look at but ourselves."
Nebraska started its last drive at its 41 with 3:18 left and
moved to the Southern Miss 12. Darrell Bennett, who had two fumble
recoveries earlier in the fourth quarter, got his right hand in
front of Terrance Nunn to break up an end-zone pass. Then Caleb
Hendrix made up ground quickly to deflect a ball away from Matt
Herian in the corner of the end zone.
"We hung in there," Bower said. "It was a little like last
year on defense -- bend but don't break. We gave them some yards,
but we made plays and created turnovers."
Almond was 12-of-28 for 142 yards, with one interception and one
touchdown. Anthony Harris led the Eagles with 72 yards on 19
Dailey was 22 of 42 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He was
intercepted three times after being picked off four times by
Western Illinois last week. His 42 attempts tied the school record.
Cory Ross rushed for a career-high 169 yards on 27 carries and
Herian caught a career-high eight passes for 71 yards and a
Nebraska went up 17-9 on Dailey's two touchdown passes on the
Cornhuskers' first two series of the second half.
All three of Dailey's interceptions led to Southern Miss points,
including Naton Stewart's 49-yard interception return for a
touchdown at the end of the third quarter that pulled the Eagles to
17-15. Dailey was trying to pass to Nunn on the play.
"I thought they were coming on an all-out blitz, and I was
ready to bang my crossing route," Dailey said. "That guy
[Stewart] came out of nowhere and took it from me."
The Eagles got the ball back when Bennett recovered Tierre
Green's fumble at the Nebraska 49. Two plays later, Almond lofted
the go-ahead touchdown to Young.
Darren McCaleb kicked field goals of 39, 41 and 21 yards in the
first half for the Golden Eagles.
Dailey threw touchdown passes of 9 yards to Grant Mulkey and 13
yards to Herian to give the Huskers a 17-9 lead early in the third
"They played great defense, I've got to hand it to them,"
Mulkey said. "We hurt ourselves. We would have won the game if we