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Nebraska Set to Make 34th Consecutive Bowl Appearance
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
12/16/2002
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The 2002 MainStay
Independence Bowl
Nebraska (7-6, 3-5 in Big 12)
vs. Mississippi (6-6, 3-5 in SEC)
DATE: Friday, Dec. 27, 2002
TIME: 3:30 p.m. Central
SITE: Shreveport, La.
STADIUM: Independence Stadium
CAPACITY: 50,015
TURF: AstroPlay
NEBRASKA RADIO: Pinnacle Sports Network (Jim Rose-Play-by-Play; Color-Adrian Fiala; Gary Sharp-Sideline)
TV: ESPN (Jeff Hullinger-PBP; Todd Christensen-Color; Stacy Paetz-Sideline)
Internet: Live radio webcast on Huskers.com

Lincoln -- Nebraska makes a record 34th consecutive bowl appearance in 2002 with its trip to the 27th annual Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. The Huskers finished the regular season with a 7-6 overall record and were 3-5 in conference play. The Independence Bowl game with Mississippi marks Nebraska?s 41st all-time bowl appearance, tied for fourth among all schools.

The Huskers saw their streak of consecutive nine-win seasons end at 33 years this fall, but Nebraska has a lot on the line in the Independence Bowl game. A victory would give Nebraska its 41st consecutive winning season and mark the 39th time in the last 41 seasons the Huskers have won eight or more games in a season.

Nebraska will also look to push their bowl record over the .500 mark this December. The Huskers are 20-20 in their 40 all-time bowl trips, including a 2-2 mark under Head Coach Frank Solich. The game marks Nebraska?s first-ever appearance in the Independence Bowl and the 13th different bowl game in which the Huskers have played.

The Huskers? season did not go as planned, however, Nebraska has faced a daunting schedule this fall. Nebraska?s losses have come at the hands of teams with a combined record of 52-22. Four of those teams?Penn State, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado?rank in the nation?s top 14 and all six of the opponents that defeated Nebraska will go bowling this year.

Nebraska closed its regular season on Nov. 29 against Colorado with a 28-13 loss and have practiced at least twice a week since that game. The Huskers will depart slightly from their regular bowl routine, going to Shreveport just four days in advance of the Independence Bowl.

Mississippi enters the game with a 6-6 record and finished its Southeastern Conference schedule with a 3-5 record. The Rebels closed their regular season on Thanksgiving night with a 24-12 victory over in-state rival Mississippi State. Mississippi began the season with a 5-1 record, but dropped five straight contests before the victory in its regular-season finale.

Ole Miss has made four bowl appearances in the past five seasons and has finished with a winning record in each of the last five seasons. The Rebels are making their fifth all-time appearance in the Independence Bowl and their third in the past five seasons.

2002 Nebraska Season Recap
Nebraska enters the 2002 MainStay Independence Bowl with a 7-6 overall record and finished Big 12 Conference play with a 3-5 record. While the Huskers saw several remarkable streaks come to an end this fall, NU enters the game with Mississippi with several other streaks still intact.

The Huskers will not win nine games for the first time since 1968 and had a streak of 348 consecutive weeks in the Associated Press poll end in September. However, Nebraska is making its 34th straight bowl appearance, extended its home sellout string to 255 games and a victory in the Independence Bowl would give Nebraska its 41st straight winning season.

The Huskers opened the 2002 campaign on Aug. 24 against Arizona State in the Black Coaches Association Football Classic. The game was the earliest in school history, and Nebraska responded with a 48-10 victory over the Sun Devils. Nebraska broke in several new starters on offense in the game, but did not commit a turnover, while the Husker special teams shined with two blocked punts.

Nebraska?s season-opening three-game homestand also featured victories over Troy State and Utah State. In the 31-16 win over Troy State, senior punt returner DeJuan Groce tied an NCAA record with two punt return touchdowns. The Utah State game was the 250th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and the Huskers did not disappoint the faithful, jumping to a 37-7 halftime advantage en route to a 44-13 win.

The Huskers? good fortune did not continue on a two-game September road trip. In a meeting of two of college football?s most storied programs, Penn State used a balanced offensive attack to defeat the Huskers, 40-7. The Husker offense sputtered with five turnovers in a 36-14 loss at Iowa State, Nebraska?s first setback in a league opener since 1974.

Nebraska returned to the win column in a two-game October homestand. Quarterback Jammal Lord compiled a school-record 369 yards of total offense, including 218 yards rushing in a 38-14 win over Division I-AA power McNeese State. A week later the Husker defense turned in a dominant second-half performance, and Groce returned his third punt of the season for a touchdown as NU improved to 5-2 with a 24-13 victory over Missouri.

The Huskers dropped a hard-fought 24-21 game at Oklahoma State in mid-October. The loss was Nebraska?s first against the Cowboys since 1961 and ended a 36-game unbeaten streak in the series. The following week, Nebraska showed its resilience on the road at Texas A&M. Nebraska fell behind 31-14 midway through the third quarter, but rallied behind the running of Lord and true freshman David Horne, who scored four touchdowns in a 38-31 win. The comeback tied the largest in school history and improved NU to 5-3 on the season.

A Memorial Stadium record crowd of 78,268 was on hand for the Nov. 2 matchup between Nebraska and Texas. The two teams battled for 60 minutes before a Texas interception in the final seconds sealed the seventh-ranked Longhorns? 27-24 win. The loss ended Nebraska?s 26-game home winning streak.

Kansas was a familiar Homecoming foe for Nebraska the following week and the result was a familiar one in the series, a big Husker win. Nebraska jumped to a 24-7 halftime edge and rolled to a 45-7 victory for its 34th straight victory over the Jayhawks. A second straight Sunflower State opponent awaited the following week, as the Huskers traveled to Manhattan, Kan. to take on 11th-ranked Kansas State. The Wildcats posted one of the top rushing days ever against Nebraska and rolled to a 49-13 victory, the Huskers? third straight loss in Manhattan.

Twenty-seven seniors said goodbye to Nebraska fans in the regular-season finale at Memorial Stadium in the annual post-Thanksgiving matchup with Colorado. The Buffaloes entered the game with the Big 12 North Division title in hand. After Nebraska jumped to a 13-7 advantage early in the third quarter, Colorado responded with two third-quarter touchdowns and went on to a 28-13 victory.

The Huskers once again featured one of the nation?s top rushing attacks in 2002, averaging 268.9 yards per game on the ground to rank fourth in the country. Nebraska?s special teams also stood out, with Groce ranking third in the nation in punt return average, while punter Kyle Larson ranked 10th nationally in punting average.

Independence Bowl Marks NU's 34th Consecutive Bowl
Nebraska will participate in its 34th consecutive bowl game, the nation's longest current consecutive streak and an all-time NCAA record. Michigan?s streak of consecutive bowl appearances will reach 28 this year, the second-longest streak in NCAA history. Nebraska's 41 bowl appearances overall is tied for fourth best, trailing Alabama's 51, Tennessee?s 43, and Texas? 42, while tying USC?s 41.

Nebraska played the first of its 41 bowls in the Rose Bowl, when No. 7 Nebraska lost to No. 2 Stanford, 21-13, following the 1940 season. Last season Nebraska also played in the Rose Bowl for the national championship against Miami. Nebraska's 34 consecutive bowls began with a 45-6 win over Georgia in the 1969 Sun Bowl. The Huskers are 20-20 all-time in bowl games, 2-2 under Head Coach Frank Solich.

Mississippi also has a rich bowl history, having appeared in 30 postseason contests, tied for the 15th-most all-time.The Rebels have a 17-12 record all-time in bowl games and have won four of their past five bowl games. Ole Miss has six bowl games against current members of the Big 12 Conference, compiling a 4-2 record, including a 27-25 victory over Oklahoma in the 1999 Independence Bowl.

Huskers Visit Independence Bowl for First Time
Nebraska visits a new site in the 41st bowl appearance in the school?s illustrious football history. The MainStay Independence Bowl marks the 13th different bowl Nebraska has visited. The Huskers? most frequent Holiday destination has been the Orange Bowl, where NU has a 7-9 record in 16 trips to Miami.

While Nebraska?s trip to Shreveport is a first, the Huskers have played four previous bowl games in the state of Louisiana, all in the Sugar Bowl. Nebraska is 3-1 in its appearances in the Sugar Bowl, all against Southeastern Conference opponents. Nebraska has not played a game in the state of Louisiana since a 30-15 victory over LSU in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1987.

NU Looks For 21st Bowl Victory
Nebraska owns a 20-20 all-time record in 40 bowl appearances. The Huskers have won six of their past eight bowl games and are 2-2 in the postseason under Head Coach Frank Solich. Under previous head coaches Nebraska was 0-1 under Biff Jones, 0-1 under Bill Glassford, 6-3 under Bob Devaney and 12-13 under Tom Osborne. Five of Nebraska?s previous eight bowl games have been for at least a share of the national title, with the Huskers on the winning end in three of those games.

Nebraska to Face Rare Unranked Bowl Opponent
Nebraska and Mississippi both enter the Independence Bowl unranked. Before this season, Nebraska had been ranked entering each of its last 37 bowl games, including 29 top-10 rankings in those postseason contests. The Huskers bowl competition has traditionally been among the nation?s toughest. Ole Miss marks the first unranked opponent Nebraska has faced in a bowl game since a 45-6 victory over Georgia in the 1969 Sun Bowl. In fact, the Huskers have played just two bowl opponents ranked lower than sixth in the AP since 1985. The Huskers have faced the AP?s top-ranked team in a bowl game four times since the 1981 season, while entering their bowl game No. 1 four times in school history.

Nebraska Finds Success Against SEC in Postseason
Nebraska?s matchup with Ole Miss in the 2002 MainStay Independence Bowl marks the 15th time in school history the Huskers have faced a Southeastern Conference opponent in a bowl game. The Huskers have had a great deal of success against the SEC, posting a 12-2 record against teams from the conference in the postseason.

The Huskers have won each of their last 11 bowl games against SEC opponents, most recently a 31-21 victory over Tennessee in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl following the 1999 season. Nebraska has been dominant against the league in its last five bowl matchups with the SEC. Beginning with a 28-10 victory over LSU in the 1985 Sugar Bowl, Nebraska has won the last five bowl matchups with SEC opponents by an average margin of 21.2 points (38.6-17.4).

Nebraska?s 12-2 bowl record against the SEC does not include a 10-7 loss to Arkansas in the 1965 Cotton Bowl. The Razorbacks were a member of the Southwest Conference at that time. NU owns a 19-4-1 overall record against current members of the SEC, including a 7-2-1 regular-season record.

Nebraska vs. SEC in Bowl Games (12-2)

Year*

Bowl

Opponent

AP Rank

Result

NU Coach

1964

Orange

Auburn

6/5

W, 13-7

Bob Devaney

1966

Orange#

Alabama

3/4

L, 28-39

Bob Devaney

1967

Sugar

Alabama

6/3

L, 7-34

Bob Devaney

1969

Sun

Georgia

14/--

W, 45-6

Bob Devaney

1971

Orange#

LSU

3/5

W, 17-12

Bob Devaney

1972

Orange#

Alabama

1/2

W, 38-6

Bob Devaney

1974

Sugar

Florida

8/18

W, 13-10

Tom Osborne

1980

Sun

Mississippi St.

8/17

W, 31-17

Tom Osborne

1983

Orange

LSU

3/13

W, 21-20

Tom Osborne

1985

Sugar

LSU

4/12

W, 28-10

Tom Osborne

1987

Sugar

LSU

6/5

W, 30-15

Tom Osborne

1996

Fiesta#

Florida

1/2

W, 62-24

Tom Osborne

1998

Orange#

Tennessee

2/3

W, 42-17

Tom Osborne

2000

Fiesta

Tennessee

3/6

W, 31-21

Frank Solich

# winner won or shared national championship title

* year is when game was played-not season


NU's Four Bowl Games Under Solich
2002 Rose Bowl -
#1 Miami 37, #4 Nebraska 14
Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 3, 2002 ?
Playing in its fifth national cahmpionship bowl game in the past eight seasons, Nebraska fell to Miami, 37-14, in the 88th annual Rose Bowl.

Top-ranked Miami came out strong from the beginning and showed its speed by gaining 472 yards of total offense, including 362 yards passing by quarterback Ken Dorsey. The victory helped UM complete a perfect 12-0 campaign under first-year head coach Larry Coker. The Huskers, who finished the year with an 11-2 mark, were held to a season-low 259 yards, including 197 on the ground.

The Hurricanes opened the scoring, capitalizing on a trio of first-half Husker turnovers. Miami converted the miscues into 14 points, helping the Hurricanes build a 34-0 halftime lead.

Nebraska recorded its first points of the game late in the third quarter. Fullback Judd Davies took a handoff from Heisman winner Eric Crouch and rambled 16 yards for a touchdown that ended a 68-yard drive. While it was a spark for the Huskers, the score only cut the UM lead to 34-7. The Huskers closed to within 20 points after DeJuan Groce returned a Hurricane punt 72 yards for a touchdown with more than 14 minutes remaining. Miami added a late field goal to account for the final 37-14 margin. Crouch capped his NU career with 114 yards rushing on 22 carries.

2000 Alamo Bowl  - #9 Nebraska 66, #18 Northwestern 17
San Antonio, Texas, Dec. 30, 2000 ?
The Nebraska offense dominated Big Ten co-champion Northwestern, 66-17, in the 2000 Alamo Bowl. The 66 points were an NU and NCAA bowl record, along with the Huskers' nine touchdowns and eight rushing touchdowns.

Nebraska got off to a quick start, as the Huskers scored on their first possession. Dan Alexander capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run, just a part of his Alamo Bowl and NU bowl-record 240 rushing yards. As a team, the Huskers had an Alamo Bowl-record 476 rushing yards.

Northwestern took a 10-7 lead iinto the second quarter, but it was all Nebraska from there. Quarterback Eric Crouch started NU's NCAA bowl-record tying 31-point second quarter with a 50-yard touchdown run and the Huskers took a 38-17 lead into halftime.

The Blackshirts shut out the Wildcats in the final two periods, while NU added 28 second-half points to roll to a 49-point victory. Place-kicker Josh Brown tied the NCAA bowl record for extra-point kick attempts (9) and extra-point kicks made (9). The NU offense finished with 636 total yards for a school bowl-record 7.7 ypa.

2000 Fiesta Bowl - #3 Nebraska 31, #6 Tennessee 21
Tempe, Ariz., Jan. 2, 2000 ? Third-ranked Nebraska recorded its fifth victory in the last six bowl games with a 31-21 victory over No. 6 Tennessee in the 2000 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The win gave the Huskers a 12-1 record, and NU finished second and third, in the coaches and AP polls, respectively. It was the first bowl win for Head Coach Frank Solich.

Nebraska started quickly with a Dan Alexander touchdown run on its first possession. Wingback Bobby Newcombe?s 60-yard punt return for a touchdown gave NU a 14-0 advantage late in the first quarter. After a Nebraska field goal, the Vols scored just before half to make it 17-7.

Tennessee closed to within 17-14 early in the third quarter, but Nebraska responded with a nine-play 96-yard drive. Eric Crouch capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Golliday to give NU a 10-point advantage. Nebraska put the game out of reach witha 10-play, 99-yard drive capped by Correll Buckhalter?s two-yard touchdown run. Tennessee scored midway through the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 31-21, but would not get any closer.

Crouch earned offensive MVP honors, completing 9-of-15 passes for 148 yards and a TD, while rushing for 64 yards on 17 carries. Alexander led Nebraska?s ground attack with 108 yards, as the Huskers finished the game with 321 yards against the nation?s seventh-best rush defense. The Blackshirts held the Vols to just 44 yards rushing and 311 total yards.

1998 Holiday Bowl - #5 Arizona 23, #14 Nebraska 20
San Diego, Calif., Dec. 30, 1998?Fifth-ranked Arizona scored the go-ahead touchdown with six minutes remaining and held on for a 23-20 victory over No. 14 Nebraska in the 1998 Culligan Holiday Bowl. The loss ended the Huskers? four-game bowl winning streak in Coach Frank Solich?s first bowl as Nebraska?s head coach.

A wild fourth quarter saw three lead changes. Nebraska took a 20-16 lead when Eric Crouch connected with tight end Tracey Wistrom for a four-yard touchdown with 10:55 remaining. However, Arizona came right back and covered 68 yards in nine plays for the game-winning score. Nebraska drove inside Wildcat territory on its final drive, but an Arizona interception sealed the outcome.

Nebraska fell behind 9-0 early in the second quarter, but the NU defense forced a pair of turnovers and Nebraska converted to forge a 13-9 halftime lead. The loss overshadowed an outstanding performance by rush end Mike Rucker, who had seven tackles, including four tackles for loss to earn defensive MVP honors. Crouch capped his freshman season by passing for 193 yards.

Big 12 Conference Well-Represented in Bowl Season
Nebraska is one of eight Big 12 teams playing in bowl games this holiday season, the most of any conference in the country. The Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conferences all have seven teams playing in a bowl game.

League champion Oklahoma leads the Big 12 bowl bonanza, taking on Washington State in the Rose Bowl. In all, Nebraska faced seven bowl teams this season. In addition to Big 12 foes Iowa State (Humanitarian), Oklahoma State (Houston), Texas (Cotton), Kansas State (Holiday) and Colorado (Alamo), non-conference opponents Arizona State (Holiday) and Penn State (Capital One) are playing in bowls this year.

Nebraska finished the 2002 campaign with a 1-6 record against teams that are in bowl games. In addition, Texas A&M was bowl-eligibile, but is not playing in the postseason. Mississippi is 1-5 against teams who are playing in bowl games.

Big 12 Teams/Nebraska Opponents in Bowl Games

Day, Date

Matchup

Bowl

Time

Mon., Dec. 23

Texas Tech vs. Clemson

Tangerine

4:30 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 27

Oklahoma State vs. Southern Miss

Houston

Noon

Fri., Dec. 27

Nebraska vs. Ole Miss

Independence

3:30 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 27

Kansas State vs. Arizona State

Holiday

7 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 28

Colorado vs. Wisconsin

Alamo

7 p.m.

Tues., Dec. 31

Iowa State vs. Boise State

Humanitarian

11 a.m.

Wed., Jan. 1

Texas vs. LSU

Cotton

10 a.m.

Wed., Jan. 1

Penn State vs. Auburn

Capital One

Noon

Wed., Jan. 1

Oklahoma vs. Washington State

Rose

4 p.m.


Nebraska Head Coach Frank Solich
Coach Frank Solich is in his fifth season at the helm of the Husker program with a 49-15 school and career record (.766). With a victory over Ole Miss, Solich would move into a tie for second place for most victories by Division I-A head coaches in their first five seasons since 1900. He will officially qualify to rank among his peers after this season with five years as a head coach, and with a .766 winning percentage, Solich would rank fifth among active coaches in Division I-A.

Solich became just the third first-year Nebraska head coach to record nine wins in his first season at the helm, joining a pair of Hall of Fame Coaches?Tom Osborne (9-2-1 in 1973) and Bob Devaney (9-2 in 1962). Solich posted a 9-4 record in his first season, despite being hit heavy with injuries. He posted the best record of any Husker second-year coach as his team posted a 12-1 record in 1999, leading NU to a Big 12 championship and No. 2 (coaches poll) and No. 3 (AP poll) final national rankings.

Solich?s 21 wins in his first two years at NU bettered Devaney?s previous school record of 19 and ranked in a tie for third all time among Division I coaches in their first two years at the helm. He went 10-2 in 2000 and his 31 wins in three years bettered both Osborne and Devaney?s 28 wins in their first three years. His 42 wins in four years was also a school best and his 49 wins in his first five years is tied for the fourth-most in Division I-A history.

Solich is the only Husker coach to have won 12 games in either of his first two seasons. In fact, neither Devaney or Osborne had an 11-win campaign in their first four years, with Devaney posting a pair of 10-win seasons, and Osborne hitting 10 wins in his third season. Devaney won his first conference title his second year, while Osborne tied for his first title in his third year at the helm. Solich was named the 1999 Big 12 Coach of the Year by his league peers and the AP after winning the league championship in 1999, and was named coach of the year by the conference coaches a second time in 2001.

Solich has continued Nebraska's winning tradition the Husker way?by identification of athletic talent regardless of position or recruiting rank; with successful recruitment nationwide of the country's best student-athletes; developing local talent and utilizing the envious Husker walk-on program; and by providing the best athletic facilities and support available for the student-athletes.

Solich was named Nebraska?s 26th head coach on Dec. 10, 1997, after serving as an NU assistant for 19 years. He played fullback for Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney, lettering in 1963-64-65. Solich was the first Husker running back to rush for 200 yards in a game and remains the only fullback to accomplish that feat. He also lettered for the NU baseball team in 1965. After serving as a local high school football coach for 14 years, Solich took over the NU freshman program and posted a 19-1 record from 1979 to 1982. He was elevated to NU?s running backs coach after four seasons, a position he held for 15 years (1983-97). He was promoted to assistant head coach in 1991 and head coach following the 1997 season. Solich earned his bachelor?s and master?s degrees from NU in 1966 and 1972, respectively. Solich is one of 17 current Division I-A football coaches who played for and now coach their alma mater.

Solich Makes Changes in Coaching Staff Before Bowl Game
Solich announced on Dec. 2, that three Husker defensive assistant coaches would not continue with the Nebraska coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Craig Bohl, rush ends coach Nelson Barnes and secondary coach George Darlington are no longer with the football program. Solich is in the process of replacing the three defensive assistants.

The Husker defense will be coached in the bowl game by defensive line coach Jeff Jamrog and graduate assistant Jimmy Burrow. In addition to his normal duties with the defensive line, Jamrog has also coordinated the rush ends and linebackers in bowl preparation. Burrow has assisted with the defensive backs for the past two years and has coached that area during bowl practice.

Burrow and fellow graduate assistant coach Tim Albin have also been allowed to go on the road to recruit during the month of December. Solich also announced that he will no longer serve in the dual role as offensive coordinator next season and will name a new offensive coordinator. Former Husker quarterback (1995 to 1997) and current Green Bay Packer safety Scott Frost is serving as a graduate assistant on defense for the bowl game.

Scouting the Ole Miss Rebels
Mississippi completed the 2002 regular season with a 6-6 overall record and a 3-5 mark in Southeastern Conference play. The Rebels started fast, winning five of their first six games, but suffered through a five-game losing skid before a 24-12 victory over Mississippi State in the regular-season finale.

Offensively, Ole Miss relies on a high-powered passing attack. The Rebels average better than 260 yards per game through the air and rank second in the SEC and 26th nationally in passing offense. Ole Miss? offense is led by junior quarterback Eli Manning, the younger brother of former Tennessee All-American and current Indianapolis Colt Peyton Manning. Eli ranks 24th in the nation in total offense at 249.3 yards per game and has thrown for 3,088 yards and 20 touchdowns, while completing better than 58 percent of his passes.

Manning spreads the ball around on offense, as five Ole Miss receivers have 20 or more catches this season. Junior split end Chris Collins leads the team with 49 catches for 754 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior split end Bill Flowers is right behind Collins with 47 catches and three touchdowns, while freshman flanker Mike Espy has 28 receptions.

The Rebels average just 97.8 yards per game on the ground. Junior Ronald McClendon leads the Ole Miss ground game with 342 yards and three touchdowns, while redshirt freshman Vashon Pearson has scored five rushing touchdowns in 2002.

On the defensive side of the ball, Mississippi is allowing 25.7 points per game, and ranks 46th in the nation in total defense at 346.3 yards per game. The Rebels have allowed the opposition 151.2 yards rushing per game and less than 200 yards per game through the air, while picking off 16 opponent passes. The Rebels are led on defense by senior free safety Eric Oliver, who has 118 total tackles. Strong safety Matt Grier has 70 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss and leads the team with five interceptions. Nose tackle Jesse Mitchell has 65 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss.

Punter Cody Ridgway ranks among the nation?s top 25 in that category, averaging 42.2 yards per boot. Sophomore place-kicker Jonathan Nichols has connected on 13-of-18 field goals this season, including all five attempts from beyond 40 yards. He is perfect on 37 PAT attempts and leads the Rebels in scoring with 76 points.

Ole Miss Head Coach David Cutcliffe
David Cutcliffe is in his fourth season as the head coach at Mississippi and has guided the Rebels to a 29-20 record and three bowl appearances. A 1976 graduate of Alabama, Cutcliffe served as an assistant coach at Tennessee for 17 seasons before taking over the reins in Oxford.

Cutcliffe is coaching in his third Independence Bowl. His first game as Ole Miss? head coach was a 1998 Independence Bowl victory over Texas Tech, less than a month after he was hired as head coach. The following year, the Rebels made a return trip to Shreveport and defeated Oklahoma. Cutcliffe took his 2000 Ole Miss squad to the Music City Bowl, where the Rebels lost to West Virginia. Cutcliffe has not faced Nebraska as a head coach, but was the Tennessee offensive coordinator when the Huskers defeated UT, 42-17, in the 1998 Orange Bowl. Cutcliffe is 2-1 against Big 12 opponents as the Ole Miss head coach.

Huskers, Ole Miss Meet for First Time on Gridiron
The Independence Bowl will be the first meeting between Nebraska and Ole Miss in football. The matchup will be Nebraska?s first against an SEC opponent since a 31-21 victory over Tennessee in the 2000 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Nebraska and Mississippi are rare opponents in any major sport. In addition to football, the Huskers and Rebels have never met in women?s basketball, baseball, volleyball, baseball or softball. The Nebraska and Ole Miss men?s basketball teams played in back-to-back seasons in 1977 and 1978, with the teams splitting the two contests.

Huskers Look to Complete 34th Straight Winning Season
Nebraska has guaranteed itself of a .500 or better season for the 41st consective year (each season since 1962). However, the Huskers need a victory over Ole Miss in the Independence Bowl to finish 8-6 and complete a 41st straight winning campaign.

Nebraska's 40 years of consecutive winning records rank second all time behind Notre Dame?s 42 (1889-32). The 41 straight non-losing seasons is third all-time, behind Penn State?s 49 (1939-87) and Notre Dame's 42 (1889-1932) and tied with Texas? 40 (1893-32). Since the winning season streak began in 1962, Nebraska has averaged nearly 10 wins per season with a 405-84-5 record.

Nebraska Looks to Get Back on Winning Track in Bowl Game
The Huskers traditionally have rebounded well after losses. Nebraska enters the Independence Bowl with a two-game losing streak, dropping contests to nationally ranked Kansas State and Colorado in the season?s final two games. The Huskers have not lost three consecutive games since dropping four straight contests in the middle of the 1961 campaign.

Nebraska has lost back-to-back games twice in 2002, the first time it has suffered a pair of consecutive losses in the same season since 1967. After starting the 2002 campaign 3-0, Nebraska dropped back-to-back road games at Penn State and Iowa State in September. The Huskers rebounded from those losses to win three of their next four games, before dropping three of four to end the season, including the last two regular-season games. Before this season, Nebraska had not lost back-to-back regular-season games since 1976.

The Huskers have only lost back-to-back games 13 times since 1962, and of the 11 times, seven were losses to end the regular season followed by a loss in a bowl game.

Nebraska Back to Back losses since 1962 (13)

Year

First Loss Second Loss

1964

Oklahoma 17, NU Arkansas 10, NU 7 (Cotton Bowl)

1966

Oklahoma 10, NU 9

Alabama 34, NU 7 (Sugar Bowl)

1967

Kansas 10, NU 0

Colorado 21, NU 16

1967

Missouri 10, NU 7

Oklahoma 21, NU 14

1968

Kansas 23, NU 13

Missouri 16, NU 14

1975

Oklahoma 35, NU 10

Arizona St. 17, NU 14 (Fiesta Bowl)

1976

Iowa State 37, NU 28

Oklahoma 20, NU 17 in Lincoln

1978

Missouri 35, NU 31

Oklahoma 31, NU 24 (Orange Bowl)

1979

Oklahoma 17, NU 14

Houston 17, NU 14 (Cotton Bowl)

1985

Oklahoma 27, NU 7

Michigan 27, NU 23 (Fiesta Bowl)

1990

Oklahoma 45, NU 10

Georgia Tech 45, NU 21 (Citrus Bowl)

2002

Penn State 40, NU 7

Iowa State 36, NU 14

2002

Kansas State 49, NU 13

Colorado 28, NU 13

Independence Bowl to Feature Contrast in Offensive Styles
Nebraska and Ole Miss have similar offensive offense numbers. The Huskers average 27.7 points per game, with Ole Miss at 27.0 per game. Nebraska averages 374.2 yards per game, while the Rebels are just behind at 358.2 yards per outing. That is where the similarities end.

Nebraska gains 71.9 percent of its offense on the ground, averaging 268.9 rushing yards per game to rank fourth in the nation in that category. The Huskers are averaging just 105.3 passing yards per contest.

Ole Miss has an offensive gameplan in complete contrast to Nebraska. The Rebels average just 97.8 yards per game on the ground, while throwing for 260.3 yards per game, 73 percent of their average offensive output.

Husker quarterback Jammal Lord has 2,598 yards of total offense, 51.2 percent of which comes on the ground. Ole Miss? Eli Manning has accounted for 2,992 yards of total offense, with 103 percent by passing.

Huskers? Nine-Win Streak Ends at 33 Consecutive Years
Nebraska?s amazing run of nine-win seasons has come to an end at 33 consecutive years. The streak is even more remarkable when considering that Florida now tops the list of consecutive nine-win seasons at 11. The Gators must win their bowl game to extend their streak to 12 straight nine-win campaigns. Behind Florida, Texas and Miami have five consecutive nine-win campaigns.

Before this season, Nebraska had won nine or more games in 38 of the past 40 seasons. Only back-to-back 6-4 records in 1967 and 1968 have fallen short of the nine-win plateau. A victory over Ole Miss in the Independence Bowl would give the Huskers eight victories.

Nebraska Tops Elite Programs in Consistency
Nebraska ranks third among Division I-A schools in all-time football victories with 771 wins. The Huskers have the nation?s best record since 1962, posting a 405-84-5 record in the last 41 seasons. In that period, Nebraska has clearly been the most steady, consistent program in the nation and that is evident when comparing the Huskers? record to the other nine programs among the top 10 in victories.

The Huskers have had just three seasons (including 2002) since 1962 with eight or fewer victories. Eight of the other nine schools in the top 10 has had at least 15 seasons with eight or fewer wins in that span. Nebraska?s last losing season occurred in 1961. Michigan has not had a losing record since 1967, however, the other eight schools on the all-time top 10 wins list have all had losing seasons since 1988, including six programs with losing campaigns in the past six seasons.

Nebraska hopes to find itself back in the national rankings and in contention for Big 12 and national honors next season. The Huskers need look no further than the top 10 winningest programs for direction. Although each has experienced a downturn of some degree, the group is having a strong season in 2002. Eight of the 10 teams have won at least nine games heading into the 2002 bowl season and are ranked in the top 13 in the current Associated Press poll.

Husker Injury Update
Nebraska has lost several players to injury this season, with the defense hit the hardest. In spring practice returning starter Willie Amos went down with a knee injury and missed the entire season. Amos started at free safety last season, but had moved to cornerback and was a projected starter at the position. In fall camp, fifth-year senior nose tackle Jason Lohr suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and was lost for the season. Also a projected starter, Lohr played just three games in 2001after a LCL tear in the same knee.

The Huskers depth in the defensive front was tested throughout the season. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jared Helming tore the ACL in his left knee against Arizona State and missed the remainder of the season. Another frosh defensive tackle, Seppo Evwaraye missed most of the season with an injury to his right shoulder, while true freshman Brandon Greeson, who was redshirting this fall, missed the last two months of the season with a shoulder injury.

Senior rush end Chris Kelsay missed five games during conference play with an injury to his right hamstring. In addition, Nebraska has been banged up throughout the season at the Mike linebacker position. Sophomore Chad Sievers missed two of the season?s first three games with a sprained knee, then suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee against Kansas. Sophomore starter Barrett Ruud battled several injuries throughout the year, including a broken hand which forced him to play with a cast for several games early in the season.

Senior tight end Jon Bowling injured his right knee against Kansas State and had season-ending knee surgery shortly thereafter.

Sixteen Huskers Play in Bowl With Degree in Hand
Sixteen Huskers will take part in the Independence Bowl as graduates. The Huskers had five players who played the entire 2002 season with their degree in hand, including Demoine Adams (political science), who earned his degree in just three years at Nebraska. Other Huskers who graduated before the start of the season include Ben Cornelsen (communication studies), Dahrran Diedrick (criminal justice), Justin Smith (finance) and junior Patrick Kabongo (criminal justice).

Eleven more Huskers earned their degree at the conclusion of this semester on Dec. 21, including Josh Brown (communication studies), Jon Clanton (special education), Wes Cody (communication studies) Will Dabbert (biological sciences), DeJuan Groce (communication studies), Chris Kelsay (finance), John Klem (finance), Nate Kolterman (animal science), Steve Safranek (psychology), Scott Shanle (family and consumer science) and Jay White (biological sciences).

27 Seniors to Conclude Husker Careers
Nebraska?s 34th consecutive bowl game will be the final game in a Husker uniform for 27 seniors. The seniors were introduced before the start of the Colorado game on Nov. 29, their final appearance at Memorial Stadium.

The class includes 17 players from the state of Nebraska. During the past five years, the senior class has contributed to the 1999 Big 12 Championship and the Independence Bowl marks their fifth straight bowl trip, including last year?s Rose Bowl for the national championship. Seniors who have been in the program for five seasons have contributed to a 49-15 overall record, including a 32-3 home record. Senior center John Garrison is the only Husker in this year?s senior class who did not redshirt.

Huskers in Postseason Games
Several Huskers will participate in postseason bowls this season. The tentative lineup includes: East-West Shrine (Jan. 11)?I-back Dahrran Diedrick, place-kicker Josh Brown invited; Senior Bowl (Jan. 18)?rush end Chris Kelsay and cornerback/punt returner DeJuan Groce invited; All-Star Gridiron Classic (Jan. 25)?center John Garrison, rush end Demoine Adams, linebacker Scott Shanle invited.

Three Seniors Complete Run as 2002 Team Captains
Three seniors were elected team captains by their teammates before the start of the season?center John Garrison, rush end Chris Kelsay and cornerback DeJuan Groce.

Kelsay was the second member of his family to serve as a Nebraska football captain, joining his brother, Chad, a captain on Solich?s first team in 1998. The Kelsays are the fifth brother combination in school history to serve as team captains, joining Mike (1983) and Andy Keeler (1988), Erik (1991) and Zach Wiegert (1994), Christian (1995) and Jason Peter (1997) and Grant (1997) and Tracey Wistrom (2001). The 2002 campaign marks the first season Nebraska has had only three captains since the 1987 campaign. The Huskers had five captains a year ago and six in 2000.

Groce Adds to Nebraska?s All-American History
Senior DeJuan Groce earned first-team All-America honors as a kick returner from the American Football Coaches Association and was the first-team All-America punt returner, according to CNNSI.com. Groce was picked as a third-team All-America kick returner by The Sporting News and the same publication picked him as a fourth-team All-America cornerback.

Groce is the ninth Husker to earn first-team All-America honors in Frank Solich?s five seasons as head coach. Nebraska has now had at least one All-American in all but two (1991, 1998) of the past 33 years. The Huskers have had 89 different players earn first team All-America honors by at least one recognized source with 14 winning double honors for a total of 103 first-team awards.

Groce Leads Outstanding Husker Special Teams Units
Groce earned All-America honors as a special teams standout, while also leading the Husker pass defense and playing a key leadership role for the Blackshirts. Groce has been Nebraska?s top punt returner for the past two seasons and has started at right cornerback for the past three seasons.

Groce is also an electrifying force on Husker special teams. Against Troy State, he set a school record and tied an NCAA mark with two punt return touchdowns. The first covered 83 yards, followed by a 72-yarder later in the game. He added an 89-yard touchdown return against Missouri, giving him three this season, tying Johnny Rodgers? school record, just one return TD from the NCAA record.

Groce broke Rodgers? season-punt return yardage record this season with 630 yards on 35 returns. Rodgers had 618 yards on 39 returns while winning the Heisman in 1972. Groce also owns the No. 4 total on the season punt return list with 469 yards in 2001. He averages 15.9 yards per punt return in his career and 18.0 yards on 35 returns this season to rank third in the nation. Groce is second on the NU career punt return yardage list with 1,116 yards.

Groce?s leadership has been a key to Nebraska?s pass defense which ranks in the nation?s top 30. In recent years, Nebraska has a history of having an experienced cornerback on one side of the field, with a newcomer manning the other corner. In 1996, true freshman Ralph Brown started opposite senior Michael Booker. Brown then served as a mentor for both Erwin Swiney and Keyuo Craver later in his career. Two seasons ago, Craver anchored one corner while DeJuan Groce learned the ropes as a starter at right cornerback. This season, it was Groce?s turn to handle the leadership role, as true freshman Fabian Washington manned the left cornerback spot.

Groce had four interceptions and seven pass breakups this fall despite teams routinely avoiding his side of the field. He had a pair of interceptions in back-to-back wins against Troy State and Utah State early in the season. Those performances marked just the second time in school history that a Husker defender has recorded two interceptions in consecutive games (also Bill Kosch in 1970).

Groce had a season-high three pass breakups at Texas A&M and now has 40 career PBU to rank third on the NU career list. He is the Huskers? single-season PBU record-holder with 17 in 2000. Groce?s four interceptions this season give him eight in his career, just off the career top 10 list. Groce had a career-high 15 tackles in Nebraska?s game against Texas, the most by a Husker defensive back in four seasons.

Nebraska Boasts "Extra" Special Teams
Like his predecessors Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, NU Head Coach Frank Solich has stressed the importance of the Husker special teams. Before the 2002 campaign, Solich mentioned on numerous occasions that this year?s kicking and coverage units had the potential to be very "special." The Husker special teams did not disappoint and played a key role in several of NU?s victories in 2002.

In Nebraska?s season opener, the Huskers blocked two punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown, keying a 48-10 win over Arizona State. The punt return unit stole the show against Troy State as Groce tied an NCAA record with two punt return TDs in NU?s 31-16 victory. The special teams remained solid throughout the season and again played a big role in the 24-13 victory over Missouri. Groce had his third punt return TD of the year and Josh Davis averaged nearly 28 yards on four kickoff returns. NU again blocked two punts against Kansas, returning one for a touchdown.

Here?s a quick look at Nebraska?s special teams dominance in 2002.

  • Punt Returns...Nebraska ranks third in the nation in punt returns, averaging 16.9 yards on 43 punt returns. Groce has returned 35 punts for 630 yards, for a 18.0-yard average, good for third in the nation. Groce?s two punt return touchdowns vs. Troy State not only set a school record, but matched the NCAA record. His 89-yard TD return against Missouri was his third of the season and the third-longest punt return in school history. It also tied the NU school record for punt return TDs in a season, matching Johnny Rodgers? three in 1971. His 155 yards on two returns against Troy State was just 15 yards shy of the school record for punt return yardage in a game. Groce has five punt returns of 25 yards or longer in 2002 and is second on the NU career punt return chart.
  • Place-kicking...Senior place-kicker Josh Brown made 11-of-15 field goals and was perfect in 44 PAT attempts during the regular season. Brown had seven field goals of 40 yards or longer this season, tying a school-record. He entered the season with just four 40-yarders in 12 career attempts from that range. (NU opponents are 3-of-7 from 40-plus yards in 2002). Brown hit on field goals of 40 and 42 yards against Arizona State, marking the first time in his career he has made a pair of 40+-yard field goals in the same game. He has twice hit a regular-season career-long 48-yard field goals (vs. Texas, at Kansas State). Brown has hit 16 of his last 21 field goals dating back to 2001. He ranks fourth at Nebraska with 304 career points. The 2002 campaign marked the second perfect PAT season of Brown?s career. Nebraska?s 13-of-17 field goal performance was the best in Frank Solich?s five seasons as head coach. Brown?s performance on kickoff duties should not be left unnoticed with 38 of his 68 kickoffs this season ended in touchbacks. Brown and Nebraska?s kickoff coverage team have pinned opponents inside the 20 on 11 occasions. Brown was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by the Big 12 Coaches for his performance.
  • Punting...Kyle Larson was a Ray Guy Award semifinalist and was one of the nation?s top punters for the second straight season. Larson ranks 10th in the nation in punting with a 43.2-yard average. He also pinned the opposition inside the 20 on 20 occasions, including three times each vs. Troy State and Oklahoma State. He has pinned opponents inside the 10-yard line eight times, including twice at Penn State. Husker opponents have pinned NU inside the 20 on punts 15 times. Larson averaged better than 45 yards per punt seven times this year, with a career-best 57.3 vs. Utah State, when he also had a career-best 71 yarder. Larson had at least one punt of 45 yards or more in every game except McNeese State (two punts), and had a season-high five punts of 45 yards or more vs. Penn State and Kansas (four of 50 yards or more). Larson had a season-high eight punts at Kansas State. NU ranks ninth nationally in net punting at 38.0 yards per attempt. Larson was Nebraska?s nominee for Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week three times.
  • Blocked Kicks...NU has had a history of being one of the nation?s best kick blocking units. The Huskers exhibited the same ability this season, blocking five punts, including two blocked punts by Lannie Hopkins in the win over Kansas. Hopkins? second blocked kick was returned 30 yards by Aaron Terpening for a touchdown for NU?s second return of a blocked punt for a touchdown this season. Hopkins and Demorrio Williams each blocked a punt in the second half of Nebraska? victory over Arizona State, marking the first time since a 1999 win over Kansas State NU had two blocked punts in the same game. Williams? blocked punt was returned six yards for a score by senior linebacker Scott Shanle. NU?s third punt block of the year came at Iowa State, when Williams and Terpening teamed to block a third-quarter punt, setting the Husker offense up for a touchdown. Texas A&M and Kansas State have both blocked Husker punts for touchdowns, while Texas blocked a Husker field goal.
  • Kickoff Returns...Junior Josh Davis re-wrote the Nebraska kickoff return record book this season. He had seven returns for an NU single-game record 186 yards at Kansas State. In the game Davis also established Husker season and career records for kickoff return yardage. Davis finished the year with 889 kickoff returns yards to break his own season yardage record of 675 yards set last season. Davis now has 1,564 yards on kickoff returns this season, breaking the old career record of 1,493 yards set by Tyrone Hughes from 1989 to 1992. Davis averages 24.0 yards per return, with a season-long 53-yarder at Kansas State to rank 28th in the nation in kickoff return average. He has 13 kickoff returns of 25 yards or more in 2002, including three against Missouri.
  • Kick Coverage...NU has allowed opponents to average 18.6 yards on kickoff returns and only 9.6 yards on 28 punt returns this season. While Groce and Davis have combined for 18 returns of 25 yards or more, NU opponents have just six such returns (two punt, four kickoffs).

Brown, Larson Also Earn Honors for Husker Special Teams
In addition to punt return specialist DeJuan Groce, senior place-kicker Josh Brown and junior punter Kyle Larson were recognized for their outstanding 2002 campaigns.

Brown earned first-team All-Big 12 honors from the Big 12 Coaches and the Kansas City Star, while the Associated Press tabbed him as a second-team selection. Larson was one of 10 punters who were semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award. In addition, Larson was a second-team All-Big 12 choice by the league?s coaches and was an honorable-mention selection by the Associated Press.

Walk-on Endorf Steps up Against Colorado
Walk-on place-kicker Dale Endorf gave Nebraska its own version of "Rudy" in the regular-season finale against Colorado. Endorf, a junior from Wichita, Kan., was added to the Husker roster at midseason when No. 2 place-kicker Sandro DeAngelis was sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot.

Starting place-kicker Josh Brown was suspended for the Colorado game, leaving Endorf as Nebraska?s only kicking option. Endorf?s only previous kicking experience was three kicks at Friends University. Endorf was up to the challenge, connecting on field goals of 33 and 49 yards and making his only PAT attempt. Endorf?s 49-yard field goal was the longest by a Husker this season.

Husker Running Game To Be Crucial in Independence Bowl
Nebraska enters the Independence Bowl as one of the nation?s top rushing teams. The Huskers lead the Big 12 and rank fourth nationally in rushing offense, averaging 268.9 yards per game. Much like its season as a whole, Nebraska has had its ups and downs in the running game throughout the course of the 2002 season.

The Huskers did not hit on all cylinders on the ground early in the season, but averaged 255.5 yards per game through four games. Iowa State held Nebraska to a season-low 81 rushing yards on Sept. 28, but the Huskers ground game got in gear after that loss.

Nebraska averaged 346.8 yards rushing in posting a 4-2 record in its next six games. The Huskers topped the 300-yard barrier in rushing five times in those six games, with at least 259 rushing yards in each game. The Huskers opened the stretch with a season-high 444 yards rushing in a 38-14 victory over McNeese State. In the final game in that six-game streak, Nebraska rushed for 352 yards against Kansas on Nov. 9. In that contest, I-backs David Horne (122) and Dahrran Diedrick (107) both topped 100 yards, and NU had six running plays of more than 25 yards. The Kansas game came on the heels of two impressive rushing performances against two tough defenses.

The Huskers rolled up 320 yards rushing against No. 7 Texas, which boasted the nation?s No. 3 defense entering the game. Quarterback Jammal Lord gouged the Longhorn defense for an NU quarterback record 234 rushing yards on 23 carries (10.2 ypc), and the Huskers had five rushing plays of 20 yards or more in the game.

Nebraska had perhaps its most impressive rushing performance at Texas A&M. The Huskers ran for 381 yards on a season-high 73 attempts and scored five TDs on the ground. The effort was especially remarkable when considering that the Aggies entered the game allowing just 76.9 rushing yards per game. In fact, NU?s 381 rushing yards were the most against Texas A&M in 32 seasons. Before facing the Husker ground game, A&M had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 20 games, but a pair of Huskers topped that mark (Lord, 159; Horne, 128).

Quarterback Jammal Lord and true freshman I-back David Horne keyed Nebraska?s rushing success during the six-game surge. Lord ran for an average of 142.6 yards in those six games and posted the only two 200-yard rushing days by a quarterback in NU history in the period with 218 yards vs. McNeese State and 234 yards against Texas. He also had 159 yards at Texas A&M on an NU quarterback record 30 carries. Horne ended his possible redshirt season after the Iowa State game and ran for 556 yards (92.7 ypg) in his first six games as a Husker. Horne had three 100-yard performances in his first six games.

The Husker rushing game struggled with just 97 yards at Kansas State. In the regular-season finale against Colorado, the Huskers rushed for 215 yards, but did not score a rushing touchdown.

Nebraska had 25 rushing plays of 25 yards or longer this season, with 19 of those long runs coming in the final eight games. The Huskers had just five running plays of 25 yards or more in the first five games.

Lord Joins 1,000-1,000 Club in First Season as Husker Starter
Nebraska junior quarterback Jammal Lord faced a variety of difficult challenges in his first season as the Huskers? starting signal caller. First, he was faced with the duty of following 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, who started 38 games at quarterback from 1998 to 2001. Secondly, Lord guided a young Husker offense that faced seven bowl teams in 2002. While the end result to the season wasn?t exactly what Lord had hoped for, he rebounded from a tough start to the season and produced one of the top total offense seasons in school history.

Lord joined an elite club on Nov. 9 against Kansas. In the game, he rushed for 74 yards and passed for 59 yards and two touchdowns, pushing his season passing total over 1,000 yards. He had previously topped 1,000 rushing yards and became the third Husker quarterback in six seasons to both rush and pass for more than 1,000 yards in the same season, joining Scott Frost (1997) and Eric Crouch (2001). Lord was the 18th player in Division I-A history to accomplish the feat.

The 6-2, 220-pound Lord has produced 2,598 yards of total offense this season, the second-most in school history, trailing only Eric Crouch?s school-record of 2,625 yards set in his Heisman Trophy-winning campaign last year. Lord produced two of the top three single-game total offense marks in school history with an NU record 369 yards vs. McNeese State and 332 yards of total offense against Texas (third).

Lord began making his mark in the record book against McNeese State, posting his school-record total offense mark on just 35 total-offense attempts, good for a remarkable 10.5 yards per attempt. In that game, he also rushed for a then-NU quarterback record 218 yards. Both of the broken records were set last season by Crouch (360 total offense yards at Colorado and 191 rushing yards at Missouri). The McNeese State game marked the first time that Lord topped 100 yards in both rushing and passing in the same contest. He reached the 100-100 mark for the second time at Texas A&M.

The quarterback rushing record set against McNeese State lasted all of four weeks, as Lord rushed for 234 yards on 23 carries against Texas and added 98 yards and a touchdown through the air. Lord?s 234 rushing yards vs. Texas marked his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season. In addition to his two 200-yard outings, he also topped the century mark with 103 yards vs. Arizona State, 111 at Penn State and 159 yards at Texas A&M.

Lord?s 159 yards at Texas A&M came on a Nebraska quarterback record 30 carries. In that game, Lord pushed both his career rushing and passing totals past the 1,000-yard marks. He now has 1,542 career rushing yards to rank 29th on the NU list and 1,450 passing, good for 18th on the Husker career chart.

Lord broke the Nebraska season quarterback rushing record during the Texas game and has put together one of the top rushing seasons in school history, regardless of position. Lord finished the regular season with 1,329 yards rushing, the seventh-best rushing season by a Husker and the most since 1997.

Lord led Nebraska in rushing eight times in 2002. In addition to leading Nebraska in rushing yards (1,276) and rushing touchdowns (8), Lord averages 5.7 yards per carry. By comparison, Crouch averaged 5.5 yards per rush in winning the Heisman last season. Lord?s 102.2 yards rushing per game rank 33rd in the nation and fifth in the Big 12 Conference. Lord is second nationally in rushing among quarterbacks. His 199.8 total offensive yards per game rank ninth in the Big 12.

The McNeese State game was a career-best passing day for Lord in terms of completions (12), yards (151) and percentage (.667). He topped 100 yards passing eight times in 2002, including six of the final nine games in the regular season. Lord has thrown for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

Lord Supplies Nebraska With Big-Play Threat
One of the attributes Nebraska coaches saw in Jammal Lord from the start of the season was his big-play ability. The junior has not disappointed in that department this season, accounting for 38 plays of 20 yards or longer.

Lord has 20 rushes of 25 yards or more this season, including at least one in each of Nebraska?s last eight games. He has broke off eight runs of 35 yards or longer, including five in the final five games of the regular season. The NU signal caller has accounted for nine of NU?s 12 longest runs of the season. Against McNeese State, Lord had two touchdown runs of longer than 50 yards (56, 57) marking the first time a Husker has had two 50-plus yard scoring runs in a game since 1999.

Lord connected on 18 pass plays of 20 yards or more this season. He hit a season-long 90-yard TD pass to Ross Pilkington at Iowa State, good for the third-longest pass play in NU history. Lord also connected on a pair of long touchdown passes to tight end Matt Herian, a 60-yarder against Texas and an 80-yard connection vs. Colorado to end the regular season.

Lord?s big-play ability compares favorably with 2001 Heisman winner Eric Crouch. Twenty-four of Lord?s long plays covered 25 yards or more, equal to Crouch?s 24 plays of 25 yards or longer in 12 games last season (10 rush, 13 pass, 1 receiving).

Lord Puts His Name in Husker Record Book
A brief list of the school records quarterback Jammal Lord established in 2002 follows:

  • Total Offense, Game....369 yards vs. McNeese State old record...Eric Crouch, 360 yards at Colorado, 2001
  • Rushing Yards by a Quarterback, Game....234 yards vs. Texas old record...Eric Crouch, 191 yards at Colorado, 2001 (Tommie Frazier, 199 yards vs. Florida, 1996 Fiesta Bowl)
  • Rushing Yards by a Quarterback, Season....1,329, 2002 old record...Eric Crouch, 1,115 yards in 2001
  • Rushing Attempts by a Quarterback, Game....30 at Texas A&M old record...Eric Crouch, 27 vs. Kansas State, 1999
  • Rushing Attempts by a Quarterback, Season....234, 2002 old record...Eric Crouch, 203 in 2001
  • Total Offense Attempts, Season....422, 2002 old record...Eric Crouch, 392 in 2001
  • 4 Total Offense Yards by a Junior, Season....2,598, 2002 old record...Eric Crouch, 2,072 in 2000
  • 4 Total Offense Yards by a Junior, Game....369 yards vs. McNeese St.old record...Dave Humm, 305 vs. Wisconsin, 1973

Diedrick Climbs into Top 10 on NU Rushing List
Senior I-back Dahrran Diedrick finished second in rushing yards for Nebraska this season with 839 yards. In the process, Diedrick made a steady climb up the Nebraska rushing charts and now sits in the top 10 on that impressive list.

Diedrick cracked the top 10 in Nebraska?s 45-7 victory over Kansas. In the game, Diedrick had his first 100-yard rushing day of the season with 107 yards on 12 carries against Kansas. He bolted 53 yards for a first-quarter touchdown to give NU a 7-0 lead, marking the longest run of his Husker career.

His effort against the Jayhawks moved Diedrick past five former Huskers and into ninth place on the NU career rushing list. Diedrick now has 2,653 career rushing yards.

Diedrick capped the regular season with an outstanding effort against Colorado at Memorial Stadium. He carried 13 times for 96 yards against the Buffs, including a 25-yard scamper, for his second-highest rushing output of the season. Diedrick also topped 90 yards against Utah State, carrying 16 times for 93 yards against the Aggies. He rushed for 85 yards on 15 carries against Texas A&M, including 78 yards on nine carries after halftime. Diedrick finished the regular season with six rushing touchdowns this season and 26 in his career, the 14th-most in school history.

At 6-0 and 225 pounds, Diedrick supplies the Huskers with a physical running complement to freshman I-back David Horne. Along with the I-back tandem, quarterback Jammal Lord gives Nebraska one of the nation?s most lethal three-player rushing threats. Diedrick was a first-team All-Big 12 pick last season after leading the league in rushing with 1,299 yards. He also scored 15 touchdowns and rushed for 100 or more yards in seven of 11 regular-season appearances.

Going Around the Horne
I-back David Horne gave the Husker running game a kick-start after ending his possible redshirt season in early October. Horne did not play in the season?s first five games, but made his debut after the Iowa State game, in which Nebraska ran for just 81 yards.

Horne rushed for 586 yards (73.2 ypg) in his eight regular-season apperances and rushed for more than 100 yards three times this season. Horne?s first career 100-yard game came at Oklahoma State, when he had 125 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. A week later at Texas A&M, Horne rushed for a career-best 128 yards and four touchdowns (most ever vs. A&M) and added 122 rushing yards on just nine carries against Kansas two weeks later.

In the Oklahoma State game, Horne became the first true freshman I-back to rush for more than 100 yards since DeAngelo Evans had 130 yards in the 1996 Big 12 Championship Game against Texas. Horne was the first Husker frosh at any position to top 100 yards rushing since redshirt freshman quarterback Eric Crouch had 108 yards in a 40-30 loss at Kansas State in 1998. Horne?s 100-yard outing at Oklahoma State marked the first time a Husker back had topped 100 yards since Dahrran Diedrick rushed for 108 yards on 24 carries vs. Kansas State on Nov. 10, 2001.

Horne?s four touchdowns at Texas A&M were the most by a Husker freshman since fellow Omaha Central graduate Calvin Jones rushed for a school-record six TDs at Kansas in 1991 as a redshirt freshman. Horne and Dahrran Diedrick both topped 100 yards against Kansas, the first time this season a pair of Husker running backs have cracked the century mark.

Horne?s speed and field vision were evident immediately in his debut against McNeese State. He made a strong first impression, rushing 12 times for 81 yards. He backed that performance up with 88 yards on a team-high 20 carries against Missouri, including 46 yards on a key second-quarter touchdown drive. He also added his first career touchdown on a five-yard run in the first quarter against the Tigers.

The 6-0, 190-pound Horne finished the regular season with a 5.2-yard per carry average. His 586 rushing yards rank fifth on the Nebraska single-season list for most rushing yards by a freshman. Three of the top five spots on that chart are now owned by Omaha Central products, including Ahman Green, Calvin Jones and now Horne.

Husker O-Line Paves Way for Big 12?s Leading Rushing Attack
Not to be forgotten in Nebraska?s rushing success in the second half of the 2002 campaign is the play of the Husker offensive line. The Husker offensive front, which featured three new starters in 2002, helped Nebraska lead the Big 12 and rank fourth nationally in rushing offense at 268.9 yards per game.

Three Husker offensive linemen were honored for their play during the season. Senior center John Garrison was a preseason member of the Outland Tropy and Rimington Award watch lists and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors from several sources and honorable-mention accolades from the Associated Press and Big 12 Coaches.

Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Richie Incognito made a big impression in his first season of action. Incognito was selected as a first-team freshman All-American by both The Sporting News, who also placed him on its first-team All-Big 12 squad. Rivals.com also listed Incognito as a frosh All-American and he earned honorable-mention all-conference honors from the Associated Press and Big 12 Coaches. Junior right tackle Dan Waldrop was also an honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick by the AP.

The offensive line was at their best over the season?s final weeks, highlighted by a trademark Husker performance in Nebraska?s 38-31 comeback victory at Texas A&M. In that contest, Nebraska stacked up a school-record 110 pancakes, bettering the previous high of 101 knock-downs against Baylor in 2000.

Incognito had 28 knock-down blocks against the Aggies, the second-highest total in school history, trailing only Toniu Fonoti?s 32 against Texas Tech in 2001. Incognito finished as Nebraska?s season leader with 171 pancakes, the second-highest single-season total at Nebraska since official records have been kept beginning with the 1995 season. Incognito posted 106 of his pancakes in the final six games of the regular season. In that stretch, he averaged nearly 18 pancakes per game and had three games with 20 or more pancakes.

Incognito leads Nebraska with nine double-figure pancake games, while center John Garrison has seven such games and tied his career-high with 20 pancakes at Texas A&M. The senior captain is second on the team in pancakes with 140 and his 271 career pancakes ranks seventh in school history.

In addition to Incognito and Garrison, three other Husker offensive linemen had career-high pancake totals against A&M. Waldrop?s 24 pancakes in that game were the fourth-highest total in school history, seven better than his previous career high. Offensive guard Mike Erickson (16) and fellow guard Junior Tagoa?i (18) also bettered their previous best outings in the offensive line?s record-setting performance against the Aggies.

Thomas Among Nebraska?s Career Receiving Leaders
Senior split end Wilson Thomas leads Nebraska with 27 receptions, 319 receiving yards and three touchdowns this season. The 6-6 Thomas has 65 career recptions to rank eighth on Nebraska?s career list.

Thomas opened the season with three catches, including a touchdown against Arizona State. He also has touchdown grabs against Utah State and Kansas, while catching a season-high five passes at Iowa State. Thomas had four catches for a season-high 59 yards at Texas A&M.

Thomas? four-catch effort against Texas A&M marked the 14th time in his career that he has caught three or more passes, including five times in 2002. He had three or more grabs nine times last season, including six each in key victories over Oklahoma and Kansas State. He capped the 2001 regular season with a career-best 109 receiving yards against Colorado, including a career-long 78-yard reception, the longest non-scoring pass in NU school history.

With 943 career receiving yards, Thomas ranks 14th on the NU charts and is 57 yards from becoming just the 12th player in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards. He recorded four pass receptions this season covering 20 yards or more, with two of those going for touchdowns.

Thomas? 37 receptions in 2001 were the most by any Husker since All-American Irving Fryar caught 40 balls in 1983, and the sixth-most ever by a Husker. His 616 receiving yards ranked as the fifth-best single-season total in school history and was a record for Husker split ends.

Thomas has spent his past two offseasons playing for Coach Barry Collier?s Husker basketball team. Last season Thomas averaged 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 16 games, including a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds against Missouri in Lincoln. He has not yet decided whether he will join the Huskers on the hardwood this winter.

Kelsay?s Return Aids Blackshirt Defense
Senior rush end Chris Kelsay entered his senior season as a strong contender for conference and national honors. He was also counted on to be a dominant player on the Husker front four and provide leadership to a youthful Husker defense.

Early in the season Kelsay showed why he was a preseason All-Big 12 pick by the league?s media. In addition to his first-team all-league notice by the conference media, Kelsay was a first-team All-Big 12 pick by The Sporting News, which listed him as the nation?s No. 5 defensive end. Kelsay, a senior from Auburn, Neb., was also on preseason watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Bronko Nagurski Award.

The 6-5, 260-pound Kelsay totaled nine tackles for loss, including 4.5 sacks, in the first five games of the season. He also hurried opposing quarterbacks 14 times through five games, while routinely being double-teamed. Kelsay?s season took an abrupt turn in the first quarter against McNeese State, when he suffered an injury to his right hamstring. The injury required a slow rehabiliation process and caused him to miss the next five games.

Kelsay quickly exhibited his impact on the Nebraska defense in his return from the injury against Kansas State. Despite not being on the field for six weeks, Kelsay had a career-high 11 tackles, including a sack against the 11th-ranked Wildcats.

Despite missing a large portion of the season, Kelsay finished as the team leader in sacks with 5.5 for 40 yards, including a two-sack effort against Arizona State. He also led Nebraska in quarterback hurries with 18, including four each against Arizona State, Utah State and Penn State. Kelsay finished second on the team in tackles for loss with 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage for a total of 48 yards. He added three pass breakups at the line of scrimmage.

Kelsay still had an impact on the Husker defense even while sidelined with an injury. Several of his teammates credited Kelsay with encouraging the defensive troops from the sideline throughout the Blackshirts? top performance of 2002 against Missouri Missouri. In addition, Kelsay was instrumental in a defensive players? meeting where the defense set goals for the game. The goals set included 13 or fewer points, less than 100 yards rushing allowed and fewer than 250 total yards by the Tigers. NU met all of those goals.

The play of Kelsay in his limited game time this fall was noticed. He earned second-team All-Big 12 honors from the Kansas City Star and was an honorable-mention pick by the league?s coaches and the Associated Press. In addition, Kelsay was a National Football Foundation/College Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete, earning an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Kelsay has 11.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss in his Husker career, just two TFL from the top 10 on the Nebraska career list. Kelsay recorded 52 total tackles as a junior, including a team-best 17 tackles for losses totaling 58 yards and five sacks. He has 28 overall tackles this season and 125 stops in his career.

Standout Husker Freshmen Receive National Attention
Five true freshman saw action for the Huskers this season, the most in Frank Solich?s five years as head coach. The last time Nebraska played more true freshmen was in the national champonship season of 1997, Tom Osborne?s last season as head coach. In addition to five true freshmen, several redshirt freshmen made a significant impact this fall and Nebraska is certainly not without young talent on its roster.

The play of the Husker freshmen did not go unnoticed. Redshirt freshman Richie Incognitio led the way, earning first-team freshman All-America accolades from The Sporting News and Rivals.com. Cornerback Fabian Washington earned second-team frosh All-America honors from The Sporting News, while the publication made I-back David Horne a fourth-team pick. Incognito, Washington and Horne were joined on TSN?s Big 12 All-Freshman Team by true frosh split end Ross Pilkington, true freshman tight end Matt Herian and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith.

True Frosh Make Splash for 2002 Huskers
Each of the five true freshmen who saw action this fall made a significant impact for Nebraska. Split end Ross Pilkington is in his first season as a Husker after two seasons of minor league baseball, while I-back David Horne, split end Mark LeFlore, tight end Matt Herian and cornerback Fabian Washington are all less than a year removed from high school.

As a group, the freshmen had a an outstanding season with a number of highlight moment. Against Oklahoma State, Nebraska had 369 yards of total offense, 204 (55 percent) of which were accounted for by true freshmen. The Texas A&M game was similar as the frosh accounted for 185 yards of total offense, with Horne rushing for 128 yards and Pilkington grabbing two passes for 52 yards. Washington added three pass breakups and seven tackles in the victory. Against Texas, NU freshmen combined for five of the Huskers? seven pass receptions.

The true freshmen wasted no time this season making their presence known. In fact, three of the five scored touchdowns on the first touch of their Husker careers. In the season opener, Washington intercepted an Arizona State pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. Two games later against Utah State, Herian turned his first career reception into a 33-yard TD. He added five pass receptions the remainder of the season, including a 60-yard touchdown against Texas and an 80-yard score in the regular-season finale vs. Colorado. The Pierce, Neb., native averages an amazing 43.3 yards per catch.

LeFlore got into the act against McNeese State, taking his first career carry on a reverse 64 yards for a touchdown to give NU a 31-7 fourth-quarter advantage. Horne has scored seven touchdowns and Pilkington scored on a 90-yard TD at Iowa State, the Huskers? longest pass play in 37 years.

Washington and Pilkington were the only two members of the group to play in the season opener. The 6-0, 175-pound Washington took over starting duties at left corner against McNeese State and has a nose for the football. Washington has a Nebraska freshman record four interceptions this season and has also recovered and forced a fumble, while breaking up a team-high 11 passes, one off the NU freshman record.

Pilkington ranks second on the team in receptions (13) and receiving yards (277), good for a 21.3-yard per catch average. He had a streak of eight straight games with a catch at one point this season, and his 13 receptions are a NU freshman record. His 277 receiving yards leave him just five yards away from Johnny Mitchell?s 1990 frosh receiving yardage record of 282 yards. Pilkington originally committed to the Huskers in February of 2000, but played two seasons of minor league baseball in the Colorado Rockies? organization before coming to Lincoln.

Huskers Pull Off Historic Comeback at Texas A&M
The Huskers showed their resilience in picking up a 38-31 victory at Texas A&M on Oct. 26, just the Aggies? 11th home loss in the past 14 years. In the game, Nebraska rallied from a 31-14 third-quarter deficit to upend the Aggies. The rally tied the top come-from-behind effort in school history and was Nebraska?s best under Head Coach Frank Solich.

A few notes on Nebraska?s comeback victory at Texas A&M.

  • The previous largest deficit Nebraska had overcome to win under Frank Solich was 10 points against Missouri on Oct. 24, 1998, in Lincoln. NU trailed 13-3 in the second quarter, but rallied for a 20-13 win.
  • The Huskers? rally from 17 points behind tied the largest comeback in school history. NU trailed 17-0 in the first quarter of its 1991 game at Kansas, but rallied to win 59-23.
  • Nebraska?s previous victory when trailing after three quarters was on Nov. 27, 1998, when the Huskers trailed Colorado 14-13 after three quarters, but pulled out a 16-14 victory.
  • Before the A&M game, NU had not won a game when trailing at any point in the fourth quarter since a 34-32 victory over Colorado on Nov. 24, 2000. CU led 32-31 late in the game, but NU?s Josh Brown hit a game-winning field goal on the last play of the contest.
  • Nebraska trailed 31-21 entering the fourth quarter at Texas A&M. The last time Nebraska rallied from a bigger deficit entering the fourth quarter was on Oct. 22, 1966, at Colorado. The Huskers trailed 19-7 entering the fourth quarter, but rallied for a 21-19 victory. Nebraska rallied from 10-point deficits entering the fourth quarter twice for bowl victories under Tom Osborne. NU trailed Florida 10-0 entering the fourth in the 1974 Sugar Bowl and won 13-10 and was behind North Carolina 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter of the 1977 Liberty Bowl, but escaped with a 21-17 victory.

Poll Position
Nebraska fell out of the top 25 in both polls after the loss at Iowa State, ending a streak of 348 straight weeks in the Associated Press Poll. Nebraska had been ranked in every AP weekly poll since October of 1981.

Nebraska faced four opponents who were ranked by the Associated Press at gametime in 2002, including Iowa State, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado. Iowa State has since fallen from the rankings, but the other three Big 12 opponents join Oklahoma in the rankings to give the Big 12 four teams in the polls. Kansas State (6 AP/6 Coaches) leads the way, followed by Oklahoma (8/8), Texas (9/9) and Colorado (14/14). Nebraska?s non-conference opponent Penn State is 10th in both of this week?s polls.

Nebraska opened the 2002 season ranked in the Associated Press preseason top 25 for the 33rd consecutive season. The Huskers were ranked No. 10 in this year?s AP preseason listing, the 10th consecutive season Nebraska has opened in the Top 10. The Huskers were ranked eighth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches preseason poll.

Nebraska?s AP preseason ranking was its lowest since opening at No. 11 in 1992, but marked the fifth straight season under Solich that NU was in the preseason top 10. Under Solich, Nebraska?s loftiest preseason ranking came in 2000, when the Huskers were listed first in both AP and coaches polls.

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