Nebraska escapes Pittsburgh with a win

After the first half against the Pittsburgh Panthers, you might have thought that Nebraska was back on track. Joe Dailey's turnovers, the soft pass defense over the middle and a team that seemed bound and determined to lose anyway it could. The second half brought deja vu all over again, but Nebraska escapes, beating Pitt. 24-17.

10-15 for 128 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. From last week to this week, I'm sure if you would have asked anyone from the Nebraska team if they would take that as a first-half stat, to a man, they would be grinning ear-to-ear.

Oh, if Nebraska could have only stopped the Pittsburgh game at halftime, that grin wouldn't have faded to a frustrated scowl.

Up 24-10 at half, Nebraska's offense wasn't spectacular up to that point by any stretch of the imagination. What they were was efficient, Dailey's completion percentage over 66, Nebraska with over a five minute advantage in time of possession and a defense that was playing expectedly solid. When the halftime whistle went off, Pittsburgh had managed just 92 yards in total offense and threw 3 interceptions.

Then, the second half came.

A half that saw this Panthers team that couldn't put up 50 yards in passing on the University of Ohio last week, put up 158 yards on Nebraska, one pass going for a score.

Conversely, Nebraska didn't even manage 100 yards in the second half and to make matters worse, Joe Dailey threw what is now his 8th interception on the year, the very first play on offense for Pitt. resulting in that aforementioned TD.

For Callahan though, it's a win and considering everything that the Huskers have yet to learn, he wasn't willing to risk that for possibly padding the score. "I did not want to really air it out." Callahan said. "Especially in the second half. We just tried to play down and distance."

Part of that conservative play-calling was also as Callahan said, due to the conditions of the field. "They (city of Pittsburgh) had a massive rain and flood over the past 2 days, so the field condition was not unexpected."

"I thought in the 3rd ¼ we dropped some balls, and our footing continued to be not as good as we would have hoped."

Joe Dailey echoed that sentiment, stating that the conditions dictated much of the game. "I don't think we played conservative today, Dailey said, but the field was not in the best condition due to the storms they had here, that made it tough."

That footing was particularly bothersome to the hard-cutting Cory Ross, the Junior tailback only managing to average apprx. 3 yards per rush, Ross carrying the ball 24 times for a total of 73 yards.

While the conditions weren't helping Nebraska, they didn't help the Panthers as well, Pitt starting off the game horrendously, Tyler Palko tossing all 3 of their first-half picks.

Nabbing one of those picks was defensive end Wali Muhammad, who took advantage of his extended play today with the loss due to injury of starting RE, Adam Carriker. "I was playing drop back on coverage." Muhammad said. "It was something we saw on film, and he just threw it my way."

"I looked at the wide receiver, look back toward the QB, and when I saw the ball coming my way, I just reached up and grabbed it." On the day, Muhammad had the interception, plus a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and 3 solo tackles along with 2 passes deflected.

As for Pittsburgh's defense, the Panthers did quite well as Nebraska who was ranked 11th in the country with 528 yards per game in total offense managed just 265 in this game, only 123 coming by way of the rush, almost a full 200 yards lower than their 7th ranked average of 318 per game.

"Give Pitt defense a lot of credit." Callahan said. "They kept their team in the game and played with a lot of confidence as well. They are a good team and expected to play well today."

With the win, Nebraska pushes their record to 2-1 on the year and will have a week off before they host Kansas on October 2nd.

Statistics

Steve Ryan can be reached at SteveRyan@bigredreport.com or 402-730-5619


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