USC handles Nebraska run attack

The Nebraska Cornhuskers traveled to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the fist time since 1970. That year Nebraska was ranked #9 and USC was #3 in the nation. The outcome of the game resulted in a 21-21 tie.

This time around USC was ranked No. 2 / 4 and Nebraska was 19th in both polls. USC was riding a 27-game winning streak at the Coliseum, last losing to Stanford in 2001.  Nebraska was in the midst of a 7-game losing streak on the road to ranked opponents. 


All indications were pointing to USC continuing both those streaks as Nebraska entered the contest as a 17-point underdog.


The 92,000-seat sellout at the Coliseum saw USC dominate the game 28-10 behind Trojan quarterback John David Booty, receiver Dwayne Jarrett and a USC defense that handled Nebraska's running game.


Nebraska received the ball to begin the game but went three and out.  On USC‘s first possession, the Trojans moved the ball to the Nebraska 29-yard line, but was held on fourth and two.


Nebraska took the over on downs and failed to convert a first down on three downs.  NU lined up for a punt but punter Dan Titchener faked it and threw a perfect pass to a wide open Todd Peterson for 28 yards.  Nebraska failed to convert the faked punt in to points an ended up punting the ball to the USC five-yard line.


Nebraska held USC at bay, forcing a punt.  Punt returner, Terrence Nunn fielded the ensuing punt and ran 31 yards to the Trojan 23.  Nebraska went three and out and ended up kicking a 38-yard field goal by place kicker Jordan Congdon.


Nebraska found no answer for Trojan quarterback Booty and receiver Jarrett.  Booty directed USC on a 9 play 83-yard drive that ended up in a 12-yard TD to Jarrett at the close of the first quarter.  USC led 7-3.


The second quarter saw NU move the ball down to the USC 36.  A nice run by Lucky was negated by a holding penalty which proved to be a huge play.  Husker quarterback Zac Taylor was sacked for 11 yards and later NU was forced to punt.


USC went on another long drive by going 11 plays for 71 yards capped off by Booty to Steve Smith for three yards making it 14-3.


NU got the ball back with under three minutes to go, but subsequently ran the clock out till halftime.  The Huskers attempted only nine passes, completing five of those for 54 yards. 


Nebraska had 98 total yards at halftime to USC's 197.  USC quarterback Booty was 14-18 passing for 149 yards and two touchdowns, while receiver Jarrett caught six balls for 86 yards and one touchdown.


USC got the ball first in the second half.  The Huskers had two near misses for an interception which could have changed the momentum.  They forced the Trojans to a three and out and got the ball back.  On the first play of the game, Taylor fumbled the exchange to running back Marlon Lucky and it was recovered by USC.


USC only needed four plays to go 31 yards ending in a Booty to Jarrett touchdown from five yards out.


Nebraska continued with its ground game with little success and finding themselves down 21-3.


NU finally got their passing game going at the end of the third quarter.  The big plays were to Nunn for 21 yards and then followed up by a 36-yard strike to tight end Matt Herian to the Trojans three yard line.  The Huskers had to use all four downs to finally score their first touchdown of the game on a one-yard bootleg run by Taylor.


The Huskers were back in the game down 21-10 with 12:44 to go in the game.


Unfortunately, the Trojans answered and broke the momentum of the Huskers.  Booty guided USC on a 14 play, 81-yard touchdown drive that ate up over six minutes of the fourth quarter.  The Trojans now had a 28-10 lead.  Nebraska never seriously threatened on their next possession and USC ran out the final 5:18 of the game.


NU head coach Bill Callahan, said the Huskers were gamers and that USC was an outstanding team.


"Our kids gave an outstanding effort tonight.  They competed hard and will improve and gain value from this game.  USC is an outstanding team.  Jarrett is a monster and a Heisman Trophy candidate," he said.


"We had some positives from this game such as our special teams play and stopping the run on defense," said Callahan.


The big question though was why Nebraska's offense put so much of an emphasis on the running game.  NU attempted only 17 passes, completing nine for 143 yards.


"We wanted to establish the running game, said Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan.  "That was our game plan going in."


"You need to establish a running game in a hostile environment such as this, especially on the road.  Consequently it did not work," he said.


NU assistant coach Shawn Watson also felt as though they needed to run the ball against USC.


"We wanted to establish a physical running scheme.  We watched game film on what Fresno State did to USC from last year and thought we could take it right at them.  Because of their speed we wanted to run east and west, going right at them," said Watson.


The game plan did not materialize as the Huskers finished with 68 yards on 36 carries, averaging only 1.9 yards per rush.  All four of the Huskers running backs (Marlon Lucky, Cody Glenn, Kenny Wilson and Brandon Jackson) averaged over 5 yards per carry over the previous two games.



Offensive Lineman, Matt Slauson said mistakes on offense and USC's speed on defense were two reasons for the poor rushing performance.


"Their (USC) d-line has a lot of speed.  We have confidence in our running game but we made too many mistakes," he said.


Taylor thought NU had their chances.  "We had our opportunities but we just shot ourselves in the foot.  That fumble with Lucky was a huge play and a turning point," he said.


"We could have made it a closer game, they are a team we can play with," said Taylor.

Post Game Audio

Bill Callahan - sticking to the gameplan
Jay Norvell - we wanted to run
Tierre Green - we just didn't get it done
Cortney Grixby- It was their day today
Kevin Cosgrove - Missed opportunities
Adam Carriker- we didn't do our job
Andre Jones - I hope we see them again
Stewart Bradley- they don't make any mistakes
Zac Taylor - I could have done a lot better

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