Sept 24, 2002
Associated Press - For the first time in the 97 meetings between Nebraska and Iowa State, the Cyclones are ranked higher than their Big 12 counterparts.
That comes just as Nebraska is struggling badly against ranked foes.
Looking to end its struggles against ranked opponents on the road, No. 20 Nebraska (3-1) meets No. 19 Iowa State (4-1) Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.
The Big 12 opener for both teams marks just the third time both have been ranked in the Top 25, and comes as the Cornhuskers are looking to end unmatched futility against ranked opponents.
The Huskers are 1-6 against ranked teams away from Lincoln under coach Frank Solich. In their last three such contests, Nebraska has been outscored 136-60.
Nebraska lost 40-7 at Penn State on Sept. 14, as the Nittany Lions rolled up 476 yards of total offense. That debacle followed similar embarrassments in the final two games of last season, a 62-36 loss at Colorado and a 34-17 loss to Miami in the national championship game. The Cornhuskers have allowed an average of 510 yards in those contests.
"Last year, we just kind of looked at the problems we had and put those things to rest over the course the spring," defensive coordinator Craig Bohl said. "(The Penn State game) was a completely independent game from past games that we played."
The Cornhuskers haven't been successful on the offensive side of the ball in those games either.
Though junior quarterback Jammal Lord finished with 111 rushing yards on 14 carries against Penn State, he completed just 8 of 16 passes for 76 yards. He also tossed three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Despite those woes, Solich is confident his team is ready for a turnaround. The Cornhuskers had a bye week to regroup before preparing for Iowa State.
"We really went back to square one," Solich said. "We didn't play as well as we were capable of playing. We had really too many breakdowns on both sides of the ball."
While the Cornhuskers are trying to solve their woes against ranked opponents, Iowa State is trying to end its frustrations against Nebraska.
The Cyclones have lost nine straight to the Cornhuskers and 23 of the last 24 in the series.
"This is a game that has always been a mismatch," said Iowa State coach Dan McCarney, who is 0-7 against the Cornhuskers. "We'll try to make it a four-quarter game. We haven't done that yet."
But this season, the Cyclones appear to have their best chance of knocking off the Huskers.
Iowa State's offensive attack features Seneca Wallace, a former receiver who is a threat to run or pass.
The senior quarterback has completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 1,433 yards and nine touchdowns against four interceptions. Under his direction, the Cyclones are averaging 42.4 points and 447.8 yards per game.
In Saturday's 42-12 victory over Troy State, Wallace completed 17 of 25 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored on a 1-yard run.
Iowa State has won four straight since its 38-31 loss to then-No. 3 Florida State on Aug. 24. Yet McCarney doesn't think any of those victories have come against a team of Nebraska's caliber.
"A much better football team will come into Ames and we've got to play much better," McCarney said after the win over Troy State. "But we're looking forward to it. I think we've earned the right to play this game."
Iowa State coach Dan McCarney is 0-7 against the Huskers.