In 2003 Frank Solich, and Nebraska hired Bo Pelini as it’s Defensive Coordinator. Nebraska finished the 2002 season with a 7-7 record, and one year removed from a National Championship apperance. Pelini took over a .500 defense that allowed 24 points a game the previous year.
Nebraska allowed just 7 points in their first game of the 2003 season against Oklahoma State. The Huskers would allow just 7.75 points per game through the non-conference, including a shut out of Troy in week 5.
Nebraska finished 10-3, fired Frank Solich, and Bo Pelini coached the Bowl Game. A 17-3 win over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl. With the departure of Solich, Pelini left Nebraska.
Nebraska hired Bill Callahan, and the darkest years in Nebraska history unfolded from 2004-2007.
The Huskers hired Tom Osborne in 2007 as the Athletic Director. Osborne fired Callahan at the end of the 2007 season, and hired Pelini away from LSU after the Tigers had just won a National Championship.
LSU was the first team to win a National Championship with two losses. Those losses include a 43-37 loss at No. 17 Kentucky, and a 50-48 loss to unranked Alabama.
In his first season at Nebraska, Pelini inherited the No. 111th ranked defense in the country, and a 5-7 team. In Pelini’s first season, he had a senior quarterback in Joe Ganz, and a junior defensive tackle by the name of Ndamukong Suh. In his first season, Pelini won 9 games. His key losses were to Missouri 17-52, and at Oklahoma 28-62. The other two losses were close to Virginia Tech, and Texas Tech. Pelini finished the season with a win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl, 26-21.
In his second season, Suh was considered to be one of the best defensive linemen in the country, and the “Blackshirts” were thought to be back. Pelini went on to win 10 games, but still lost 3 games. Pelini recorded his first shut out as a head coach, beating Louisiana-Lafayette 55-0 in the 300th consecutive sell-out game at Memorial Stadium. The most embarrassing loss of the season was a 9-6 loss to Iowa State in Lincoln. The Huskers offense continued to struggle all season. Pelini did give up a double digit point loss to Texas Tech 31-10 in Lincoln. The Huskers finished strong, by coming up just short against No. 2 Texas in the Big 12 championship game 13-12. Suh ended up in New York as a Hiesman Trophy finalist. He helped lead a shut out against Arizona in the Holiday Bowl 33-0. Pelini’s defense only gave up 10.4 points a game, and came into the 2011 season ranked in the top 10.
The Huskers opened up play against Western Kentucky, and they unvalued a new freshman quarterback by the name of Taylor Martinez. Martinez was spark to a struggling offense from 2010. He was the most mobile Nebraska quarterback since Jamal Lord in 2003. He had an awkward throwing motion, but through the first four games, Martinez landed himself in the Hiesman race. Nebraska started the season 5-0, before losing to an unranked Texas team in Lincoln 20-13. The Huskers finished the regular season 10-2. The other loss was to Texas A&M in College Station, by a score of 6-9. The A&M game was the second game in two years Pelini’s offense had not scored a touchdown in a game.
After getting up 17-0 against Oklahoma, the Huskers lost their last Big 12 game 23-20. The Huskers were leaving the Big 12 to go to the Big 10. In their last chance to win the Conference, they only scored 3 points in the 2nd half. After being let down in the Conference Championship Game, they played a Washington team that they beat 56-21 earlier in the season. The Huskers came out clearly unmotivated, and the Huskies made them pay for it.
In a speech after the Holiday Bowl a year earlier, Pelini addressed the crowd and said, “Nebraska is back, and we are here to stay.” After a 19-7 loss to Washington in the Holiday Bowl, Nebraska fans felt truly disappointed for the first time since Pelini was hired. The Huskers gave up 17.3 points a game. That was one more touchdown a game than a year ago.
Nebraska entered their first season in the Big 10 ranked No. 10 in the country. They finished the non-conference schedule unbeaten for the first time since 2001. They opened Big 10 play in Madison against No. 7 Wisconsin. The Badgers racked up 48 points against Pelini’s Blackshirts. The Huskers went on to win the next 3 games, and then Northwestern came to town. The Huskers lost to the unranked Wildcats in Lincoln by a score of 28-25. The Huskers went on to beat a Penn State team in the shadow of the biggest scandal in college football history. The week after that Pelini, took his Huskers to Ann Arbor, to face a more focused Michigan team, and first year head coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines rolled. They routed the Huskers 45-17. The Blackshirts gave up, 418 yards of offense.
The Huskers finished the season missing the Big 10 Championship game, and getting routed 30-13 by South Carolina. The Huskers finished the season unranked and 4 losses. The defense gave up 23.3 points a game.
Nebraska entered the 2013 season ranked No. 17. Redshirt junior Taylor Martinez seemed to find his rhythm in the first game. The Huskers beat Southern Miss. 49-20. The Husker Defense has allowed 27.6 points per game through 6 games. Pelini’s defense allowed a school record 658 yards, before UCLA took 3 knees at the end of the game to finish with 653 yards. The 2nd most yards given up in school history. Nebraska is coming off the biggest loss since Pelini came to Lincoln. The Blackshirts gave up 63 points to Ohio State. The 2013 defense is clearly the worst statistically since Pelini has been in Lincoln. Nebraska enters their Bye week with Northwestern, a team who beat the Huskers in Lincoln last year, to prepare for.
Bo Pelini’s job is not in jeopardy right now, but if the Wildcats can beat the Huskers, there may be talk of Pelini’s seat getting hot. His record 42-17 as a head coach. He is only one of six active head coaches in FBS that have no fewer than 9 wins in 3 or more seasons. With the two huge losses to UCLA, and Ohio State, some Husker fans are calling for Pelini’s job. In the next few weeks Pelini has the ability to either cement himself in Husker Lore, or be looking for another head coaching job next season. The Northwestern game is the stepping stone to the rest of the season.
By Jimmie Allen
Contact the writer at [email protected]
Follow us on Twitter @Husker Corner
Become our friend on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HuskerCorner