Fighting History

Emily Arthur

Nebraska is hoping history repeats itself. Iowa State is ready to prove it won’t.

The No. 20 Huskers (3-1) and No. 19 Cyclones (4-1) meet for the 97th time Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium. Nebraska has won the last nine meetings, including a 77-14 win in Lincoln, Neb. in 1997.

ISU head coach Dan McCarney doesn’t want to see that happen again.

“Going into the locker room after a game that you’ve given up 70-some points, I don’t know that there’s ever been anything that’s more embarrassing for me,” he said. “Kids played as hard as they could, and gave you all they’ve got, and coaches coached, prepped and they worked and motivated, and then you just get completely blown out and humiliated.

“That’s no fun,” he said. “Frankly, that’s all we’ve known in the Iowa State-Nebraska matchup since we’ve been here.”

McCarney has been at Iowa State for eight years and still has yet to beat Nebraska or a ranked team.

ISU players and coaches are excited for the opportunity to get their first win over the Huskers since a 19-10 victory a decade ago.

“This is probably the biggest game that Iowa State’s played in my lifetime,” said ISU wide receiver Jack Whitver, who grew up as an ISU fan even before coming to the university.

“The Cyclone fans have been waiting for a game like this for a long time, and we’re just excited to play it.”

Iowa State is hoping they won’t have to rely solely on the arm of Heisman Trophy candidate Seneca Wallace.

Wallace carried the Cyclones on his back in a 38-31 loss to the Florida State Seminoles earlier this season and passed for a career-high 361 yards in Iowa State’s 36-31 victory over Iowa two weeks ago.

McCarney said to be successful against Nebraska, Iowa State is going to have to get its ground game going as well.

“We’ve averaged 76 yards a game rushing in the last two games, and that’s not what we’ve built this program on,” he said. “We [have] challenged everyone on that offense.”

The Cyclones are hoping to produce a more effective ground game, but they’re also aiming to stop Nebraska’s rushing attack.

The Huskers are averaging 255.5 rushing yards per game, top in the Big 12.

“When [a team] plays this type of offense, your linebackers better be lighting it up,” McCarney said. “They better be making a lot of plays.”

Nebraska is coming off a 40-7 loss at Penn State on Sept. 14, leading many former Husker players to question the heart of the traditionally strong powerhouse – and causing many to pick the Cyclones as favorites in the game.

Despite Nebraska’s lopsided loss two weeks ago, McCarney knows defeating the Huskers is going to be a challenge.

“There’s till 12 seniors on that team that played in the national championship game,” he said. “Their numbers are phenomenal from a depth standpoint, like they always have been and always will be at Nebraska.”

Nebraska quarterback Jammal Lord is one player McCarney is worried about. Lord is only averaging 82 passing yards per game this season, but has put up big numbers on the ground, averaging 91.2 rushing yards per game.

“He’s 220 pounds, and he looks all of that,” McCarney said. “He’s an excellent runner and very hard to tackle. There’s no question that he’s got a gun throwing the football.”

Despite starting the season strong, McCarney said his team has several things to work on, regardless of who his team is playing.

“We’ve got a lot of room to improve,” he said. “It’s not a negative atmosphere – we’re proud of what we’re doing and we’re proud to be 4-1 and in the top 20 in the country, but you’re only as good as the most recent game that you’ve played.”

– Daily staff writer Jeff Raasch contributed to this article.