Nebraska in familiar territory after win

The Huskers are ranked No. 23 after a short-lived absence from the polls.
Tuesday, September 2, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:07 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nebraska is back at the top of the Big 12 Conference football standings, and it won’t go anywhere for a while.

The Cornhuskers, also ranked again at No. 23, will reign at the top of the Big 12 for at least four weeks because they opened the season with a 17-7 win against Oklahoma State. Nebraska’s 1-0 conference record is assured of holding up, for there are no Big 12 games scheduled until Sept. 27 when Missouri plays Kansas.

Nebraska coach Frank Solich said starting the season with a conference opponent is strange, but was a great way to build poise in his young team.

“That win was very big for us,” Solich said. “It reinforces a lot of things in our players’ minds. We went into this with idea of believing in ourselves and the coaching staff, so for that to materialize the way you want it to is great.”

Coming off a 7-7 season, the Cornhuskers made some major changes to the coaching staff and game plan. Two assistants retired and three more were fired.

Nebraska started the season unranked, something unheard of for a program that a year ago was carrying streaks of 33 consecutive nine-win seasons, 41 straight winning seasons and 348 weeks in a row in the Associated Press rankings.

Sophomore cornerback Fabian Washington, who had 11 tackles in the opener, said the win against then-No. 24 Oklahoma State should send a message to the rest of the Big 12 and the nation that the Cornhuskers are back.

“This win gave our team a lot of confidence,” Washington said. “Winning that game as a first game and a conference game builds that for us. That means a lot to show the nation we are one of the best teams in the nation and you are going to have to come play hard when you play Nebraska.”

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