Fan’s plea: ‘Help us!’

Huskers smarting from humbling setback

A Nebraska football fan leaned over a railing in the southeast corner of Memorial Stadium after spotting interim athletic director Tom Osborne outside the Cornhuskers’ locker room.

“Hey, Tom, thanks for coming back,” the fan bellowed at the ex-NU coaching legend, who took over for embattled AD Steve Pederson on Oct. 17.

“Help us!” the fan implored.

There’s nothing Osborne could do Saturday to ease the pain of the Husker fan, who endured the most humbling loss in school history – a 76-39 pasting to Kansas. No NU team had ever allowed more points . The previous high was 70 in a 60-point loss to Texas Tech on Oct. 9, 2004, in Lubbock, Texas.

Osborne figures to appease the Husker nation before long, when he is expected to give the boot to coach Bill Callahan, whose 4-6 Huskers finish with a home game against Kansas State and contest at Colorado.

“There are really no words to explain this loss,” Callahan said. “All you can do is go back, try to rally these kids and get a win in the last home game for these kids.”

The fourth-year coach, whose defense was torched by Todd Reesing, who converted six touchdown strikes (Tech also hit for six in 2004), kept his composure throughout his 10-minute postgame interview session, even when asked if his squad “was performing at a level” that would allow him to keep his job.

NU has lost five in a row for the first time since 1958.

“We’re just going to keep working and coaching and motivating, preparing these kids to play to the best of their ability,” Callahan said. “That’s our job. That’s what we try to do every day, help these players and help them through this. This is tough, not only on the coaches, but more importantly it’s much tougher on the players than anything.”

He said his team was “excited” about meeting the No. 8 team in the country, citing the fact the Huskers scored first on a three-yard run by quarterback Joe Ganz and trailed just 21-14 after one quarter.

“We just could not keep the pace up against their offense today,” Callahan said. “Give them credit. They had four consecutive scores when the game was tight and pulled away.”

Actually, KU scored TDs on 10 straight possessions against the once-proud Blackshirt defense.

The score was remarkably similar to KU’s 92-39 pasting of the Huskers last season at Allen Fieldhouse, leading somebody to ask Callahan if the Jayhawks ran up the score.

“No, not at all, gosh, no,” he said. “Mark (Mangino, KU coach) did a great job today. I think we put them in position to score when we turned the ball over on a short field. They seemed to be on a short field most of the time because of us turning it over and their ability to return the ball on kick returns.”

Callahan was asked if he could believe the final tally.

“No, I can’t. That’s the disturbing aspect of the game,” he said. “We had turnovers that led to the huge separation in the third and fourth quarter.”

In making his first start, Ganz completed 25 of 50 passes for 405 yards with four interceptions. He hit Maurice Purify on TD strikes of 19, 14 and eight yards. Purify finished with seven catches for 158 yards.

“I could have had five touchdowns and 200 yards and not be happy. We didn’t win,” Purify said.

Linebacker Tyler Wortman said: “It (stinks). It’s frustrating, but you can’t dwell on it. They played well. Their quarterback was pretty good. He was able to scramble and complete some big passes.”

Reesing hit 30 of 41 passes for 354 yards and the six scores.

Cornerback Andre Jones sounded like a guy ready to get on the team bus and get out of town.

“It’s bad, just bad,” he said of the loss. “I love my teammates. All we can do is come back from this next week. We’ve got two games left. We can still make a bowl game.”