The Huskers suffered their worst home loss in almost 50 years, falling behind 38-0 by halftime and losing to Oklahoma State 45-14 Saturday afternoon in Lincoln.
Tom Osborne and the rest of the undefeated 1997 team that won a share of the national championship were on hand for Homecoming. What they saw was Nebraska on the wrong end of the largest rout at home since Missouri's 31-0 shutout in 1958.
This embarrassment came after a 41-6 loss at Missouri last week.
The Cowboys (4-3, 2-1 Big 12), who had lost 20 straight games in Lincoln since 1960, scored on their first six possessions while getting out to a 38-0 halftime lead. That marked a stretch of six quarters that had seen Nebraska outscored 79-6.
Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said he was disappointed for his players and the fans. "They're just gutted," he said.
Callahan, who signed a five-year contract last month, said he wasn't concerned about his job security.
Just last season, Nebraska played in the Big 12 title game, but the Huskers (4-3, 1-2 Big 12) have played uninspired football all season while becoming the first team in the program's 118-year history to surrender 40 points four times in the same season.
"I'm just going to do the best I can," said Callahan, 26-18 in four seasons. "Whatever happens happens. I don't think you can coach in fear or coach like you're scared of something. I've never coached like that in my life. I've been in this business for 30 years. I sure as hell ain't going to start right now."
Dantrell Savage rushed for a career-high 212 yards and a touchdown, Julius Crosslin scored twice and Zac Robinson ran and passed for touchdowns.
Their defense forced four punts and two turnovers in the first half and held Nebraska on fourth down at the OSU 10.
"We played perfect football in the first half," said OSU linebacker Rodrick Johnson. "We did exactly what the coaches asked us to do, and in the second half we tried to continue."
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy knows all about the Cowboys' long stretch of futility in Lincoln, having quarterbacked them from 1986-89 in the days of the old Big Eight.
"It means a lot," Gundy said. "I'm excited for the players because they're the ones who put in the effort and hard work. We had a shot up here in 1988 and we didn't play well. We had another shot up here and we turned the ball over five times."
It was Oklahoma State's second-most lopsided Big 12 win, topped only by a 66-24 victory over Baylor last year.
The Cowboys averaged 8.5 yards a play in the first half, then scaled back their offense after the game was safely in hand. They finished with 551 yards (their largest output in 42 all-time games against the Huskers) to Nebraska's 335.
Sam Keller passed for Nebraska's touchdowns, a 13-yarder to J.B. Phillips and a one-yarder to Thomas Lawson. Nebraska freshman Quentin Castille rushed for 102 yards. Keller was 10-of-18 for 129 yards with two interceptions.
Robinson completed 12-of-19 passes for 234 yards with Adarius Bowman catching six for 100.
Osborne, who coached Nebraska to three national titles, tried to rally the Huskers in a speech to the team Friday. He trotted onto the field with his '97 team before the game and after a video tribute, the '97 Huskers waited on the sideline to greet the '07 players as they ran out of the tunnel.
Any inspiration faded quickly. Oklahoma State was up 17-0 before Nebraska picked up a first down.
Keller said Osborne spoke of the makeup of Nebraska's greatest teams, about their moxie and guts and how they didn't accept losing. Keller says he and his teammates are striving to be like that.
Before Friday, Osborne said he had never been invited to talk to a Callahan team. After Saturday's game, Osborne doesn't know if he'll be invited back. "I must have done a poor job."
"I feel bad for the players and coaches," said Osborne. "I'm sorry it didn't work out better today."
"I really thought coming into this contest we were going to play more competitively, but that wasn't he case," said Callahan.
Crosslin finished the Cowboys' first series with a one-yard run, Jason Ricks kicked a 21-yard field goal and Seth Newton caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Robinson with 4:06 left in the first quarter.
"Really, our coaches did such a good job this week preparing us for every situation we could be in," said Robinson. "They just told us it was not any different than practice. We went out and they did a good job of putting us in those situations."
Fans in the NCAA-record 287th consecutive sellout crowd began filing out of the stadium in the middle of the second quarter, after OSU went up 31-0.
The trickle of fans heading to the exits became a stream after Keller was intercepted on Nebraska's next series.
Nebraska, held without a touchdown for seven quarters, broke through on the first play of the fourth when Keller found tight end J.B. Phillips on a crossing pattern in the end zone.
By then, there was no reason to get excited about Nebraska. "To see that many points, especially here and in this type of environment...," Robinson said. "We weren't really worried about what the score was, but it was definitely big to jump on them early."
Nebraska's Worst Home Losses
61-7 Minnesota, Oct. 6, 1945
48-0 Oklahoma, Oct. 22, 1949
54-13 Indiana, Oct. 9, 1943
41-0 Oklahoma, Nov. 19, 1955
44-13 Notre Dame, Oct. 16, 1948
31-0 Missouri, Nov. 1, 1958
37-6 Carlisle, Dec. 2, 1908
45-14 Oklahoma St., Oct. 13, 2007
38-9 Kansas State, Nov. 15, 2003
33-6 Missouri, Nov. 20, 1948
27-0 Oklahoma, Nov. 24, 1951
27-0 Texas A&M, Oct. 8, 1955
27-0 Colorado, Nov. 16, 1957