|Callahan says he's treating USC game like any other|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 11 September 2007 10:38|
That's how Nebraska coach Bill Callahan characterizes Saturday's meeting with Southern California.
The fans have a different opinion about the matchup of programs that have combined for 16 national titles and 10 Heisman Trophies. Asking prices for pairs of tickets run into the thousands of dollars on Internet auction sites, and hotels have been sold out for months.
The buildup is reminiscent of Notre Dame's visit in 2001, when the Irish came to town for the first time since 1948.
The aura of USC is even greater right now. The Trojans' dominance is akin to Nebraska's a decade ago, when the Cornhuskers won 60 of 63 games and shared or won outright three national titles from 1993 to '97. The Trojans have won 60 of their last 66 since 2002 and shared or won two championships. Adding to the intrigue is that they are the first No. 1 team since Oklahoma in 1978 to visit Memorial Stadium.
Still, Callahan stands firm in his public position that this game is no more or no less significant than, say, next week's clash with Ball State.
``You don't get too high and don't get too low in terms of your approach,'' Callahan said Tuesday. ``It doesn't matter who you're playing. You focus on what you have to get done and accomplish. The opponent is the opponent. We have great respect for whoever comes in here.''
Told that the public might suspect he's blowing smoke, Callahan wouldn't budge.
``We're just trying to manage our football team and do what is in the best interest of our team and just focus on our preparation. The fans do understand that,'' he said. ``Anybody who has been in big-time games, they do have a good understanding of what it takes to prepare to play at an elite level.''
Try as he might to shield his players from the hype, they know what's at stake.
At No. 14, the Huskers (2-0) have their highest ranking since the middle of 2003, Frank Solich's last season as coach.
Callahan, who signed a five-year contract last week, is 4-6 against teams in the Top 25, 0-5 against the Top 10. Arguably his biggest win was in the 2005 Alamo Bowl against Michigan. His biggest at home was a double-overtime thriller over Iowa State two years ago.
A victory over the Trojans (1-0) would be a major breakthrough for the program - any program, for that matter.
``They're a modern-day dynasty,'' cornerback Cortney Grixby said. ``Nebraska owned the '90s. Since the millennium, they've been the team. To be the best, you've got to play the best.
``You want to make the most of your opportunities. You don't get them that much. This is a great opportunity to play the No. 1 team. We have to prepare and worry about us.''
The Trojans, who were off last week after a 38-10 win over Idaho on their opener, feature a Heisman Trophy front-runner in quarterback John David Booty, a deep stable of running backs and 10 returning starters on defense.
Offensive lineman Matt Slauson said it helps that the Huskers have already had one go-round with the Trojans, losing 28-10 to them in Los Angeles last year.
``They can come in and scare teams just because they're USC,'' Slauson said. ``That's only going to last so long, and then you realize, hey, they're just another team. They aren't superhuman. They're like us. Now that we already know that, we can come out from the beginning knowing that.''
Callahan said there are plenty of areas that need polish after last week's 20-17 road win at Wake Forest.
The Huskers rushed for only 115 yards, continued to struggled with dropped passes and got inconsistent play from quarterback Sam Keller. A turnover put Wake Forest in position to score the tying or go-ahead points in the middle of the fourth quarter, but Zackary Bowman's interception in the end zone preserved the Huskers' 3-point lead.
``It was a game we were lucky enough to get out of with a win,'' Slauson said. ``We can learn from that game.''