LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -With the 35-point loss to Missouri the latest in a string of disappointing performances this season, coach Bill Callahan insists he feels Nebraska fans' pain.
``It's important to understand that no one - no one - wants to win more than I do,'' Callahan said Tuesday before taking questions at his weekly news conference. ``It's really important to understand that we as a staff, as a program, as a team, hate to lose. It's important to know that it destroys us emotionally to go through what we did the last week.''
He said he wanted the Big Red faithful to know that he cares deeply about the program and its history, even though he had no ties to Nebraska until his hiring four years ago.
He said he, his assistants and the players feel an obligation to the state.
``The fans expect so much from us, and we felt that we let them down, and we want our fans to understand what we're going through,'' he said. ``I just want that to be said so people understand there is passion in this program. There is a belief in what this program stands for. That's why I came here. I love this place. I love our team. I love the opportunity to coach here.''
As he has almost weekly, Callahan expressed confidence in his assistants. He said there will be no in-season changes made on the staff. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove has been a frequent target of critical fans.
``All of a sudden, when you're having struggles, you don't start firing people left and right,'' Callahan said. ``These guys are pros. They've had tremendous success in their careers. There are going to be times in each and every one's career where you go through a period where you don't have the success you want to have. You have to continually fight through it.
``They're darned good coaches. They're coaches that other people would like to have. I can promise you that.''
The Huskers (4-2, 1-1 Big 12) play Oklahoma State (3-3, 1-1) on homecoming Saturday. Players and coaches from the 1997 team that won a share of the national championship will be honored.
That's a distant memory to fans who still worship coach Tom Osborne and the championships he brought home in his final years. Many have been slow to accept Callahan, who was hired after a protracted search that followed Frank Solich's firing after a 9-3 regular season in 2003.
Upon his arrival, Callahan talked about ``changing the culture'' of Nebraska football. Callahan dumped the triple-option in favor of the West Coast offense. No one with ties to Osborne or Solich remains on the football coaching or support staff.
With a bevy of high-rated recruits, there was hope that 2007 would be the season when Nebraska re-emerged on the national scene. But many of those touted young players have played limited roles. Though the Huskers went unbeaten against a depleted Big 12 North last year, Callahan has won only three of 11 games against Top 25 opponents.
Nebraska is 99th nationally in defense (442 ypg) and 75th in scoring defense (29 ppg). Two of the last three opponents have gained more than 600 yards, and the Huskers have given up 40 points or more in three games for the first time since 1943.
Saturday's 41-6 loss at Missouri put the Huskers on pace to have their worst defense since the 1948 squad that went 2-8 under George ``Potsy'' Clark.
Callahan is still optimistic.
``My hope is always to keep dreams alive. That hope energizes and doubt destroys,'' he said. ``I'm going to continue to be positive and upbeat and do the best I can. All I am concerned about is our football team and our players and our coaching staff. All I can do is control that aspect and then put the best product we possibly can on the field and let it roll.''

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