LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -Joe Ganz is in a perfect situation during this imperfect Nebraska season.
The three-year backup quarterback will make his first start Saturday for a team that has lost four straight games and is at its lowest point since 1961.
If Ganz leads the Cornhuskers to an upset of unbeaten, eighth-ranked Kansas, he's a hero.
If the 19-point underdogs lose, well, it's just more of the same for the Huskers (4-5, 1-4 Big 12).
``Your team is kind of in a shambles, so with Joe going in there, the only way he can go is up, no matter what he does,'' receiver Nate Swift said Tuesday.
Ganz, who takes over for the injured Sam Keller, doesn't see it quite the same way.
``I want to win and I'll accept nothing less,'' he said. ``I hate to lose as much as the next person. There is no pressure taken off.''
Fact is, there is lots of pressure, Ganz said. His goal is to get the Huskers eligible for a bowl. Nebraska must win two games to secure the necessary .500 record, but probably needs to finish 7-5 for an invitation.
Ganz has suited up for 35 games since arriving at Nebraska from Palos Heights, Ill., in 2004. He has appeared in only eight, mostly in mop-up.
Asked how it felt to get his first start, he was almost giddy.
``It's awesome,'' he said.
He quickly corrected himself.
``I mean, it's bittersweet because you don't want it to come through an injury,'' he said. ``You don't want Sam to get hurt. But that's the way it happened. I can't control it. All I can do is be ready for my team and hopefully win these next three games.''
Coach Bill Callahan said he likes Ganz's makeup.
``He's a tough guy from Chicago,'' Callahan said. ``He's not going to let a lot of things rattle him.''
As his friend and former roommate, Swift has seen Ganz go through the trials of being a career No. 2.
Ganz backed up Zac Taylor in 2005-06 and figured he was the heir apparent for this season. Then Keller transferred from Arizona State, and Ganz lost the competition to him in preseason practice.
``That was a little tough on him, but he stuck around,'' Swift said. ``Give him credit for that. He stuck through all the hard times, and now he's going to get his shot.''
Ganz said he never considered transferring.
``I'm not going to say, 'Oh, I'm going to transfer because it's unfair and I should be starting,''' he said. ``I'm going to do whatever the coach asks of me.''
After seeing limited action in wins over Nevada and Iowa State, Ganz got the call in the final three minutes after Keller went down with a shoulder injury against Texas last Saturday. He threw to Maurice Purify for a touchdown and completed a 2-point pass to Swift to pull the Huskers to 28-25.
``He's been waiting for his chance to do something like that,'' Swift said.
Now Ganz hopes to keep the momentum going against the Jayhawks.
``What better way to have your first start, against Kansas and the great defense they have and on the road against the No. 8 team in the country?'' he said. ``It's a great challenge for me, and I'm glad it's against Kansas.''
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