The idea was to make the sample size large enough that Nebraska fans could get an appreciation for when Husker football and its traveling army of fans used to roll into Big 12 towns for big games, eat their wings, drink their beer, puff out their chests, fill up their stands and generally pummel their ranked opponents into the AstroTurf.
So, I figured, let's go the last 20 road games against ranked teams. That'll get us there.
It did not get us there.
So I went 25 games. Nope, not really.
I had to go back to the Tom Osborne era, really, to find such dominance. And since we tend to wear out those Osborne glory years — nearly 20 years old now — I thought I'd just give it to you straight and true.
Since 1998, Nebraska is ... 5-23 against ranked teams on the road.
This includes, mind you, some fine Husker teams. The 1999 Husker team, for example, finished 0-1 against ranked road teams — the 24-20 loss to Texas. The day of one meeellion fumbles. The 2000 NU team lost its only two games of the season on the road — 31-14 at Oklahoma and 29-28 at Kansas State, the game where Wildcats made snow angels on the turf.
I told you this was tough.
So, anyway, the 28 games. These are Associated Press rankings at the time of the game. The wins are in bold.
Let's break those games down just a little bit.
Biggest margin of victory: 15, over Missouri in 2009. NU trailed 12-0 entering the fourth quarter.
Biggest margin of defeat: 37, to Kansas in 2007. KU edges 2007 Missouri (36) and 2002 Kansas State (36) for the crown.
Longest winning streak: 2. NU beat Missouri in 2009 and then Oklahoma State in 2010.
Longest losing streak: 8. Nebraska beat Notre Dame in 2000 and didn't beat a ranked team on the road for more than six years after that.
Best win: Probably the Notre Dame game. It was great theater, with Husker and Irish fans in nearly equal number inside the stadium, and the Irish had a very good team that season.
Worst loss: Probably a tie between '07 KU, '07 Mizzou, '02 KSU and 2014 Wisconsin. The Badgers could have piled it on a lot worse. Nebraska's defense basically checked out in the second half. Melvin Gordon ran for 406 but he could have run for, oh, 500. More than that. He sat out the final quarter, for goodness sakes.
Best opponent: The 2000 Oklahoma team won the national title. The 2004 team did not, but played for the crown, as did the 2008 OU squad. The 2012 Ohio State team went undefeated but did not qualify for a bowl because of Tattoogate. For my money, the '08 Sooner squad was the best.
Weakest opponent: The 2007 UT team was ripe to be beaten. The Horns finished 10-3 but won three games by three points each.
Loss that should have been a win: 2009 Virginia Tech and 2010 Texas A&M. Those are easy to pick; NU was the better team in both games. The VT loss was self-inflicted, while it felt like the referees plucked one away from Nebraska in College Station. Honorable mention to Kansas State 1998. Who knows what happens if the facemask is called.
Record by coach:
Bo Pelini: 3-9
Bill Callahan: 1-5
Frank Solich: 1-9
Quarterbacks who started those games:
Taylor Martinez: 6 (2-4 record)
Eric Crouch: 6 (1-5)
Joe Ganz: 3 (0-3)
Jammal Lord: 3 (0-3)
Zac Taylor: 2 (1-1)
Zac Lee: 2 (1-1)
Tommy Armstrong: 2 (0-2)
Sam Keller: 2 (0-2)
Bobby Newcombe: 1 (0-1)
Joe Dailey: 1 (0-1)
Record against teams:
Texas A&M: 1-2
Kansas State: 0-3
Penn State: 1-0
Notre Dame: 1-0
Oklahoma State: 1-0
Iowa State: 0-1
Michigan State: 0-1
Ohio State: 0-1
Texas Tech: 0-1
Virginia Tech: 0-1
A few takeaways:
>> Frank Solich had the best teams and the worst record. The last four road losses to ranked teams were by an average of 27 points.
>> Nebraska has played very few really tough road games since 2011. Just games against ranked teams on the road. NU lost them all, two by ludicrous margins, one by five because Michigan State nearly coughed up a 27-3 lead.
>> Defense has been a problem. Only four times did opponents score fewer than 20 points — 2011 Penn State, 2010 A&M, 2009 Missouri and 2009 Virginia Tech. Opponents went over 50 as many times, and 40 or above 11 times.