On Sept. 8, 2001, No. 5 Nebraska beat No. 17 Notre Dame 27-10 to move to 3-0 and continue a path that led to a Rose Bowl berth.
Since then — 15 long years — Nebraska hasn't defeated a ranked, nonconference opponent in the regular season. An opportunity will come when No. 22 Oregon visits Memorial Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Huskers have faced 18 Power Five opponents (including BYU, an independent) in nonconference play since 2001, coming out with an even 9-9 mark. Of those 18 games, four were against ranked teams. The Huskers lost each: 41-21 to No. 16 UCLA at home in 2013, 16-15 to No. 13 Virginia Tech on the road in 2009, 49-31 to No. 1 USC in 2007 at Memorial Stadium and 28-10 to the No. 4 Trojans at the L.A. Coliseum in 2006.
The Huskers were also ranked in all four of those games. In fact, Saturday will be the first time since 1977 that an unranked Husker team will play a ranked nonconference opponent in the regular season.
In that 1977 game, Nebraska beat No. 4 Alabama 31-24 a day after the Huskers were apparently inspired by watching a new hit movie that was drawing rave reviews — "Star Wars."
Nebraska coach Mike Riley is no stranger to toppling ranked opponents, though. In 16 seasons, Riley has beaten 15 ranked teams, including Oregon twice. And after beating then-No. 6 Michigan State 39-38 last year, he added his sixth career upset of a top 10 team.
Overall, Nebraska is 16-35 against ranked opponents since the start of 2001.
>> The Huskers are significantly better at home against ranked teams: 9-9 in Memorial Stadium, 7-26 away from Memorial Stadium.
>> Nebraska is 3-19 against the Top 10 in that span.
>> Since joining the Big Ten, Nebraska is 5-11 against ranked teams (4-7 in conference).
>> The Huskers are 3-8 against ranked teams on a neutral field, including 3-5 in bowl games and 0-3 in conference championships.
>> The highest-ranked team Nebraska beat during that span was No. 2 Oklahoma in 2001, when Eric Crouch caught a 63-yard touchdown pass to secure a 20-10 victory that ended the Sooners' 20-game winning streak.
So, that's a decent number of stats to digest. Keep in mind being labeled "unranked" can apply to a wide swath of teams. After all, Oregon may be ranked 22nd in the AP poll, but unranked Nebraska is receiving votes and is only 11 spots behind at No. 33. That matchup is a lot different than if No. 1 Alabama were to face unranked Northwestern, which has lost to Western Michigan and Illinois State and isn't even on the minds of poll voters at this point.