Nebraska rushed for more than 250 yards, held Oklahoma State to less than 200 total yards and forced five turnovers.
It was a fitting throwback performance as the Cornhuskers defeated the No. 24 Cowboys, 17-7, Saturday in front of some 800 former players.
New offensive coordinator Barney Cotton stayed true to Nebraska tradition in staying on the ground, and running back Josh Davis and quarterback Jammal Lord combined for 185 yards rushing.
New defensive coordinator Bo Pelini’s unit held the Cowboys, who averaged 411 yards a game last season, to 57 yards in the second half and 183 yards total.
Coming off a 7-7 season that was their worst in 41 years and prompted a shuffling of assistant coaches, no one was downplaying the importance of the victory.
“We showed the nation the Blackshirts are back,” cornerback Fabian Washington said. “We knew it in winter conditioning, in the spring and during fall practice. We just had to show the nation today.”
The victory was Nebraska’s 17th in a row in a season opener and ended its six-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
After having their 35-game unbeaten streak in the series ended last season in Stillwater, Okla., the Cornhuskers defeated the Cowboys for the 20th consecutive time in Lincoln.
“I thought it was a very big win for us,” Nebraska Coach Frank Solich said. “It was a game where we didn’t get an awful lot going offensively, although we started to pile up some yards and started to wear them down a little bit.”
Nebraska converted two Oklahoma State turnovers into third-quarter touchdowns to turn a 7-3 halftime deficit into a 17-7 lead.
Cowboy tailback Tatum Bell dropped the ball as he was putting a move on Demorrio Williams, and Barrett Ruud recovered along the sideline and ran it back 15 yards for a touchdown.
“I was worried about the scoop and kicking it out of bounds,” Ruud said. “I knew that if I could scoop it up, I could score.”
Davis fumbled deep in Cowboy territory on Nebraska’s next possession, but the Cornhuskers got the ball back a couple minutes later when Ryon Bingham recovered quarterback Josh Fields’ fumble at the Oklahoma State 13.
Judd Davies scored from two yards out to put the Huskers ahead, 17-7.
“Their defense had a nice plan against our offense,” Oklahoma State Coach Les Miles said. “But if you turn the ball over five times, it is difficult to win no matter who you play.”
Oklahoma State All-America receiver Rashaun Woods had only five catches for 47 yards, his lowest production in 15 games.