Comparing the different paths to 50 wins

2013-09-03T14:14:00Z 2013-09-03T19:48:03Z Comparing the different paths to 50 winsBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON JournalStar.com

Lost beneath the grumblings of a rough season-opening performance, Bo Pelini hit one of those mile markers for a head coach on Saturday night, picking up his 50th win.

It came in his 70th game as Nebraska's coach.

It got me wondering, without any intended point to make, how many games it has taken other recent Husker coaches to hit that mark, and how difficult the road was to get there.

So I went thumbing through the media guide this afternoon.

Obviously, all the coaches that are listed below took over Nebraska's head coaching position under varying circumstances, and I'll leave it to you to debate those circumstances and how much, or little, college football has changed from era to era.

* First off, a little more on Pelini's road to 50. He is 7-12 against ranked teams to date. Pelini started out 0-4 in this category, then went 7-4, but has lost his last four since the win at Penn State in 2011. Two of those wins were over teams that were ranked in the Top 10 when the Huskers played them -- No. 7 Missouri in 2010 and No. 9 Michigan State in 2011.

He has eight losses against unranked teams.

* Bob Devaney reached 50 wins in the year of 1967 in an amazing 58 games. Granted, he followed the milestone with two straight losses and an 11-10 stretch until putting together an amazing string of 32 straight games without a loss -- the only blemish in those 32 being a 21-21 tie at USC in 1970. 

Devaney's teams did not play many ranked teams on his way to 50 wins, but every one they did was ranked in the Top 10. He was 2-4 against those ranked teams, with the wins coming against No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 5 Auburn to end the 1963 season.

He had four losses against unranked teams en route to 50.

* Tom Osborne reached 50 wins in 66 games. Two of those 16 games that weren't wins were ties. He was 14-9 against ranked teams on his way there. (Fun fact: Osborne played seven ranked teams his first season, going 5-2).

Osborne had five victories over Top 10 teams during that time -- his career opener against No. 10 UCLA, over No. 8 Texas in the 1974 Cotton Bowl, over No. 9 Texas Tech in the 1976 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl -  a rather important win if you believe the tale and wins over No. 4 Alabama and No. 7 Colorado in 1977.

He had five losses and two ties against unranked teams during this time.

* Frank Solich reached the mark in 66 games also. He was off to a blistering 42-9 start until the 7-7 season in 2002 brought down his winning percentage. Solich was 11-12 against ranked teams during that stretch.

His four wins over Top 10 teams on his march to 50 include: No. 9 Washington in 1998, No. 5 Kansas State in 1999, No. 6 Tennessee in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl, No. 2 Oklahoma in 2001.

He had four losses against unranked teams in those 66 games.

* Bill Callahan never sniffed 50 wins, of course. He was 27-22 in four seasons. He was 4-9 against ranked teams. The highest rated team he defeated was No. 20 Michigan in the 2005 Alamo Bowl.

Callahan had 13 losses against unranked teams in his 49 games.

Just some numbers. Take them. Leave them. That's what the Husker history book told me.

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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Steven M. Sipple

Steven M. Sipple

Steven is the Husker sports columnist for the Lincoln Journal Star.

Brian Christopherson

Brian Christopherson

Brian is the Husker football beat writer for the Lincoln Journal Star.

Brian Rosenthal

Brian Rosenthal

Brian Rosenthal is the Husker men's basketball beat reporter for the Lincoln Journal star.

Brent C. Wagner

Brent C. Wagner

Brent is the Husker volleyball and women's basketball beat reporter for the Lincoln Journal Star.