LINCOLN, NEB. - Sam Keller is getting another shot at Southern California and this time he’s out to finish the job.
Keller has been hesitant to reminisce about his nearmiss against the Trojans when he was at Arizona State. The emphasis, he said, should be on what lies ahead, not what happened two seasons ago.
But he does acknowledge one of the biggest steps in his maturation as a quarterback came on Oct. 1, 2005, when he led the Sun Devils to a big lead only to see the Trojans come back to win after he came undone in the second half.
Keller’s second chance comes Saturday when top-ranked USC visits Lincoln.
Keller has lived in Nebraska 13 months — long enough to know how important the next game is to fans in the land of Big Red.
USC is the first No. 1 team to come to Lincoln since 1978. Beating the Trojans would not only be the Huskers’ most significant victory under fourth-year coach Bill Callahan, but their biggest win since Tom Osborne was winning national titles. It’s a chance for the Huskers, whose No. 14 ranking is their highest since 2003, to reestablish themselves among the college football’s elite programs.
Keller said this game is not about him.
“No, I don’t look at it as a week of redemption at all,” Keller said. “I owe it to my team, my coaching staff and everybody to prepare for this game like I’ve never prepared for a game before.
“I’ve got to be a good quarterback this week.”
Keller was very good for a half against USC on a sunsplashed afternoon in Tempe two years ago, leading the Sun Devils to a 21-3 lead.
But he was intercepted four times in the second half, and USC rallied for a 38-28 win.