GAME 2: McNEESE STATE at NEBRASKA
SEPT. 6, 2014 | MEMORIAL STADIUM
LINCOLN, NEB. | 11 a.m. (CT)
TV - ESPNU
RADIO - Husker Sports Network
SATELLITE RADIO - Sirius Channel 119, XM 203
INTERNET RADIO - Huskers.com
Record: 1-0, 0-0
Rankings: Coaches-18; AP-19
Last Game: def. Florida Atlantic, 55-7
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 59-24/7th year
vs. MSU, 0-0
Record: 0-0, 0-0
Rankings: Coaches-No. 9, FCS
Last Game: Season Opener
Coach: Matt Viator
Career/MSU Record: 62-27/9th Season
vs. NU: 0-0
Nebraska stays at home for week two of the 2014 season, taking on the McNeese State Cowboys on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Game time in Lincoln is set for 11 a.m. CDT, with the contest televised nationally on ESPNU.
The Huskers opened the 2014 season with an impressive 55-7 win over Florida Atlantic. The Husker offense had a record-setting afternoon against the Owls, while the defense only allowed FAU points on the Owls’ opening drive.
Nebraska racked up 784 yards of total offense to set a Big Ten modern era record and the most total offensive yards by a Husker team since 1991. The NU rushing attack was in full force, rolling up 498 yards on the ground, the most by Nebraska since 2001. Heisman candidate Ameer Abdullah led the way with a career-high 232 yards on 21 carries.
On Saturday against McNeese State, the Huskers will be looking to improve to 2-0 on the season for the sixth time in seven seasons under Head Coach Bo Pelini.
Saturday’s matchup will mark McNeese State’s season opener. The Cowboys posted a 10-3 record last season and advanced to the FCS playoffs. McNeese State returns 16 starters from that team and was ranked ninth in the FCS preseason coaches poll. The Cowboys have defeated an FBS opponent each of the past two years, knocking off Middle Tennessee State in 2012 and South Florida in 2013.
Nebraska won the only previous meeting with McNeese State, posting a 38-14 victory over the Cowboys in 2002 at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska quarterback Jammal Lord set then-Nebraska records for total offense (369 yards) and rushing yards by a quarterback (218 yards) in the victory.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 59-24 record (.711) in his seventh season as head coach. He has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first six seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne in accomplishing that feat at Nebraska. His 59 wins trail only Osborne and Devaney on the NU wins list. Pelini joins Alabama’s Nick Saban as the only head coaches in the nation to win nine or more games each of the past six seasons.
McNeese State: Matt Viator (McNeese State, ‘85) is in his ninth season as the head coach at his alma mater. Viator has guided the Cowboy program to a 62-27 record in his first eight seasons, and has had a winning record every season. Viator is a three-time finalist for FCS National Coach of the Year and guided McNeese State to the FCS playoffs in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
Nebraska is 866-357-40 all-time, one of just eight schools with 800 all-time victories
- Nebraska has won five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).
- The Cornhuskers have won 43 conference championships.
- NU’s 50 all-time bowl appearances rank third nationally.
- Since 1970, NU has 432 wins, 24 more than any other school.
- Nebraska’s 107 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation.
- The Huskers have 110 All-Americans in school history.
Scouting McNeese State
McNeese State opens its 2014 season today against Nebraska. The Cowboys finished 10-3 in 2013, posting the program’s second 10-win regular season while making an appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs. MSU returns 16 starters from last season.
McNeese State boasted one of the top offenses in the FCS last season, ranking sixth nationally in scoring (40.0 points per game), 17th in total offense (450.9 yards per game), 24th in rushing (208.9 yards per game) and 31st in passing (242.0 yards per game). The Cowboys will need players to step up to repeat those numers in 2014, as MSU loses its leading rusher, passer and receiver from last fall.
The Cowboys do return two of their three leading rushers from 2013 and three of their five leading receivers.
McNeese State was not as proficient on defense as it was on offense in 2013. The Cowboys allowed an average of 28.5 points per game and 416.1 yards per game last fall. MSU ranked 97th in the FCS by allowing an average of 242.9 yards per game, and the Cowboys surrendered 173.2 rushing yards per contest.
MSU returns its leading tackler from last season in defensive back Aaron Sam, who totaled 84 tackles. Linebacker Bo Brown also returns after producing 75 tackles and team-high totals of 12 tackles-for-loss and 4.0 sacks in 2013. Despite Sam and Brown returning, McNeese State must still replace three of its five leading tacklers from last fall.
Nebraska defeated McNeese State, 38-14, on Oct. 12, 2002, in the only meetings between the programs. Husker quarterback Jammal Lord enjoyed a record-setting day against the Cowboys. Lord rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 12-of-18 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown. His 218 rushing yards were a Nebraska quarterback record, as were his 369 yards of total offense.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his seventh season as Nebraska’s head coach and owns a 59-24 record with the Huskers. Pelini has won or shared four divisional titles in his first six seasons as head coach, including the 2012 Big Ten Legends Division crown. He guided NU to three straight Big 12 North Division crowns from 2008 to 2010, becoming the first coach in the history of the Big 12 to win at least a share of a division title in each of his first three years.
He has guided Nebraska to at least nine wins each of his six seasons, and three 10-win seasons. Pelini is third on the Nebraska career victories list, trailing only Tom Osborne and Bob Devaney.
Pelini took charge of the Huskers after a highly successful five-year run as a collegiate defensive coordinator, including orchestrating NU’s defensive efforts in 2003. Pelini picked up his first college head coaching victory as NU’s interim coach in the 2003 Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.
Following his one season at Nebraska, Pelini served as the co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 2004, helping the Sooners to the Big 12 title and BCS title game. He then followed with three seasons as the defensive coordinator at LSU. With the Tigers, Pelini led three consecutive defenses to No. 3 national rankings in total defense. He culminated his time in Baton Rouge by helping the Tigers to the 2007 national championship.
In addition to his five seasons as an assistant at the collegiate level, Pelini coached in the NFL for nine seasons, serving three years each with the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. Pelini was a team captain and four-year letterman as a safety at Ohio State from 1987 to 1990.
McNeese State Head Coach Matt Viator
One of the most successful coaches in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Matt Viator begins his ninth season at McNeese State. Viator owns a 62-27 record with the Cowboys, including a 10-3 mark in 2013. Viator led McNeese State to a 53-21 victory over South Florida last fall. The win was the Cowboys’ first-even win over a BCS Conference opponent, while the 53 points and 32-point margin of victory were both NCAA records for an FCS school against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
Viator has never had a losing season, and he has led the Cowboys to three Southland Conference titles and four FCS playoff appearances. A McNeese State alumnus, Viator is a three-time nominee for Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year.
Before becoming MSU’s head coach, Viator served as an assistant for seven seasons from 1999 to 2005. During that time, the Cowboys won three conference titles and advanced to the FCS playoffs four times, including a runner-up finish in 2002. Before becoming a collegiate coach, Viator served as a high school head coach in Louisiana. He coached at Sulphur High School from 1995 to 1998, Jennings High School from 1991 to 1994 and Vinton High School from 1989 to 1990. His first coaching stint was an assistant coach at Sam Houston High School from 1986 to 1988.
Nebraska Extends Season-Opening Win Streak
Nebraska won its season opener for the 29th straight year with a dominant 55-7 victory over Florida Atlantic. The victory was NU’s 29th consecutive season-opening win, five better than Florida’s 24 straight wins in a season opener.
Nebraska has scored at least 37 points in each of its seven season openers under Coach Bo Pelini, and has scored 40 or more points in 21 of the past 29 seasons. During the win streak, NU has limited opponents to 14 points or less 19 times and has won 28 of the 29 games by nine points or more.
Huskers Bidding for Seventh Straight Nine-Win Season
Nebraska posted a 9-4 record in 2013, capped by a victory over Georgia in the Gator Bowl. The nine-win season in 2013 was Nebraska’s sixth straight under Head Coach Bo Pelini’s leadership and put Nebraska in elite company.
» Nebraska is one of three schools that has won at least nine games each of the past six seasons, joining Alabama and Oregon.
» Pelini has guided Nebraska to 10-win seasons in three of his six seasons.
» The six straight years with at least nine wins marks the first time NU has accomplished that since its NCAA record streak of 33 straight nine-win seasons from 1969 to 2001.
» Nebraska has 48 nine-win seasons in school history, including 40 since 1969. The Huskers’ 27 all-time 10-win seasons are third-most in college football history.
Nebraska Set to Take on FCS Foe
The matchup with McNeese State will mark the fifth straight season Nebraska has faced a Football Championship Subdivison foe. The Huskers defeated South Dakota State, 17-3, in 2010, and defeated the Jackrabbits 59-20 in 2013. Nebraska also beat Chattanooga, 40-7, in 2011, and defeated Idaho State, 73-7 in 2012.
Overall, Nebraska has taken on 10 FCS foes (at game time) since 1992, defeating each of the opponents by an average score of 48.8-10.3. Included in that 10-0 record is a 38-14 win over McNeese State in 2002. Nebraska does not have an FCS opponent on its future schedules following Saturday’s matchup with McNeese State.
Abdullah Looks to Add to His Husker Legacy
Senior I-back Ameer Abdullah quickly exhibited why he is considered a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker Award in 2014. Abdullah opened the season with a career day, rushing 21 times for a career-high 232 yards and a touchdown in a 55-7 win over Florida Atlantic. His play earned him Big Ten Offensive Player-of-the-Week honors for the second time in his career.
Abdullah entered the year as the active career leader in the FBS ranks in all-purpose yards, while ranking third in career rushing yards. His Big Ten-leading 1,690 rushing yards in 2013 were the most for any returning player in the FBS ranks.
Abdullah’s outburst against Florida Atlantic could provide the spark for a 2014 season that could leave the Homewood, Ala., native in rare company in Nebraska history.
His 232 yards rushing against the Owls ranked as the 15th-best rushing effort in school history, and bettered his previous career best of 225 yards against Illinois in 2013. The outing marked his 18th career 100-yard rushing game, the third-most in Nebraska history.
The rushing effort against FAU continued Abdullah’s assault on Nebraska’s career charts.
- Abdullah became the eighth player in Nebraska history to top 3,000 career rushing yards and the third NU I-back to join that group since 2010. Against FAU, Abdullah increased his career rushing total to 3,209 yards to move into the No. 6 spot on the Husker career rushing list, passing Ken Clark (3,037 yards) and Calvin Jones (3,153 yards). Abdullah is just 120 rushing yards from the top five on the NU career list. He would need 1,572 yards the remainder of the year to surpass Rozier’s school-record total of 4,780 yards.
- Abdullah has topped 1,000 yards on the ground each of the past two seasons, and is one of only nine players in Nebraska history with a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons. This fall, Abdullah will attempt to become the first player in Husker history with three 1,000-yard seasons.
- Abdullah’s 1,690 yards in 2013 were fourth on the NU single-season rushing list. The rushing yardage total was the highest by a Nebraska player since 1997.
- Abdullah was the first Husker to reach 1,000 rushing yards in eight or fewer games since Ahman Green in 1997.
- Abdullah rushed for 100 or more yards in 11 of 13 games in 2013, including a season-high 225 yards against Illinois. His 11 100-yard games tied the school record, also held by Rozier, Green and Lawrence Phillips. Abdullah rushed for 100 yards in eight straight games last season, tying the fourth-longest streak in school history.
- Abdullah has 18 career 100-yard rushing efforts, passing Eric Crouch (17) against FAU for the third-most in school history. The 18 100-yard games, trails only Rozier (26) and Green (20) on the NU career list.
- In addition to his running skills, Abdullah is a receiving threat out of the backfield. He had 26 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns in 2013 and has 52 career receptions. He had one catch for nine yards in the opener against FAU.
- Abdullah had 1,999 all-purpose yards in 2013, the No. 3 single-season total in school history. With 241 all-purpose yards against Florida Atlantic, Abdullah increased his career all-purpose yardage total to 5,155 yards. He joined Heisman winners Johnny Rodgers and Mike Rozier as the only players to top 5,000 career all-purpose yards and is 431 all-purpose yards from the top spot on the NU career list.
- Abdullah has scored a total of 27 touchdowns during his Nebraska career, and has reached the end zone four different ways. He has 20 career rushing touchdowns, including nine in 2013, four receiving touchdowns, as well as a punt return touchdown and a touchdown on a kickoff return.
Offense Rolls to Record Numbers Against Florida Atlantic
Nebraska’s offensive output against Florida Atlantic sent media and statisticians thumbing through the record books. Nebraska’s 784 total offensive yards ranked as the fifth-highest total in school history and the most by a Husker team since 787 yards in the 1991 season opener against Utah State.
Despite ranking fifth on the NU career total offense list, Nebraska’s 784-yard output ranked as the most total offensive yards by a Big Ten team in conference history, bettering the previous record of 763 yards by Purdue against Indiana in 2004.
The impressive offensive performance left Nebraska and several Huskers ranked among the national leaders after the season’s opening weekend.
- Nebraska ranks second nationally in total offense, as the 784 yards trailed only Arizona’s 787 yards against UNLV.
- The 784 yards of total offense were the second-most in a season opener against an FBS opponent over the past seven years. Only Arizona’s output last weekend topped the Huskers’ offensive explosion.
- Nebraska’s 498 rushing yards also rank second, trailing only Air Force’s 539 yards.
- Nebraska’s 35 first downs were the sixth-highest total nationally, while NU converted 8-of-12 third-down conversions to rank in a tie for ninth nationally in that category.
- The Huskers rank 11th nationally in scoring at 55.0 points per game. On defense, NU ranks ninth nationally in scoring defense after holding FAU to seven points.
- Ameer Abdullah’s 232 yards were the fifth-most rushing yards in the country, while his 241 all-purpose yards ranked sixth.
Click on the "Game Notes" link in the related links section at the top of this page for more notes on this weekend's game.