Game 3: Nebraska vs. Washington
Sept. 17, 2011 | Memorial Stadium
Lincoln, Neb. | 2:30 p.m.
Radio: Husker Sports Network (radio affiliates)
Capacity: 81,091 (314th Consecutive Sellout)
Series Record: Series tied 4-4-1
In Lincoln: Series tied, 1-1-1
Last Meeting: Washington 19, Nebraska 7 (2010 Holiday Bowl)
Rankings: Coaches-10; AP-10
Last Game: def. Fresno State, 42-29
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 32-12/4th year
vs. UW: 1-1
Rankings: Not ranked
Last Game: def. Hawaii, 40-32
Coach: Steve Sarkisian
Career/UW Record: 14-13/3rd year
vs. NU: 1-1
Nebraska completes a three-game homestand to open the season on Saturday afternoon, when the Huskers play host to Washington at Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised by ABC, with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. The contest can be seen on ESPN in areas not carrying the game on the local ABC affiliate.
The Huskers enter the game with a 2-0 record after a 42-29 victory over Fresno State last Saturday in Lincoln. Nebraska trailed 20-14 early in the second half, but rallied with an explosive offensive and special teams effort, scoring four touchdowns in the game's final 23 minutes. The Huskers' 2-0 start leaves them ranked 10th in both major national polls entering the matchup with Washington.
Washington will bring a 2-0 record to Lincoln following a 40-32 victory over Hawaii last Saturday afternoon in Seattle. The Huskies opened the year with a 30-27 victory over defending FCS national champion Eastern Washington a week earlier. Washington is receiving votes in both national polls this week following its 2-0 start.
The meeting between the two schools is the third in the last 12 months, after the Huskers won a regular-season matchup at Washington last season, and the Huskies defeated Nebraska in the 2010 Holiday Bowl.
Saturday's meeting will be the 10th all-time meeting between the two schools with the series tied 4-4-1. The series in Lincoln is also tied at 1-1-1, most recently a 55-7 Nebraska victory in September of 1998. Nebraska has entered the last six regular-season matchups between the schools ranked in the top 12 nationally.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, '90) owns a 32-12 record in his fourth season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first three seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat. Pelini has guided Nebraska to a conference championship game the past two seasons and to at least a share of the Big 12 divisional crown his first three seasons as head coach.
Washington: Steve Sarkisian (BYU, '97) owns a 14-13 record in his third season as Washington's head coach. He guided UW to its first bowl game since 2002 last season when Washington defeated Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Prior to being named Washington head coach, Sarkisian served as offensive coordinator for USC.
Nebraska is 839-345-40 all-time, one of just eight schools with 800 all-time victories w Nebraska has won five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997). * The Cornhuskers have won 43 conference championships. * Nebraska's 47 all-time bowl appearances rank fifth nationally. * Since 1970, Nebraska has 405 wins, 24 more than any other school. * Nebraska's 99 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation. * The Huskers have had 107 All-Americans in school history.
Noting Game 2...Nebraska 42, Fresno State 29
*-Nebraska's win marked the Huskers' eighth consecutive non-conference home win and NU's 22nd straight vicotry against a WAC opponent. The Huskers are 23-1 all-time against the WAC. It also marks the seventh straight season NU has started the season 2-0.
*-Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, marking his seventh career 100-yard rushing game. Martinez's seven 100-yard rushing games are the third-most ever for a Nebraska quarterback, trailing only Eric Crouch (18) and Jammal Lord (8).
*-Martinez's 385 yards of total offense (166 rush, 219 pass) ranked eighth in school history and marked his second-highest career total, trailing only his 435-yard performance last season at Oklahoma State (112 rush, 323 pass).
*-Martinez had a 57-yard run in the first quarter, a 37-yard run in the second quarter and a 46-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, giving him five runs of at least 30 yards this season. Martinez had 10 30-plus yard runs last season, giving him 15 in 15 career games.
*-Martinez had touchdown runs of 1 and 46 yards, following his three-touchdown effort on opening weekend. Martinez has six career multiple rushing touchdown games, including four games with at least three touchdowns.
*-Martinez threw for 219 yards and a touchdown, giving him seven career games with 100 rushing and 100 passing yards. Martinez's 219 passing yards were the second-highest total of his career, trailing only his career-high 323 passing yards at Oklahoma State last season. Martinez has the only two games in Nebraska history with 200 passing and 100 rushing yards.
*-Freshman Ameer Abdullah had five kickoff returns for 211 yards, establishing a Nebraska single-game record. The previous record was 186 yards by Josh Davis on seven returns at Kansas State in 2002. Abdullah had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and a 38-yard kick return earlier in the game. The 100-yard return for a touchdown marked the Huskers' second kickoff return for a touchdown in the past 10 games (also Niles Paul, 100 yards at Oklahoma State last season).
*-Abdullah's 100-yard kickoff return tied for the second-longest in school history and is just the fourth kickoff return of 100 yards or more in school history.
*-Freshman receiver Jamal Turner had three receptions for 63 yards, including a 43-yard catch in the third quarter to set up a touchdown that put Nebraska ahead 21-20. Turner averages 20.5 yards on four receptions this season.
*-Redshirt freshman Kenny Bell had his first career reception--a 42-yarder in the second quarter--to set up a TD that tied the game at 14-14.
*-Junior tight end Kyler Reed had a 53-yard reception in the fourth quarter to set up a touchdown. The 53-yard catch was the fourth catch of Reed's career that covered at least 40 yards. He finished with two catches for 61 yards.
*-Nebraska had six plays from scrimmage of at least 38 yards in the game, including three runs by Martinez (57, 38, 46) and passes by Martinez of 43 yards to Turner, 42 yards to Bell and 53 yards to Reed.
*-Senior linebacker Lavonte David had a team-high 15 tackles, marking his ninth career double-figure tackle game and fourth with at least 15 tackles.
*-Junior linebacker Will Compton matched David's tackle total with a career-high 15. His previous career best was seven on two occasions.
*-Nebraska trailed 17-14 at half, before rallying for the victory. The win improved Nebraska to 5-9 under Bo Pelini when trailing at the half. It was NU's first win in that situation since trailing 10-7 at Iowa State at halftime last year, before winning 31-30 in overtime.
*-Fresno State's 29 points were the most by a non-conference opponent against Nebraska at Memorial Stadium since Virginia Tech scored 35 in a 35-30 win in 2008.
*-Fresno State's Devon Wylie had a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, marking the first punt return for a score against NU since Oct. 20, 2001, when Texas Tech's Wes Welker had an 85-yard return for a touchdown.
Washington brings a 2-0 record into its first road game of the 2011 season. The Huskies opened their season with a come-from-behind victory over in-state FCS school, Eastern Washington, 30-27. UW pulled out another close victory last weekend, topping Hawaii, 40-32.
After being out-gained 504-250 against Eastern Washington, the Huskies racked up 466 yards of offense against Hawaii and held the Rainbows to 388 yards. Washington enters play this weekend with the worst pass defense in the country with an average of 403.0 yards per game, but they will go up against a ground-oriented Nebraska offense that ranks 91st nationally in passing. Contrastly, Washington ranks seventh nationally against the run, allowing only 43.0 rushing yards per game.
Offensively, UW ranks 83rd nationally in total offense, but the Huskies feature a balanced attack. UW is averaging 208.5 passing yards per contest and 149.5 rushing yards per game. First-year starting quarterback Keith Price is completing 70 percent of his passes this season and has thrown for 417 yards and seven touchdowns against only one interception. Running back Chris Polk, who totaled more than 230 yards rushing in the two games against Nebraska last season, ranks 25th nationally with an average of 116.0 rushing yards per game this season.
Washington also boasts a solid special teams unit, led by place-kicker Erik Folk, who is a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals this season, including a long of 53 yards.
Nebraska and Washington are meeting for the third time in 12 months Saturday afternoon, after the teams split a pair of games last season. The Huskers won the regular-season meeting in 2010, handing Washington a 56-21 loss in Seattle, before the Huskies avenged the loss with a 19-7 victory in the Holiday Bowl. The all-time series between the two schools is tied 4-4-1, including a 1-1-1 mark inside Memorial Stadium. Nebraska has won three of the last four meetings in the series, outscoring the Huskies 145-61 during that stretch.
In last year's regular-season matchup, Nebraska never trailed and outgained the Huskies 533-246. The Huskers ran for 383 yards, as Rex Burkhead, Roy Helu Jr. and Taylor Martinez each rushed for more than 100 yards. Martinez also completed 7-of-11 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown, with Brandon Kinnie catching five of those seven completions for 105 yards.
In the Holiday Bowl, the roles were reversed as Washington never trailed, held Nebraska to 91 yards rushing and outgained the Huskers, 340-189.
Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian
Steve Sarkisian is in his third season at Washington and owns a 14-13 career record. The Huskies went 0-12 the year before Sarkisian arrived, posting their first winless season in school history. In his first season in 2009, Sarkisian guided Washington to a 5-7 record, as the five-game improvement in the win column was the most of any BCS school. Last season, Sarkisian led the Huskies to a 7-6 campaign that included a 19-7 victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl that marked Washington's first bowl win since 2000.
Before accepting the head coaching job at Washington, Sarkisian had spent the entirety of his coaching career in California. A stint as the Oakland Raiders' quarterbacks coach in 2004 marked Sarkisian's only season away from USC from 2001 to 2008. He spent seven total seasons at USC, including serving as the Trojans' offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his fourth season as Nebraska's head coach and owns a 32-12 record with the Huskers. Pelini helped Nebraska to at least a share of the Big 12 North title in each of his first three seasons, becoming the first coach in the history of that league to win at least a share of a division title in each of his first three years. Pelini has guided NU to a 2-0 start for the fourth straight year in 2011.
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 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.
Pelini Stacks up Well with Peers
In guiding Nebraska to a 32-12 record, Pelini has put himself in some impressive company.
*- Pelini is the fourth Nebraska head coach to win nine games in each of his first three seasons with the Cornhuskers. The others to reach that win plateau were Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich. Pelini has joined Solich as the only NU coaches with two 10-win seasons in their first three years.
*-Pelini, Solich and Texas' Mack Brown were the only coaches in Big 12 history (1996) to win nine or more games in each of their first three seasons.
*-Pelini's nine victories in 2008 tied for the most among 18 coaches in their first season at their respective schools. Among first-time head coaches, Pelini's victory total was the best in the nation. Pelini's 19 victories in his first two seasons were second among that group, and he has moved to the top of the 2008 hiring class with his 31 wins, two more than Navy's Ken Niumatalolo. (see page 11)
*-Pelini was just the eighth BCS Conference (since 1998) first-time head coach to post nine or more victories in his first season. He was just the second first-year head coach in that span to win nine games after inheriting a team with a losing record the previous year. Only Pelini and Bill Stewart (former West Virginia coach) from the group won nine games each of the past three seasons.
Pelini Continues Defensive Accomplishments at Nebraska
At Nebraska, Pelini has continued his history of building championship defenses. Nebraska finished second in the Big 12 in total defense in 2008, a year after NU was 100th or worse in nearly every defensive category. In 2009, the Huskers led the nation in scoring defense and had the nation's best scoring defensive improvement (18.1 ppg). Last season Nebraska again ranked among the nation's best in several defensive categories.
With Pelini's previous track record, the success of his Nebraska defenses is no surprise.
*-Pelini led the 2003 Blackshirts to impressive numbers. NU had a school-record 47 takeaways, including a Big 12-record 32 interceptions, and finished second nationally in scoring defense, first in pass efficiency defense and 11th in total defense.
*-Pelini guided LSU defenses to No. 3 national finishes in total defense each of his three seasons in Baton Rouge.
*-In 110 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini's defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 36 times and to 20 points or less 73 times.
*-Pelini-led defenses have 217 total takeaways, including two top-three national rankings.
Four Assistants in First Season on Husker Staff
After having the same coaching staff for each of his first three seasons at Nebraska, Bo Pelini welcomed four new assistants in 2011. Rich Fisher (receivers), John Garrison (assistant offensive line/tight ends), Ross Els (linebackers) and Corey Raymond (secondary) are all in their first seasons as full-time members of the Husker coaching staff.
In addition to the new faces, Pelini shuffled some duties among returning coaches. Tim Beck takes over the role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Ron Brown shifts to tutoring the Nebraska running backs.
Nebraska Seeks Third Straight 10-Win Season
Nebraska has posted 10 wins in each of the past two seasons, giving the Huskers back-to-back double-digit victory seasons for the first time since 2000 (10-2) and 2001 (11-2). A third straight season with 10 or more victories in 2011 would mark the first time the Huskers have accomplished that since a three-year span from 1999 to 2001.
Nebraska is one of just nine schools in the nation with back-to-back 10 win seasons, including Wisconsin and Ohio State of the Big Ten, Alabama (SEC), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oregon and Utah (Pac-12) and TCU and Boise State (Mountain West).
*-The 2010 season marked the first time Nebraska posted 10 wins in the regular season since the 2001 team won 11 regular-season games.
*-Bo Pelini joined Frank Solich as the only Nebraska coaches to post two 10-win seasons in their first three years in Lincoln.
*-The 2010 season was Nebraska's 25th all-time 10-win season in school history, including 23 since 1970.
Huskers in Elite Group with Three Straight Nine-Win Seasons
Nebraska secured its third straight nine-win season under third-year head coach Bo Pelini in 2010.
*-The three straight years of 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 is one 10 schools to with nine wins or more in each of the past three seasons, joining TCU, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Utah and West Virginia. Nebraska has 45 nine-win seasons in school history.
Nebraska in Inaugural Season in Big Ten Conference
Nebraska officially became the 12th member of the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2011, and is set for its first season of football competition in the nation's oldest conference. Nebraska will compete in the Legends Division in football, and enters the conference with a goal of reaching the first Big Ten Football Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Dec. 3.
Nebraska has won football championships in four conferences during its 121 years of intercollegiate football, and also competed as an independent for several years. Overall, Nebraska has won 43 conference championships.
The major conferences for the Nebraska football program since the first season of play in 1890 include:
1892-1897: Western Inter-State Foot Ball Association
1898-1906, 1918-1920: Independent
1907-1917, 1921-1927: Missouri Valley Conference (12 conference titles)
1928-1947: Big Six Conference (9 conference titles)
1948-1959: Big Seven Conference
1960-1995: Big Eight Conference (20 conference titles)
1996-2010: Big 12 Conference (2 conference titles)
2011-: Big Ten Conference
Nebraska holds a 31-6 record against Big Ten opponents since 1970. The Huskers have won seven straight games in Lincoln against conference foes dating back to a 1981 loss to Penn State, an independent at that time.
*-Among Big Ten Conference opponents, Nebraska has faced Minnesota the most, taking on the Gophers 51 times. Minnesota holds a 29-20-2 edge in the all-time series, but Nebraska has won the past 14 meetings dating back to 1963.
*-Nebraska and Iowa have met 41 times in football, with the Huskers owning a 26-12-3 advantage. The two teams have met just six times since 1946, with NU winning five of those six meetings. Nebraska and Iowa will complete the regular season against each other through at least 2014, and will battle on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2011 and 2012. Nebraska has played on the day after Thanksgiving every year since 1990, facing either Oklahoma or Colorado.
*-Nebraska has faced the remaining six Big Ten foes on the 2011 schedule a total of 35 times, led by 13 meetings with Penn State.
Legends and Leaders
The Big Ten Conference has divided into two divisions for football competition-Legends and Leaders. Winners of the respective divisions will meet on Dec. 3 in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
Nebraska will compete in the Legends Division along with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern. Nebraska will face each member of the Legends Division on an annual basis. The Leaders Division consists of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. The Huskers will face Penn State every year in a protected cross-over game, while the other five opponents will rotate onto Nebraska's schedule.
In 2011 and 2012, Nebraska will face Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Leaders Division. Nebraska will take on Illinois and Purdue in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and does not face Indiana in the regular season in its first four years of Big Ten schedules.
The 2011 Schedule
Nebraska is facing arguably one of the nation's most difficult schedules in 2011 and one of the most demanding slates in school history. In addition to a competitive non-conference schedule, the Huskers will face an extremely challenging schedule in their first season of competition in the Big Ten Conference.
The 2011 schedule features nine games against teams that participated in a bowl game in 2010. Included in that group are BCS bowl teams Ohio State (Sugar) and Wisconsin (Rose). Other teams that appeared in a bowl game include Fresno State (Humanitarian), Washington (Holiday), Michigan State (Capital One), Northwestern (Ticket City), Penn State (Outback), Michigan (Gator) and Iowa (Insight).
Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State shared the Big Ten title in 2010, and each of those three schools won 11 regular-season games.
Nebraska's home schedule is arguably the most attractive in school history. In addition to the new flavor of Big Ten foes, six of the seven opponents coming to Memorial Stadium competed in a bowl game last fall.
*-In the Big Ten's divisional setup, Nebraska will not face Purdue, Illinois and Indiana in 2011 and 2012. Nebraska's permanent cross-over opponent from the Leaders Division will be Penn State.
*-Nebraska's regular-season finale against Iowa has been moved for Friday, Nov. 25, continuing Nebraska's tradition of playing on the day after Thanksgiving.
NU-Washington Round Three
Nebraska and Washington will play a rubber match on Saturday after splitting a pair of meetings in the 2010 season. Nebraska won 56-21 in Seattle on Sept. 18, before the Huskies knocked off Nebraska, 19-7, in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30.
Nebraska 56, Washington 21, Sept. 18, 2010, Husky Stadium, Seattle
Nebraska jumped to a 14-0 lead after just five offensive plays, then scored two more touchdowns on the first five offensive plays of the second half on its way to a five-touchdown win. Nebrarska rolled up 533 yards of total offense, including 383 rushing yards. The trio of Taylor Martinez (137 yards, 3 TD), Roy Helu Jr. (110 yards, 2 TD) and Rex Burkhead (104 yards, TD) all topped 100 rushing yards, marking the fifth time in NU history the Huskers have had three 100-yard rushers in a game. The 56 points tied for the most ever against Washington in Seattle, and were Nebraska's most in a non-conference road game in 24 seasons.
The Nebraska defense also did its part, holding Washington to 246 yards, including just 71 passing yards, as UW quarterback Jake Locker completed just 4-of-20 passes, including two interceptions.
Washington 19, Nebraska, 7, Dec. 30, 2010, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Nebraska never found an offensive rhythm in the return match against Washington, as the Husky defense dominated en route to a 19-7 upset of the Huskers in the Holiday Bowl. Washington jumped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead, before Nebraska responded with a Martinez to Kyler Reed touchdown pass to trim the lead to 10-7. However, Washington scored on the opening possession of the second half and held the Huskers in check the rest of the night. UW gained 340 total yards, while limiting Nebraska to just 189 yards, nearly 350 fewer than in the first meeting.
*-The third meeting against the Huskies in a period of 12 months is very uncommon. Nebraska last faced an opponent that frequently in a short period of time in 1998 and 1999 when Nebraska met Texas three times in 13 months, including the 1999 Big 12 Championship Game. Nebraska and Oklahoma met three times in a 12-month span in 1978 and 1979, including an Orange Bowl matchup on Jan. 1, 1979.
Huskers Set for Battle With Pac-12 Opponent
Nebraska has had frequent non-conference battles with the Pac-12, formerly the Pac-10, in recent years. The meeting with Washington marks Nebraska's 22nd game against a Pac-12 opponent at game time since 1990. In addition, Nebraska met one of the league's newest members, Colorado, every year as a conference opponent. Since 1990, Nebraska owns a 14-7 record against Pac-12 opponets (not including CU), including the two-game split with Washington last season.
*-Nebraska is 35-21-3 all-time against Pac-12 opponents at game time, or 88-39-5 when including games against new Pac-12 schools Colorado and Utah.
*-Nebraska has faced every member of the Pac-12 since 1990, with the exception of Stanford and Oregon.
*-Saturday's game against Washington will mark Nebraska's 38th meeting with a member of the conference at game time since 1970. The Huskers have been ranked in the top 20 for each of those 38 games, including 29 times in the top 10 and 16 times in the top five. NU enters Saturday's game ranked 10th in both polls.
*-In addition to Saturday's game against Washington, Nebraska is scheduled to meet UCLA in 2012 and 2013.
Husker Returnees Fill Preseason National Award Watch Lists
Nebraska features several players who ranked among the nation's top returning talent in 2011. Senior defensive tackle Jared Crick, senior linebacker Lavonte David and senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard have all been selected as preseason All-Americans by at least one media outlet this fall. Including each member of that trio, a total of eight Huskers have combined for 23 selections to preseason watch lists for a major national award. Nebraska also boasts the returning production of several players who rank among the nation's best.
*-Jared Crick has 19.0 career sacks and 34 career tackles-for-loss. His 19.0 sacks rank third nationally among active players and are tops among interior defensive linemen. Crick's 34 TFLs also lead all interior defensive linemen nationally.
*-Lavonte David set a school record with 152 tackles in his first year as a Husker in 2010, and has opened 2011 with 24 tackles in the first two games. David's career average of 11.0 tackles per game ranks second nationally.
*-Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez rushed for 965 yards last season, the second-highest total by a Husker freshman, regardless of position. Martinez's 2010 rushing total ranked second nationally among returning quarterbacks, trailing only Michigan's Denard Robinson.
*-Martinez and junior I-back Rex Burkhead combined to rush for 1,916 yards last season. That total ranked Martinez and Burkhead as the third-highest returning quarterback-running back rushing tandem in the country. After combining for 137 yards per game last season, the duo combined for 210 yards and four rushing touchdowns in the season-opening win over Chattanooga and 221 yards and four touchdowns against Fresno State.
Young Huskers Adding Explosive Element to NU Offense
The Nebraska offense is filled with youth this fall, as 11 players in the offensive two-deep depth saw their first action in the opener against Chattanooga. That young talent and ability was evident in Nebraska's 42-29 victory over Fresno State. Every yard and point in the contest was accounted by a player that was a junior or younger, highlighted by explosive plays by Nebraska freshmen and sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez.
*-A trio of freshmen delivered at the skill positions against Fresno State. I-back/returner Ameer Abdullah and receivers Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell combined for 336 all-purpose yards on 12 touches, a 28.0-yard average.
*-Abdullah had 231 all-purpose yards on eight touches, including a school-record 211 kickoff return yards on five returns. Abdullah had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, tying for the second-longest return in school history. The 211 return yards were eighth in Big Ten history and after two weeks, Abdullah ranks second nationally in kickoff return average at 42.2 yards per return. He is 13th nationally in punt return average.
*-Turner had three catches for 63 yards, including a 43-yard catch in the third-quarter, while Bell made the most of his first career reception, hauling in a 42-yarder in the second quarter to set up a touchdown.
NU Offense Continues to Show Home-Run Ability
Nebraska's 2010 offense featured a big-play element led by Martinez, and 2011 appears to be no different. NU is averaging 6.5 yards per play, including 12 offensive plays of at least 20 yards and eight of more than 40 yards.
*-Martinez has four rushes of more than 40 yards, including a long of 57 yards against Fresno State and touchdowns of 43, 46 and 47 yards. He also had a 37-yard run against Fresno State. Martinez is averaging 8.9 yards per rush and 8.2 yards per play this season.
*-NU had three pass plays of more than 40 yards against Fresno State and Martinez averaged 21.9 yards on 10 completions in the game. He is averaging 15.9 yards per completion through two games. Four Husker receivers are each averaging more than 20.0 yards per catch through two games.
Youth Served on Nebraska Offensive Line
Nebraska has a long tradition of annually putting one of the nation's top offensive lines on the field. The Huskers traditionally have also had an offensive line consisting primarily of upperclassmen. Last year, the Huskers started three seniors and a junior on the line for the majority of the season. That trend has changed in 2011, with a youth movement up front. In the first two games in 2011, Nebraska has started a true freshman, redshirt freshman, and a pair of sophomores up front, along with a pair of seniors.
Highlighting the youth movement is true freshman Tyler Moore who earned starts at right tackle each of the first two weeks, marking a historic milestone in Nebraska history.
*-Moore, who enrolled in January, was the first true freshman offensive lineman to start a season opener in Nebraska history, and just the fourth freshman offensive lineman to earn a start in Nebraska's season opener, joining redshirt freshmen Jeremiah Sirles (2010 vs. Western Kentucky), Marcel Jones (2008 vs. Western Michigan) and Richie Incognito (2002 vs. Arizona State).
*-Moore is also just the fourth true freshman offensive lineman to start a game at Nebraska and the first since 2007. Previous true freshman starters on the offensive line include: Jaivorio Burkes (2 starts in 2007), Jacob Hickman (1 start in 2006) and Matt Slauson (3 starts in 2005).
*-Moore is only the 10th true freshman offensive lineman to appear in a game for the Huskers since freshmen regained eligibility in 1973, and just the sixth to appear in a season opener.
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Play at Nebraska (10)
Tyler Moore (2011), Andrew Rodriguez (2010), Jaivorio Burkes (2007), Jacob Hickman (2006), Matt Slauson (2005), Greg Austin (2003), Toniu Fonoti (1999), John Garrison (1999), Will Shields (1989), Jake Young (1986)
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Play in Season Opener (6)
Tyler Moore (2011), Andrew Rodriguez (2010), Tonui Fonoti (1999), John Garrison (1999), Will Shields (1989), Jake Young (1986)
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Start a Game (4)
Tyler Moore (2011), Jaivorio Burkes (2 games in 2007), Jacob Hickman (1 games in 2006), Matt Slauson (3 games in 2005)
Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Start Season Opener (4)
Tyler Moore (2011), Jeremiah Sirles (RFr., 2010), Marcel Jones (RFr., 2008), Richie Incognito (RFr., 2002)
*-The three underclassmen in Nebraska's starting offensive line were a rarity. The Chattanooga game marked the first time the Huskers started three underclassmen on the offensive line in any game since 2008, and the first time ever in a season opener.
Martinez Continues to Shine in September
Nebraska sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez has been a dynamic play-maker for the Nebraska offense since taking the reins of the offense at the start of the 2010 season. Martinez is off to another prolific start to the 2011 season, much like his redshirt freshman campaign.
After rushing for 135 yards on 19 carries in the opener against Chattanooga, Martinez had 166 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries against Fresno State. He had three runs of at least 37 yards against the Bulldogs and averaged 11.1 yards per carry. He also threw for 219 yards against the Bulldogs, the second-highest total of his career. Martinez has now posted the only two 200-yard passing, 100-yard rushing days in school history.
*-Through two weeks, Martinez ranks tied for third nationally in rushing at 150.5 yards per game. Michigan's Denard Robinson is second among quarterbacks nationally in that category, averaging 108.0 yards per game.
*-Martinez is 14th nationally and first in the Big Ten in total offense at 318.0 yards per game, 23 yards ahead of Robinson in the Big Ten rankings. Martinez is tied for sixth nationally in scoring at 15.0 points per game.
Martinez's dual-threat ability has shown the brightest in the month of September, including two impressive efforts in season openers. Martinez rushed for three touchdowns in the opener against Chattanooga.
*-The Chattanooga contest marked the fourth time in Martinez's career he has rushed for at least three touchdowns, including season openers the past two years. Overall, he has six career multi-rushing TD games.
*-Martinez's back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to start the year gives him seven 100-yard rushing games in 15 career contests. He rushed for better than 100 yards in each of the first three games last season, including 137 yards at Washington last season. Martinez's seven career 100-yard rushing games is already third among Nebraska quarterbacks, trailing only Eric Crouch (18) and Jammal Lord (8).
In six September games as Nebraska's starter, Martinez has guided the Huskers to a 6-0 record, with the offense averaging 40.3 points per game. As a passer, Martinez has completed 55-of-100 passes in September for 867 yards and three touchdowns, but his ground game has provided his biggest September statistics.
Martinez averages 132.8 rushing yards per game in September and has topped 100 rushing yards in five of six games. He averages an impressive 9.2 yards per carry in September, including 13 rushes of 20 yards or more. Martinez also has 13 of his 17 career rushing touchdowns in September, including runs of 43 (twice), 46 (twice), 47, 67 and 80 yards. Martinez has three games in September with three rushing touchdowns.
Huskers Hoping to Feature Powerful Rushing Attack
Nebraska led the Big 12 and ranked ninth nationally in rushing offense in 2010, averaging 247.6 yards per game. Nebraska's national rushing ranking was its highest since 2003 (7th) and the 247.6 yards per game were its best since averaging 268.7 yards on the ground in 2002. Nebraska did not finish higher than 23rd nationally in rushing between 2004 and 2009.
Nebraska hopes to have another strong running game in 2011, and opened the year with 229 rushing yards and four rushing scores in a 40-7 win over Chattanooga, and 219 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns against Fresno State. NU's average of 224.0 rushing yards per game is fourth in the Big Ten and 24th nationally.
Nebraska returns a pair of runners who each topped 900 yards on the ground in 2010. I-back Rex Burkhead finished his sophomore season with 951 rushing yards, while quarterback Taylor Martinez netted 965 yards despite being injured for much of the second half of the year. Martinez has 301 yards and five touchdowns in the first two games, while Burkhead has 130 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Nebraska was one of only three teams nationally with a pair of returning 900-yard rushers from last season (also Wisconsin and Pittsburgh). Not only is a pair of returning 900-yard rushers a rare feat in college football this season, it is also nearly unheard of in the history of Nebraska football. The 2011 season marks only the third time in Husker history that Nebraska returns two 900-yard rushers from the previous season. The only other seasons where NU returned that production was in 1982 (Roger Craig and Mike Rozier) and 1992 (Derek Brown and Calvin Jones).
Burkhead and Martinez also ranked third among the nation's top returning running back-quarterback rushing tandems (behind Michigan's Vincent Smith and Denard Robinson and Oregon's LaMichael James and Darron Thomas).
FBS Teams Returning Multiple 900-Yard Rushers from 2010
- Wisconsin (James White - 1,052; Montee Ball - 996)
- Pittsburgh (Dion Lewis - 1,061; Ray Graham - 922)
- Nebraska (Taylor Martinez (QB) - 965; Rex Burkhead - 951)
FBS Top Returning Quarterback-Running Back Rushing Combination
- Michigan, 2,303 yards (Denard Robinson - 1,702; Vincent Smith - 601)
- Oregon, 2,217 yards (Darron Thomas - 486; LaMichael James - 1,731)
- Nebraska, 1,916 yards (Taylor Martinez - 965; Rex Burkhead - 951)
Husker Teams with Two Returning 900-Yard Rushers from Previous Season
Burkhead, Martinez and graduated I-back Roy Helu Jr. led a 2010 rushing attack that put up numbers not seen at Nebraska in seven seasons.
» Nebraska topped 200 rushing yards in 10 of 14 games in 2010. The Huskers were 10-0 when rushing for 200 yards, and topped that plateau again in the first two games, improving to 19-2 under Pelini when rushing for 200 or more yards.
» Nebraska had back-to-back 300-yard rushing performances in games 2 and 3 (Idaho, Washington), marking the first time NU topped 300 rushing yards in consecutive games since late in 2002. NU had five straight 200-yard rushing games to start the season and six overall including the 2009 Holiday Bowl, marking the longest streak for the Huskers since also posting six straight 200-yard rushing games during the 2002 season.
» Nebraska's 451 rushing yards at Kansas State were its most since posting 641 rushing yards at Baylor in 2001. It also marked just the Huskers' second 400-yard rushing game in the past seven seasons (413 vs. Nevada, 2007).
» In road wins at Washington and Kansas State, Nebraska rushed for more than 300 yards in consecutive road games for the first time since 2001 when NU topped 300 rushing yards in back-to-back games at Missouri and Baylor. NU also topped 200 rushing yards in road wins at Oklahoma State (217) and Iowa State (235).
» Nebraska had three players crack the century mark in rushing yards in the first meeting with Washington, as Martinez, Helu Jr. and Burkhead all surpassed 100 yards. The game marked the fifth time in school history Nebraska has had three players reach 100 rushing yards in the same game, and the first time it has happened since four Husker runners topped 100 yards at Baylor in 2001.
» Martinez and Helu Jr. also teamed up to produce double 100-yard rushing games against Idaho and Kansas State. The Idaho game marked the first time since 2006 (Iowa State) NU had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game. Nebraska has had two players rush for 100 yards in the same game 68 times in school history.
» Nebraska had 12 100-yard rushing games in 2010 after having just 16 combined 100-yard games the previous three seasons (2007-09). The 12 100-yard games in 2010 were the most by NU since the 2001 team had 16 100-yard rushing outings in 13 games.
» Nebraska rushed for 3,466 yards in 14 games in 2010, over 1,400 yards more than in 14 games in 2009. It marked the first time NU rushed for 2,500 yards in a season since 2003.
David Building on Record-Setting Season
Linebacker Lavonte David arrived on the Nebraska campus just a few months before the 2010 season, but by the end of the year he had put his name in the Nebraska record book. In 2011, the 6-1, 225-pound David appears to be playing at an equally high level and he figures to be a strong candidate for national honors, including one of the leading contenders for the Butkus Award.
David set a Nebraska season record with 152 tackles in 2010, and his 10.9 tackles per game ranked 11th nationally and tops in the Big 12. His tackle total surpassed the previous school record of 149 tackles by Barrett Ruud in 2003. The 6-1, 220-pound David was also the first Blackshirt defender to record 100 tackles since Ruud in 2004.
David opened the 2011 season with a team-high nine tackles, including a tackle for loss in the win over Chattanooga, helping the Huskers limit the Mocs to just seven points and 230 total yards. He backed that up with 15 tackles against Fresno State for his ninth career double-figure tackle game, including four with at least 15 tackles.
*-David had a career-high 19 tackles in the Huskers' victory over South Dakota State in 2010. His tackle total vs. SDSU was tied for the most in the Big 12, and was the highest for a Nebraska player since Ruud totaled 19 tackles at Kansas State in 2004. The tackle total tied for the seventh-most in a single game in Nebraska history.
*-David had 35 tackles in back-to-back games against South Dakota State and Kansas State, the best for a Husker since Ruud had 36 tackles in back-to-back games against Kansas State and Missouri in 2004. David made 17 tackles against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, giving him the top three tackle efforts of the past six seasons.
In addition to leading the team in tackles, David was second on the team in tackles for loss (15-60), sacks (6-50) and pass breakups (10), while ranking fourth in hurries (7). David was named the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year by every outlet that selected that honor. He was also a first-team All-Big 12 selection, while the Kansas City Star named him its conference defensive player of the year. David also received national accolades, including first-team All-America honors by Rivals.com and CBSSports.com, while the AP and SI.com named him to the second team.
Despite having the benefit of only two seasons in a Nebraska uniform, David is in position to rank among the top 10 career tackles in school history. David needs 72 tackles to crack the top 10, and just 44 to reach the top 20 on the career list. Demorrio Williams' 220 career tackles are the most by a Nebraska defender who played just two seasons as a Husker (2002-03), while David's 176 tackles are second in that group.
Crick Poised for Dominant Senior Season
Defensive tackle Jared Crick has been a fixture on Nebraska's defensive line and in opponent backfields for three seasons. The 6-6, 285-pound Crick has earned first-team all-conference honors each of the past two seasons, and is likely to be a strong candidate for numerous national honors this fall.
In addition to his All-Big 12 award in 2010, Crick was also a first-team All-America choice by Rivals.com, while earning second-team honors from the Associated Press and CBSSports.com. Crick was one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, and he was a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Crick entered 2011 in position to cement his place as one of the top defenders in Nebraska history. He was a first-team All-American by nearly every preseason outlet and is among the favorites for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Crick opened the year with five tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss, against Chattanooga. He also broke up a pass that was intercepted and added a quarterback hurry. He added three tackles against Fresno State.
*-Crick has the opportunity to become Nebraska's first three-time, first-team all-conference selection since cornerback Ralph Brown achieved the rare honor in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Just 21 players in school history have been three-time all-conference picks, including only five since 1990.
*-Crick made 70 tackles last season to rank third on the team and first among linemen. He led all Big 12 defensive linemen with 5.0 tackles per game.
*-Crick had a team-high 9.5 sacks, including three games with two or more sacks. His 2010 sack total equaled his 2009 total, giving Crick 19 career sacks. His sack total ranks eighth in school history and he is third among active players in sacks. Crick is five sacks from cracking the top five in NU history and 11.5 sacks from Trev Alberts' school record of 29.5 career sacks.
*-Crick led the team with 17 tackles for loss (91 yards) in his junior season. His 34 career tackles for loss are four shy of the top 10 on the career chart, and Crick is 10 tackles for loss from cracking the top five in school history. Crick has the most career tackles for loss nationally among interior defensive linemen.
*-In 2009, Crick pushed Ndamukong Suh for team statistical leads in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss. Crick finished with 73 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. His 5.2 tackles per game were second behind Suh among Big 12 defensive linemen.
*-Crick had one of the most prolific defensive days in school history with a record-setting performance at Baylor in 2009. Crick had a school-record five sacks for 24 yards in the game. His five sacks were the most in a single game by any player in the nation in 2009, just ahead of Suh's 4.5 sacks against Texas. Crick had seven tackles for loss, tying the NU school record also held by Jim Skow (1985 vs. Missouri) and Suh (2009 vs. Texas). The seven TFLs by Crick and Suh were three more than any other Big 12 player in 2009.
Points at a Premium Against Blackshirts
Nebraska has been remarkably stingy on the scoreboard the past two seasons. The 2009 defense led the nation in scoring defense at 10.4 points per game, and held seven foes to single digits and eight teams to 10 or fewer points. Both of those totals led the nation. Nebraska posted two shutouts for the first time since 2003. In 2010, Nebraska again ranked in the top 10 nationally, holding opponents to 17.4 points per game to rank ninth.
The scoring defense numbers put together the past two seasons stack up well historically. Including two games in 2011, Nebraska has allowed an average of 14.2 points per game in 30 games since the start of the 2009 season. That is the fourth-best scoring defense mark in the nation in that span, trailing only Alabama, Ohio State and TCU.
*-Nebraska's 10.4 points per game allowed in 2009 were the fewest since the 1984 defense led the nation by allowing just 9.5 points per game. NU had not allowed fewer than 15 points per game since 2003.
*-Before the last two seasons, Nebraska had not ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense in consecutive seasons since 1995 and 1996.
*-Nebraska held 13 of 14 opponents to 20 or fewer points in 2009. To put that accomplishment in perspective, NU held just six opponents to fewer than 20 points in 2007 and 2008 combined. Nebraska held 10 of 14 teams to 20 or fewer points in 2010, and only one opponent scored more than 24 points in regulation play.
*-Only 13 Nebraska opponents have scored as many as 17 points since the start of the 2009 season (30 games). In that stretch, Nebraska has allowed 10 or fewer points in 13 games. Fresno State's 29 points were the most Nebraska has allowed in non-conference play since the 2008 season against Virginia Tech.
Defense Aims to Remain Tough at Home
Before Fresno State dented Nebraska for 29 points, it had been extremely difficult for opponents to light the scoreboard at Memorial Stadium.
Since the start of the 2009 season, the Huskers have allowed only 181 points in 16 homes games, an average of just 11.3 points per game. The Blackshirts have allowed only 17 touchdowns in their last 16 home games, while holding 10 opponents to 10 points or less and six to a field goal or less.
Nebraska's home defense has been exceptionally good against non-conference competition. Nebraska has allowed an average of 9.8 points per home game against non-conference opponents over the past two-plus seasons. The Huskers have surrendered only 78 points in nine games, allowing only six offensive touchdowns.
No Passing Zone
Nebraska's defense has consistently been among the nation's best under Bo and Carl Pelini. That effort has been led by the Blackshirts' remarkable pass defense. Nebraska had a dominant secondary in 2010, marking the second straight season NU ranked among the nation's top pass defenses.
Nebraska finished third nationally in pass efficiency defense (96.29 rating) and fifth in passing yards allowed (153.6 ypg) in 2010. Nebraska allowed opposing passers to complete just 48.7 percent of passing attempts, a mark that ranked second nationally.
The pass defense effort came a year after Nebraska led the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2009. Over the past two seasons, Nebraska has allowed 21 touchdown passes, while picking off 40 opponent passes. NU allowed just seven passing touchdowns in 2009 and 13 in 2010.
The Huskers have a 92.10 pass efficiency defensive rating since the start of 2009, second-best in the nation. In 30 games since the start of the 2009 season, NU has allowed just 169.3 passing yards per game, eighth-best in the nation.
Other notable accomplishments for Nebraska's pass defense include:
*-Nebraska opponents have completed less than 50 percent of their passes each of the past two seasons. Ten of 14 opponents in 2009 completed 50 percent or less of their pass attempts, and five opponents had less than 150 yards passing. In 2010, seven opponents threw for 135 yards or less, and NU also held seven opponents below a 50 percent completion rate.
*-Nebraska had 19 interceptions in 2010 to tie for 11th in the country. In 2009, Nebraska tied for seventh in the nation with 20 interceptions.
*-Nebraska's average of 153.6 yards per game allowed through the air in 2010 was its best pass defense average since allowing 131.0 yards per game in 1990.
*-The Blackshirts allowed 15 passing yards against Kansas in 2010, the fewest since allowing zero completions against Nicholls State in 2006. It was just the eighth time since 1990 that NU held an opponent to 50 or fewer passing yards. Kansas did not complete a pass after the first quarter (0-of-9).
Maher Impressive in Taking Over Kicking and Punting Duties
When you must replace the most accurate place-kicker in NCAA history there is obviously going to be some concern heading into the season. However, junior place-kicker/punter Brett Maher has quickly put most of those concerns to rest with a near-perfect effort through two games. Maher replaced Alex Henery, Nebraska's starting place-kicker from 2007 to 2010, and starting punter the past two seasons. Henery is now with the Philadelphia Eagles.
A native of Kearney, Neb., Maher was a perfect 4-of-4 on field goals in the opener, including a 50-yarder into a strong wind on his first career attempt. He added field goals of 48, 34 and 21 yards later in the game and his four field goals tied for the third-most in school history and also tied the record for most field goals in a season opener. Maher was also perfect on four PAT attempts and was perfect on six PAT attempts against Fresno State.
Maher has been even more impressive in the punting department. Maher showed his strong leg in the opener, averaging 52.0 yards on his four punts, including downing two inside the Chattanooga 20-yard line. The 52.0-yard per punt average was the best by a Nebraska punter since the 2005 season. Against Fresno State, Maher averaged 50.8 yards on five punts, and again downed a pair of punts inside the 20. Maher is the first Nebraska punter to average 50.0 yards per punt in consecutive games since Sam Koch accomplished the feat in the final two games of the 2005 season. Maher's punting average of 51.33 yards is first in the nation through two weeks.
Maher was rewarded for his effort against Chattanooga by being named co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. Maher was part of a special teams that continued to excel in week two, and NU captured the league award for a second straight week, as freshman Ameer Abdullah received the weekly honor for his explosive return effort against Fresno State.
Throughout the offseason, the Nebraska coaching staff preached the importance of having fewer penalties and turnovers in 2011. Last season, Nebraska set school records for most penalties and penalty yards and also led the nation in fumbles. Nebraska has been much improved in the penalty area and has had mixed results in the turnover department through two games.
*-Nebraska had three penalties for 33 yards against Chattanooga in the opener, and three penalties for 25 yards against Fresno State. In 2010, Nebraska had at least six penalties in 13 of 14 games and tallied at least 45 yards in penalties in all but one game. NU's season low last season was three penalties for 15 yards against Oklahoma. Nebraska ranks ninth nationally in fewest penalties per game at 3.0 per contest.
*-Nebraska has committed four turnovers in the first two games, while gaining a pair of turnovers.
Several Huskers Earn First Start, Playing Time
Several Huskers made either their career debut, first career start or both in the season-opening win over Chattanooga. First-time starters against the Mocs included true freshman Tyler Moore, sophomores Spencer Long and Andrew Rodriguez and senior Jermarcus "Yoshi" Hardrick on the offensive line, sophomore receiver Quincy Enunwa, sophomore cornerback Andrew Green, sophomore defensive end Jason Ankrah and junior punter and place-kicker Brett Maher.
*-In addition to Moore, other true freshmen to see action against Chattanooga included I-backs Ameer Abdullah, Aaron Green and Braylon Heard, wide receiver Jamal Turner and place-kicker Mauro Bondi. Last season, just three true freshmen played for the Huskers and Nebraska also played six true freshman in 2009.
*-Other players seeing their first action as Huskers included junior transfers Joseph Carter (defensive end) and Daimion Stafford (safety), redshirt freshmen Kenny Bell (wide receiver), Brion Carnes (quarterback), Corey Cooper (safety), Jake Cotton (offensive guard), Tyler Evans (wide receiver), Harvey Jackson (safety), Stanley Jean-Baptiste (wide receiver), Josh Mitchell (cornerback), Trevor Roach (linebacker) and Chase Rome (defensive tackle).
*-Against Fresno State, safety Daimion Stafford and tight end Kevin Thomsen each made their first career starts.
Four Walk-ons Placed on Scholarship
Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini announced during fall camp that four Huskers had been placed on scholarship after originally joining the team as walk-ons. The group included senior I-back Austin Jones, senior fullback Tyler Legate, senior defensive back Lance Thorell and junior long snapper P.J. Mangieri.
Pelini has made the walk-on program a huge priority since taking over the Nebraska program. In his first four recruiting classes, Nebraska has welcomed more than 80 walk-on players into the Nebraska program. In his first four seasons, Pelini has placed 14 players on scholarship prior to the start of the season.
A senior from Aurora, Colo., Jones has played in 10 games as a reserve I-back the past two seasons and compiled 76 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 career carries.
Legate joined the Nebraska program in 2008 after one season at South Dakota. Legate has played in 27 games the past two seasons, including 10 starts at fullback. He has four career receptions, including a pair of touchdown grabs. Legate was Nebraska's 2009 walk-on MVP and was a first-team academic All-Big 12 pick in 2010.
A native of Loomis, Neb., Thorell has been a fixture in the Nebraska secondary for the past three seasons. Thorell has played in 39 games, including six career starts, and has often being used in a nickel or dime role. Thorell has recorded 38 career tackles and two pass breakups. He is a three-time academic All-Big 12 pick and a three-year member of the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team.
Mangieri joined the Nebraska program as a walk-on from Peoria, Ill., in 2009 and has started every game the past two seasons as Nebraska's long snapper. His work helped former NU place-kicker Alex Henery shatter numerous school records the past two seasons.
NCAA Record Sellout Streak Continues
One of the most remarkable streaks in collegiate sports continues into the 2011 season. Nebraska has sold out every game at Memorial Stadium since November of 1962, and the streak stands at 313 games. With seven home games in 2011, the streak is likely to reach 318 by season's end. Nebraska celebrated the 300th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 26, 2009 against Louisiana-Lafayette, with a stadium record crowd of 86,304. Notre Dame is second in all-time consecutive sellouts with 221, 92 fewer than Nebraska.
Memorial Stadium Provides Huskers with Huge Home-Field Edge
Nebraska has rewarded the loyalty of its fans with incredible success at Memorial Stadium through the years.
» Nebraska has won at least six home games in 20 of the past 25 seasons. Nebraska is 137-19 at home in the last 23 seasons (since 1989). Nebraska finished 6-1 at home in 2010, its best record at Memorial Stadium since also going 6-1 in 2006.
» During Nebraska's run of success at home in the past 25 years, NU has had three home winning streaks of 20 or more games. Nebraska has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons.
» The Huskers are 506-138-20 (.777, 664 games, 122 years) in Lincoln, and 381-115-13 (.761, 509 games, 89 years) in Memorial Stadium (since 1923). Nebraska has had 42 straight winning home seasons.
» Nebraska posted its 500th all-time home win against Idaho on Sept. 11, 2010. The 500th home victory put Nebraska in elite company. Only three other schools in college football history (Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee) reached the 500-win plateau at home before Nebraska.
Memorial Stadium Expansion in Progress
Fans arriving at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium this fall will see construction on the East side of the stadium. When complete for the 2013 season, the addition will push Nebraska's average attendance beyond 90,000. While adding more than 5,000 seats, including a combination of club seats, suites and general public seating, the addition will preserve the rich tradition and orginial architecture of Memorial Stadium. The East Stadium addition will also include dedicated restrooms and concessions areas. A new grand lobby, expanded concourse, and additional first-aid areas will also be added. No current East Stadium seats will be removed and no season ticket holders will be required to relocate their seats as part of this project.
The addition will also include dedicated areas on the ground floor for research, both for Athletics and UNL Research. Construction will resume in full force following the football season and will be completed in time for the 2013 season.
Huskers Open 2011 Season in Associated Press Top 10
Nebraska opened the 2011 season ranked 10th according to the Associated Press, while the Huskers checked in at No. 11 in the preseason coaches poll. Nebraska is currently 10th in both polls. A year ago, Nebraska began the year ranked eighth in the preseason Associated Press poll. This marks the first time NU has opened in the top 10 in back-to-back years since 2001 and 2002. In fact, Nebraska opened in the top 10 each year from 1993 to 2002, and was also in the preseason top 10 each season from 1978 to 1990.
Last season, Nebraska ranked as high as fifth in the Associated Press poll, the Huskers highest ranking in the AP poll at any time since ranking fourth entering the 2002 Rose Bowl contest against Miami.
Nebraska Among Leaders in Associated Press National Titles
Notre Dame leads the nation by winning eight Associated Press national titles since 1936, with Oklahoma (7), Alabama (6), Miami (5), USC (5), Nebraska (4) and Minnesota (4) next in line. While the Huskers were awarded the national title by the coaches in 1997, NU finished second to Michigan in the AP poll.
In 1970, Nebraska was awarded the AP national title, but not the coaches (Texas was first, Ohio State second and NU third) as the final poll was released before the bowl games were played. In the coaches poll (since 1950), NU is tied for fourth with Miami and Texas with four titles, behind Alabama and Oklahoma with six apiece, and USC with five.
Nebraska has won 43 football conference championships in school history, and is making its debut in the Big Ten Conference this fall. The Huskers won 13 conference titles under Tom Osborne and eight under Bob Devaney.
During its 15-year history in the Big 12 Conference, Nebraska won league titles in 1997 and 1999, and also appeared in the Big 12 Championship Game in 1996, 2006, 2009 and 2010. Nebraska was one of just three teams to capture two or more Big 12 titles in the first 15 years of the league, joining Oklahoma and Texas. Nebraska's six Big 12 title game appearances were second only to Oklahoma's eight.
The 2011 Nebraska roster includes three sets of twins and five total sets of brothers. Courtney and Steven Osborne of Garland, Texas, signed with the Huskers in 2008 and enter their fourth seasons in the program-Courtney as a safety and Steven at wide receiver. Colin and Conor McDermott walked on to Nebraska from Omaha Creighton Prep high school and will both be juniors this fall. Jake and Spencer Long also hail from Omaha (Elkhorn High School) and are in their third seasons in the program. Jake lines up at tight end, while Spencer is an offensive lineman.
In addition to the three sets of twins, Nebraska also has two other sets of brothers on the roster-Ben and Jake Cotton, and Andrew and Aaron Green. The Cottons are the sons of Nebraska associate head coach Barney Cotton. In addition, walk-on redshirt freshman offensive lineman Mark Pelini is the nephew of Bo and Carl Pelini. Fullback Mike Marrow is the son of Nebraska graduate assistant coach Vince Marrow. Freshman walk-on linebacker Broderick Boehm is the son of Nebraska Executive Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm.
Nebraska Football-A Family Affair
The Cotton family is one of several father-son combinations who have played for Nebraska. Barney lettered at Nebraska in 1976-78, while Ben is a junior tight end and Jake is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman. Other current Nebraska players whose fathers also played at NU include DB Joey Felici (Tony, 1980-82), LB Sean Fisher (Todd, 1983), DE Andy Gdowski (Tom, 1980-82), WR KC Hyland (John, 1970-72), LB Micah Kreikemeier (Keith, 1981-85), DE Jay Martin (Bob, 1973-75), OL Tyler Moore (Brian, 1982-85), LB Anthony Ridder (Dave, 1981-83), TE Eddie Ridder (Tom, 1970s), C Cole Pensick (Dan, 1977-79), LB Colby Starkebaum (John, 1972-74) and DT Baker Steinkuhler (Dean, 1981-83).
NFL Has Large Influence on Nebraska Roster
Several players also have family connections with the National Football League. Barney Cotton logged four seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Cardinals from 1979 to 1982, giving his sons Ben and Jake a direct line to the NFL. Other players whose fathers played in the NFL include Kenny Bell (Ken, Denver, 1986-89), Jay Martin (Bob, N.Y. Jets, San Francisco, 1976-79), Mike Marrow (Vince, Buffalo, Carolina, N.Y. Jets, Chicago, San Francisco, 1992-99) Baker Steinkuhler (Dean, Houston, 1984-91), and Lester Ward (Lester, Sr., Dallas).
Nebraska Football Continues Winning Ways in the Classroom
Nebraska football has long been one of the nation's most successful programs on the field. Success in the classroom is also a cornerstone of the Nebraska football program.
CASSIDY CONTINUES ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA TRADITION
Nebraska junior safety Austin Cassidy was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America first team in 2010. Cassidy was Nebraska's first first-team academic All-American since 2005. Cassidy carries a 3.905 cumulative grade-point average in psychology, and has been named to the academic all-district team each of the past two seasons.
NATION-LEADING TOTAL OF ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICANS
The selection of Cassidy continued to help build Nebraska's nation-leading total of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in football. The Huskers now have 99 all-time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in football, including 64 first-team selections. Nebraska also leads the nation in academic All-Americans with 291 academic All-Americans across all teams and all sports, including 14 honorees in 2010-11.
SENIOR CLASS IN STRONG ACADEMIC STANDING
Nebraska's 21-player senior class includes two players-Austin Cassidy and Jared Crick-who are playing the 2011 season as graduate students. Cassidy picked up his undergraduate degree in May and Crick graduated in August.
» Another 12 seniors are on track to complete their degree work in the fall, giving the Huskers 14 senior graduates by the bowl season. All 21 members of the senior class are scheduled to complete their undergraduate work by August 2012, including 20 of the 21 by next May.
» In addition to the senior class, five current NU juniors are scheduled to complete their undergraduate work during the fall semester, finishing in just 3 1/2 years. That group includes Kenny Anderson, Will Compton, Ben Cotton, Baker Steinkuhler and Josh Williams. Another seven juniors are currently on track to graduate in May of 2012.
» Among Bo Pelini's first three senior classes, 52 of 57 players are on track to earn their degrees by December.
Nebraska Posts Impressive Exhausted Eligibility Grad Rates
Nebraska athletic teams continue to graduate student-athletes at an impressive rate. Nebraska led the Big 12 in exhausted eligibility graduation rates for seven straight years before the NCAA chose not to calculate the rate in 2010. Nebraska however has increased its exhausted eligibility grad rate to an impressive 95 percent.
The exhausted eligibility rate surveys the graduation rate of scholarship student-athletes in 10 incoming freshman classes who complete their eligibility at the university. Nebraska's exhausted eligibility rate has improved 23 percentage points since the inception of the rate in 1991-92.