GAME 12: IOWA AT NEBRASKA
NOV. 25, 2011 | MEMORIAL STADIUM
LINCOLN, NEB. | 11 A.M. (CT)
Record: 8-3, 4-3
Rankings: Coaches-22; AP-22
Last Game: lost to Michigan, 45-17
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 38-15/4th year
vs. Iowa: 0-0
Record: 7-4, 4-3
Rankings: Coaches-NR; AP-NR
Last Game: def. Purdue, 31-21
Coach: Kirk Ferentz
Career | Iowa Record: 108-85/16th year | 96-64/13th year
vs. NU: 0-2
Nebraska closes out the regular season in its traditional day after Thanksgiving matchup on Friday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. With the move to the Big Ten the opponent is different in 2011, as the Huskers will take on Iowa in the inaugural Heroes Game. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CST and the game will be televised nationally on ABC.
The matchup with Iowa will mark the 22nd consecutive season Nebraska has played on the day after Thanksgiving, including six years against Oklahoma from 1990 to 1995, and 15 meetings with Colorado during Nebraska’s run in the Big 12 Conference. Nebraska and Iowa are also scheduled to play on the day following Thanksgiving next year in Iowa City.
Nebraska enters the game with an 8-3 record, including a 4-3 record in the Big Ten Conference, following a 45-17 loss at Michigan on Saturday. The setback eliminated Nebraska from contention in the Legends Division, as Michigan State will be the division representative in the inaugural Big Ten title game on Dec. 3. The loss also dropped the Huskers to 22nd in both the AP and Coaches polls and 21st in the latest BCS rankings.
Iowa comes into the game with a 7-4 record, including a 4-3 Big Ten mark following a 31-21 victory at Purdue on Saturday. The Hawkeyes feature a high-octane offense, averaging nearly 390 yards per game, including 241.3 passing yards per contest.
Friday’s game is the first meeting between the schools as conference foes, but the 42nd all-time matchup. Nebraska holds a 26-12-3 advantage, including a 13-2-1 record against the Hawkeyes in Lincoln. This is the first meeting between the teams since Nebraska won both games in a home-and-home series with Iowa in 1999 and 2000.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 38-15 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.
Iowa: Kirk Ferentz (Connecticut, ‘78) is in his 13th season as the head coach at Iowa and owns a 96-64 record. He is 108-85 overall in his 16th season as a head coach. Ferentz has guided Iowa to nine bowl games, and a pair of Big Ten titles (2002, 2004). For his work, Ferentz has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times.
*-Nebraska is 845-348-40 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.
*-Nebraska's 47 all-time bowl appearances rank fifth nationally.
*-Since 1970, Nebraska has 411 wins, 26 more than any other school.
*-Nebraska's 99 football Academic All-Americans leads the nation.
*-The Huskers have had 107 All-Americans in school history.
Iowa has won two of its last three games and enters Friday’s game with a 7-4 overall record and a 4-3 mark in Big Ten Conference play. The Hawkeyes have lost to three opponents Nebraska has defeated this season (Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State), while beating two teams who defeated the Huskers (Michigan and Northwestern).
The Hawkeyes are led by a strong passing attack that ranks third in the Big Ten with 241.3 yards per game. Quarterback James Vandenberg is completing more than 60 percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,624 yards. He also boasts an impressive 23 touchdown passes to only five interceptions. On the ground, Marcus Coker is the Big Ten’s second-leading rusher with 1,297 yards this season, but the Hawkeyes’ next-leading rusher has only 79 yards on the year.
Defensively, Iowa is allowing 234.0 passing yards per game and 153.8 rushing yards. The Hawkeyes give up an average of 23.6 points per game.
This week’s game marks the 42nd all-time meeting between Nebraska and Iowa, as the Huskers have played the Hawkeyes more than any other Big Ten team other than Minnesota.
The Huskers lead the all-time series with Iowa, 26-12-3. Nebraska owns a 13-2-1 series advantage in Lincoln, including a 10-1-0 edge inside Memorial Stadium. Iowa’s lone win at Memorial Stadium came in 1943.
Nebraska enters its game with Iowa ranked for the seventh straight meeting. In each of the previous six meetings from 1979 to 2000, the Huskers were ranked in the top 10. Overall, NU has been ranked nine times in the 42 all-time meetings including this year, while Iowa has never been ranked while facing the Huskers.
The Huskers have won three straight in the series dating back to 1982, scoring 42 points each time. In the most recent meeting, No. 1 Nebraska defeated Iowa, 42-13 in 2000. The previous year, the Huskers earned a 42-7 win in Iowa City in Kirk Ferentz’s first game as Iowa’s head coach. Before meeting six times from 1979 to 2000, the programs had not played each other since meeting seven straight seasons from 1940 to 1946.
Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
Kirk Ferentz is in his 13th season at Iowa and his 16th season as a head coach overall. His tenure at Iowa is the second-longest in school history behind Hayden Fry. Ferentz is also the dean of active Big Ten coaches with his 13 seasons at Iowa, seven more than Ron Zook, who is in his seventh season at Illinois. Ferentz owns a 96-64 record at Iowa and a 108-85 career record.
A three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, Ferentz has guided the Hawkeyes to four 10-win seasons, nine bowl berths, six bowl wins, five top-25 finishes and two Big Ten championships in his first 12 seasons. The Hawkeyes posted three straight 10-win seasons from 2002 to 2004, finishing with a No. 8 final ranking each year. In 2009, Ferentz led Iowa to its best start ever (9-0) before capping the year with an 11-2 record, a No. 7 national ranking and a victory over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Ferentz’s other head coaching experience came at Maine from 1990 to 1992, when he compiled a 12-21 record. In between head coaching stints, Ferentz spent six seasons as an offensive line coach in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns from 1993 to 1998. His first full-time job in Division I came as Iowa’s offensive line coach from 1981 to 1989.
Ferentz is 0-2 in his head coaching career against Nebraska, suffering losses to the Huskers at home in 1999 and in Lincoln in 2000. The fifth-ranked Huskers’ 42-7 win over the Hawkeyes on Sept. 4, 1999, marked Ferentz’s first game as Iowa’s head coach.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his fourth season as Nebraska’s head coach and owns a 38-15 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 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 38-15 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 37 wins.
*-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 119 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini's defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 37 times and to 20 points or less 79 times.
*-Pelini-led defenses have 231 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 in Inaugural Season in Big Ten Conference
Nebraska officially became the 12th member of the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2011. The Huskers are 4-3 in their first season of Big Ten Conference action.
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 35-8 record against Big Ten opponents since 1970. Before the loss to Northwestern, the Huskers had won nine straight game in Lincoln against conference foes dating back to a 1981 loss to Penn State.
*-Among Big Ten Conference opponents, Nebraska has faced Minnesota the most, taking on the Gophers 51 times. Minnesota holds a 29-21-2 edge in the all-time series, but Nebraska has won the past 15 meetings dating back to 1963, including this year’s 41-14 win in Minneapolis.
*-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.
*-Aside from Minnesota and Iowa, Nebraska had faced the remaining six Big Ten foes on the 2011 schedule a total of 35 times entering the season, led by 13 meetings with Penn State.
Legends and Leaders
The Big Ten Conference is 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 is 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. As of Nov. 20, Nebraska’s schedule was ranked as the nation’s third-most difficult slate and toughest in the Big Ten. The opposition’s winning percentage is .624.
The 2011 schedule featured 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 was 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.
Huskers, Hawkeyes Set for Heroes Game
The HyVee Heroes Game is the annual trophy game between Nebraska, the newest member of the Big Ten Conference, and Iowa, one of the conference’s original members. While both teams will aim to win the trophy on the field, both Nebraska and Iowa wished to make their annual meeting about more than just winning a football game. With that in mind, the schools partnered together to not only create a trophy, but to use a national stage to honor a citizen hero from each state.
In addition to the trophy that will be claimed by the winner of Friday’s game, both an Iowa and Nebraska native will be honored at halftime for extraordinary acts.