GAME 11: MINNESOTA at NEBRASKA
NOV. 17, 2012 | MEMORIAL STADIUM
LINCOLN, NEB. | 2:30 p.m. (CT)
TV - BTN
RADIO - Husker Sports Network
SATELLITE RADIO - Sirius Channel 113, XM 193
INTERNET RADIO - Huskers.com
Record: 8-2, 5-1 Big Ten
Rankings: Coaches-14; AP-16; BCS-14
Last Game: def. Penn State, 32-23
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 47-18/5th year
vs. Minnesota: 1-0
Record: 6-4, 2-4 Big Ten
Rankings: Coaches-NR; AP-NR
Last Game: def. Illinois, 17-3
Coach: Jerry Kill
Career/UM Record: 136-86/17th year | 9-13/2nd year
vs. Nebraska: 0-1
Nebraska completes its home schedule on Saturday afternoon when the Huskers take on Minnesota in a Big Ten Legends Division matchup at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for shortly after 2:30 p.m. CT and the game will be televised on BTN.
The Huskers improved to 8-2 on the season and 5-1 in Big Ten Conference play with a 32-23 comeback victory over Penn State on Saturday in Lincoln. Nebraska trailed by two touchdowns at halftime before rallying to win, marking the fourth time in 2012 NU has rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit to win. The win kept Nebraska in a tie for first place in the Legends Division race with Michigan, and Nebraska can advance to Indianapolis for the Dec. 1 Big Ten title game with victories in its final two contests.
Nebraska moved up to 14th in the Coaches Poll this week and 16th in the Associated Press poll, while checking in at No. 14 in the latest BCS rankings.
Minnesota comes into Lincoln with a 6-4 overall record and a 2-4 mark in Big Ten play, following a 17-3 win at Illinois last Saturday. The Gophers are bowl eligible for the first time since 2009 in their second season under Head Coach Jerry Kill. MInnesota features a stout defense that ranks 25th nationally, allowing 336.8 yards per game.
The contest will mark Senior Day at Memorial Stadium, with 29 Husker seniors playing for the final time in Lincoln.
Minnesota is Nebraska’s most frequent opponent among Big Ten Conference schools, with Saturday’s meeting marking the 53rd all-time matchup between the teams. Minnesota holds a 29-21-2 advantage in the series between the two schools, but Nebraska has won each of the past 15 matchups dating back to 1963. Nebraska is 9-8 against the Gophers in Lincoln, with the last meeting at Memorial Stadium coming in 1990.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 47-18 record (.723) in his fifth season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first four seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat. Pelini is one of only six first-time head coaches in NCAA history to win at least nine games in each of his first four seasons at a BCS conference school.
Minnesota: Jerry Kill (Southwestern College, ‘83) holds a 136-86 record in his 18th season overall as a collegiate head coach and is 9-13 in his second season on the Gopher sideline. Before taking over the Minnesota job, Kill served as the head coach at Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Emporia State and Saginaw Valley State.
Minnesota is 6-4 on the season and 2-4 in Big Ten Conference play after winning at Illinois last weekend. The victory over the Fighting Illini made Minnesota bowl eligible and was the first conference road win under second-year head coach Jerry Kill. The Golden Gophers began their conference season with three straight losses, but they have rebounded to win two of their last three Big Ten games.
Offensively, Minnesota is one of seven schools in the country to start three different quarterbacks this season. Returning starter MarQueis Gray started the first three games, before Max Shortell started the next three games. True freshman Philip Nelson has started the last four games under center, leading Minnesota to two victories. On the season, Nelson is a dual threat who is averaging 153.8 passing yards per game and 41.2 rushing yards.
The Golden Gophers rank 96th nationally in total offense and 92nd in scoring offense.
Defensively, Minnesota ranks 25th nationally in total defense and 30th in scoring defense. The Golden Gophers have been tough against the pass, allowing only 168.8 yards per game to rank seventh nationally. Michael Carter ranks in a tie for sixth nationally with 16 passes defended, including 14 breakups and two interceptions.
Minnesota also boasts one of the top kick returners in NCAA history. Troy Stoudermire is the Big Ten record holder with 3,359 career kickoff return yards, and he enters Saturday’s game needing 158 yards to set the NCAA record for career kickoff return yards. Defensively, Stoudermire leads the team with 63 tackles this season.
Although Minnesota leads the all-time series, 29-21-2, Nebraska has won the last 15 meetings dating back to 1963. The Huskers’ current 15-game win streak is the longest for either team in series history. Nebraska is 9-8 all-time against Minnesota in Lincoln, including an 8-7 record inside Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska enters Saturday’s matchup ranked in the top 20 for the 11th consecutive meeting. During the Huskers’ 15-game win streak, Minnesota has scored more than two touchdowns only once, while being shut out five times and being held to seven points or less nine times. NU’s offense has had much more success, averaging 39.6 points per game during the win streak. The Huskers have scored at least 35 points in each of the last 11 meetings with Minnesota, including more than 40 points in seven of the last eight meetings.
Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill
In just his second season at Minnesota, Jerry Kill has the Golden Gophers bowl eligible. Minnesota enters Saturday’s game with a 6-4 record, one year after the Gophers finished 3-9 in Kill’s first season. Kill owns a 9-13 record at Minnesota and a career record of 136-86 in 18 seasons as a college head coach.
Kill is in his fifth head coaching job at the collegiate level and sixth overall. He was the FCA National Coach of the Year in 2010 at Northern Illinois, the 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and the 2004 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year at Southern Illinois. Before taking the Minnesota job, Kill spent three years at Northern Illinois, posting a 23-16 record from 2008 to 2010. Before that, Kill led Southern Illinois to a 55-32 record from 2001 to 2007. He spent two seasons at Emporia State in 1999 and 2000, posting an 11-11 record. Kill’s first collegiate head coaching job came at Saginaw Valley State from 1994 to 1998, when he posted a 38-14 record. He also spent three seasons as the head coach at Webb City (Mo.) High School, coaching future Husker All-American Grant Wistrom as a freshman in 1990, Kill’s final season at the school.
Kill’s only work as an assistant coach came in two stints at Pittsburg (Kan.) State. He served as the Gorillas’ defensive coordinator from 1985 to 1987 and as the offensive coordinator from 1991 to 1993.
Four Straight Nine-Win Seasons
Nebraska finished 9-4 in 2011 to secure its fourth straight nine-win season under Head Coach Bo Pelini. The current streak of four straight nine-win seasons puts Nebraska in an elite class nationally. Nebraska needs one more victory in 2012 to extend its streak to five straight seasons.
- The four 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 of eight schools with nine wins or more each season from 2008 to 2011, joining TCU, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Alabama and West Virginia. Among that group, Oregon and Alabama have already reached nine wins in 2012, while TCU, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia all have six wins or fewer at this point in the season.
- Nebraska has 46 nine-win seasons in school history, including 39 since 1969.
Husker Seniors to Play Final Game at Memorial Stadium
Nebraska will have 29 seniors who will play in their final game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The 29-man senior class is Nebraska’s largest since also having 29 seniors in 2007. This group of seniors marks the first senior class that was entirely signed by Head Coach Bo Pelini, who took over as head coach in December of 2007. The senior class has helped Nebraska to 46 victories over the past five seasons
- Among the 29-man senior class, 24 are fifth-year seniors. Three players (Burkhead, Martin, Mangieri) did not redshirt while two others (Carter, Stafford) joined the program from the junior-college ranks.
- The senior class includes 14 in-state players from Nebraska and a total of 10 states are represented in the senior class.
- The senior class has helped Nebraska to 46 victories over the past five seasons.
- Nebraska has played in four consecutive bowl games with this senior class, and has appeared in two conference championship games.
- Seven members of the senior class have already earned their undergraduate degree and another 13 are on track to pick up their degree in December.
Minnesota Contest to Be Osborne's Last Home Game as NU Athletic Director
Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne will also be taking part in his final game in an official capacity on Saturday against Minnesota. In September, Osborne announced that he will retire as Nebraska’s Athletic Director as of Jan. 1, 2013.
Osborne first joined the Nebraska football program as an assistant coach in various roles on Bob Devaney’s staff from 1962 to 1972. He was then named head coach beginning with the 1973 season, and held that position for 25 seasons, culminating with the 1997 campaign. Osborne has now served as Athletic Director since October of 1997.
Overall, Saturday’s game against Minnesota will mark the 500th all-time game in which Osborne has been associated with the Husker football program in an official capacity. Nebraska is 403-91-5 in the 499 games.
The Nebraska Athletic Department will honor Osborne with several tributes throughout Saturday’s game.
Husker Players Fill National Award Watch Lists
Several Huskers earned preseason recognition entering the 2012 season. Highlighting the list of honorees were seniors Rex Burkhead and Brett Maher, who both earned preseason All-America honors from Athlon. Burkhead was a second-team running back selection, while Maher was a second-team kicker. Burkhead also earned second-team preseason All-America honors from Sports Illustrated.
Burkhead earned recognition as one of 50 players on the Walter Camp Award watch list and one of 65 players on the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award watch lists. The Walter Camp and Maxwell awards are presented annually to the nation’s player of the year, while the Doak Walker Award honors the nation’s top running back.
In addition to his preseason All-America recognition, Maher was named to the watch lists for the Ray Guy and Lou Groza awards. A native of Kearney, Neb., Maher was one of only two kickers nationally to be named to the watch list for both the Guy and Groza awards, which honor the nation’s top punter and place-kicker, respectively.
Among current watch lists, sophomore I-back Ameer Abdullah is one of 12 semifinalists for “The Jet” award, which recognizes the nation’s top returner and is named in honor of former Husker Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers. Abdullah also earned a spot on the Paul Hornung Award watch list, an award given to the most versatile player in college football. Defensive end Cameron Meredith earned a spot on the Ted Hendricks Award mid-season watch list for the second straight year, an award given to the nation’s best defensive end. Quarterback Taylor Martinez has been named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week four times in 2012.
Huskers Go for Perfect Home Season Against Minnesota
Nebraska’s 32-23 win over Penn State in Lincoln last Saturday improved Nebraska to 6-0 at home in 2012, marking the Huskers’ first 6-0 home start since the 2003 season. A win on Saturday over Minnesota would give Nebraska a perfect home season for the first time since going 8-0 at Memorial Stadium in 2001. Nebraska has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons in school history.
The Huskers have won 15 of 16 home games overall dating back to the 2010 season. Nebraska went 6-1 at home in both 2010 and 2011.
Huskers Hoping To Continue November to Remember
Nebraska has posted two memorable victories to begin the month of November, rallying from double-digit deficits against both Michigan State and Penn State. The Huskers have extended their overall winning streak to four games with their two wins to start November. Under Head Coach Bo Pelini, Nebraska has had a solid track record in November, posting a 14-4 record in the month, with three of the losses on the road against ranked opponents.
Nebraska posted a nine-game November winning streak from the 2008 to 2010 seasons, its longest winning streak in the month since winning 19 straight from 1992 to 1998.
Nebraska Continues to Show Ability to Rally
Nebraska has put together four significant comebacks to earn four of its five Big Ten victories in 2012. In a 30-27 victory over Wisconsin on Sept. 29, Nebraska rallied from a 27-10 second-half deficit to secure a win. That rally tied for the second-largest comeback in school history.
The Huskers trailed at Northwestern 28-16 in the fourth quarter, but two late TD drives allowed Nebraska to escape Evanston with a 29-28 victory. The rally from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit tied the largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history. NU also rallied from 12 down in the final quarter at Missouri in 2009 and at Colorado in 1966.
Nebraska put together a similar rally to pull out a 28-24 win at Michigan State. NU trailed 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter before staging a dramatic comeback. The rally was capped by a nine-play, 80-yard game-winning TD drive, culminated by a Taylor Martinez to Jamal Turner touchdown connection with six seconds remaining.
The latest comeback was against Penn State. Nebraska trailed 20-6 at halftime, before scoring two touchdowns in the first 5:23 of the second half to key a rally for a 32-23 win.
The comeback against Penn State marked the third time in six games that the Huskers have rallied from 12 points or more to win. Prior to the last six games, the Huskers had produced just six 12-point or more second-half comebacks in school history.
According to STATS LLC, Nebraska’s four second-half double-digit comebacks in 2012 not only lead the nation, but represent one of just four times since 1996 that an FBS team has posted as many as four double-digit second-half comebacks. North Carolina State had six such comebacks in 2000, while NU is one of three with four comebacks.
The four second-half double-digit comebacks in 2012 is also the most in school history.
Fourth-Quarter Dominance Leading to Big Ten Success
Nebraska has had four dramatic second-half comebacks in Big Ten play. A closer look inside the numbers reveals that Nebraska has dominated the opposition in the final quarter in its five Big Ten victories against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State.
- Nebraska has outscored the five opponents 49-14 in the fourth quarter.
- Nebraska has out-gained the four opponents by an average of 139-47 in the fourth quarter. The Huskers have averaged 22.4 plays in the fourth quarter of those victories, compared to just 12 plays for the opponents. Against Michigan State, Nebraska ran 31 fourth-quarter plays to just 13 for the Spartans.
- Nebraska has an 8-3 edge in average fourth-quarter first downs. Against Michigan State, Nebraska had a 12-1 advantage in fourth-quarter first downs.
- Nebraska averages 9:31 time of possession in the fourth quarter compared to 5:29 for the opposition.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez has keyed Nebraska’s fourth-quarter comebacks at Northwestern and Michigan State. In the final 15 minutes against the Wildcats, Martinez accounted for 147 total yards, completing 10-of-14 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
At Michigan State, Martinez accounted for 176 yards of total offense, throwing for 108 yards and one touchdown and rushing for 68 yards and one score. In the two fourth-quarter road comebacks at Northwestern and Michigan State, Martinez combined for 323 yards of total offense, three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
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.