Nebraska takes to the road for the first time in 2008, as the Huskers travel to seventh-ranked Texas Tech for a 2:10 p.m. contest on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium. The Huskers are 3-2 entering the contest, following a 52-17 loss to Missouri on Saturday in Lincoln. The Red Raiders enter the game with a 5-0 record, following a 58-28 victory at Kansas State on Saturday. The matchup with Texas Tech marks the first time NU has faced back-to-back top-10 opponents in the regular season since battling eighth-ranked Kansas State and No. 7 Colorado on consecutive weekends in 1995.
The matchup will be just the 10th meeting between the two schools, the fewest games for Nebraska against a Big 12 foe. The Huskers hold a 7-2 all-time edge in the series, but Texas Tech has won the past two meetings, most recently a 34-31 victory in Lincoln in 2005. Nebraska holds a 3-1 edge in games played in Lubbock with victories in 1994, 1996 and 2000 and a loss in 2004.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State ‘90) is in his first season with the Huskers. Pelini owns a 4-2 career record. In addition to three 2008 wins, Pelini led Nebraska to a victory as interim head coach in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. Pelini has served as defensive coordinator at Nebraska, Oklahoma and most recently LSU over the past five seasons. Previously, he had stints as an NFL assistant with San Francisco, New England and Green Bay.
Texas Tech: Mike Leach (BYU, ‘83) is in his ninth season as the head coach at Texas Tech and overall as a head coach. Leach owns a 70-37 record with the Red Raiders, including a 2-2 record in four meetings with Nebraska. Leach has guided the Red Raiders to winning seasons and bowl games in each of his nine years in Lubbock.
Huskers Continue Difficult 2008 Slate Against Texas Tech
Nebraska’s 2008 schedule turned up several notches when NU faced Virginia Tech on Sept. 27 and got even more difficult with back-to-back games against top-10 foes Missouri and Texas Tech.The Hokies, Tigers and Red Raiders are among six 2008 opponents that participated in a bowl game last season. Virginia Tech and Missouri are among four 2008 opponents that were ranked in the final top 10 a year ago.
Last year, Nebraska faced 10 bowl teams, including four teams that finished in the top 10, and this year’s schedule is shaping up to be equally difficult.
Six of Nebraska’s 12 regular-season contests are against teams that participated in a bowl game following the 2007 campaign. Among the group are three teams that played in the Bowl Championship Series, including Virginia Tech (Orange), Oklahoma (Fiesta) and Kansas (Orange). Missouri (Cotton), Texas Tech (Gator) and Colorado (Independence) also played in bowl games following last season.
Four of Nebraska’s 2008 opponents finished in the top 10 in the national polls last fall, including Missouri (4-AP, 5–Coaches), Kansas (7), Oklahoma (8) and Virginia Tech (9).
Five Nebraska opponents were ranked in the top 17 in the preseason Associated Press Poll.
NU is one of just four teams in the country scheduled to play three 2007 BCS teams this fall, and one of two teams that will face four foes that were ranked in the final top 10.
In this week’s AP Poll, Nebraska has three remaining games against ranked teams, including two against teams in the top 10–No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas Tech. Nebraska also plays 16th-ranked Kansas.
Including Texas Tech, Nebraska’s six opponents to date in 2008 have a combined record of 25-6 with three of those losses against the Huskers.
Games Against 2007 Top 10 Teams
3–Auburn, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech
Games Against 2007 BCS Teams
3–Nebraska, Auburn, Cincinnati, Florida
Huskers Set to Face Eighth Top-10 Foe in Past Three Seasons
Nebraska's matchup against No. 7 Texas Tech represents the eighth time in the past 30 games dating back to 2006 that the Huskers have squared off against a top-10 ranked team.
Nebraska faced four top-10 foes in 2006 and matched up with No. 1 USC and No. 8 Kansas in 2007, before meeting No. 4 Missouri last week. In addition, Nebraska played at Missouri last season when the Tigers were ranked No. 17, before Mizzou went on to finish No. 4 in the AP poll.
The last time Nebraska faced as many as eight top-10 teams in a shorter period of time was from late in the 1986 season through the 1988 season. In a 27-game stretch, including three bowl games, Nebraska faced 10 top-10 teams. The Huskers were 5-5 in those games.
Overall, Nebraska has faced 12 ranked teams since the start of the 2006 season.
Nebraska is squaring off with top 10 teams in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2006 Big 12 Championship Game (No. 8 Oklahoma) and the 2007 Cotton Bowl (No. 10 Auburn).
The Huskers last played top-10 opponents on back-to-back weekends in the regular season in 1995, when NU defeated No. 8 Kansas State and seventh-ranked Colorado on consecutive Saturdays.
Nebraska Hoping to Find Road Success
Nebraska will be the last Football Bowl Subdivision team to play a road game when the Huskers kick off against Texas Tech in Lubbock. Nebraska’s Oct. 11 road opener is its fourth-latest since World War II.
The Huskers will be looking to snap a four-game road losing streak, dating back to last year’s 20-17 victory at Wake Forest. Nebraska will also attempt to pick up its first road victory over a ranked team since a 28-27 victory at No. 24 Texas A&M in 2006.
The Huskers last defeated a top-10 team on the road when No. 7 NU upendend second-ranked Washington, 27-14, in 1997 in Seattle.
Nebraska is 8-2 in its last 10 road openers, including last year’s win at Wake Forest. The Huskers are 7-5 in conference road openers since the inception of the Big 12 Conference. Nebraska lost its Big 12 road opener at Missouri last season.
Husker Offense Looking for Big Numbers
Nebraska had one of the nation’s most explosive offenses in the second half of the 2007 season. NU finished last year ranked ninth nationally in total offense at 468.3 yards per game, and seventh in passing at 323.8 yards per game. The passing average was a school record, while the total offensive average was Nebraska’s best in a decade.
Many of the key players in that effort returned to the 2008 offense, and early in the season, the unit has shown the ability to again rank among the nation’s best. The Huskers are averaging 410.6 yards per game (40th nationally) and 33.4 points per contest (30th nationally) through five games.
Nebraska boasts impressive numbers over the past several games dating back to last season.
Nebraska has gained 400 total yards or more in seven of the past 10 games.
The Huskers have passed for at least 200 yards in the past 10 games, with five 300-yard games in that stretch.
The Huskers are averaging 481.1 yards per game over their past eight games, including 345.3 yards per game through the air. Nebraska is averaging 41.2 points over its past eight games.
Among Nebraska’s offensive explosion to finish last year was a 702-yard day against Kansas State, the 10th-best output in school history and the best since 1995.
Nebraska has shown the ability to put points on the scoreboard quickly. In 2008, Nebraska has produced nine touchdown drives that have lasted 2:00 or less, and nine touchdown drives that have taken five plays or less.
In the season opener against Western Michigan, Nebraska’s five touchdown drives covered an average of more than 65 yards, but it took the Huskers an average of just 4.4 plays and only 1:38 to find the end zone. Against the Broncos, four of NU’s five touchdown drives took less than two minutes, including each of the final three TD drives, when Nebraska found the end zone in 47, 37 and 37 seconds, respectively. Nebraska scored in four plays or less on four of its five touchdown drives, including a two-play, 74-yard scoring march on its final touchdown drive.
Quarterback Joe Ganz has directed the Husker offense to nine touchdown drives under one minute in the last six games. Overall, the senior has guided the offense to 12 touchdown drives under one minute in his eight career starts.
Henery Among Nation’s Most Accurate Kickers
Sophomore place-kicker Alex Henery tied a Memorial Stadium record against Western Michigan, as he booted four field goals in the Huskers’ win. The four field goals, each of which came from 44 yards, not only tied the Memorial Stadium record, but ranked second all-time at Nebraska for most field goals in a game. It also marked just the second time in school history that a kicker has connected on four field goals of 40 yards or more (NCAA record is 5).
The strong performance to open 2008 came on the heels of Henery’s perfect kicking season in 2007. A year ago, he made all eight of his field-goal attempts, while connecting on 45-of-45 PATs. Henery suffered his first career missed kick against New Mexico State, but hit on all five PATs against the Aggies and added a 19-yard field goal late in the contest.
Henery nailed a career-long 48-yard field goal against Virginia Tech, bettering his 44-yarders in the opener. He also hit three PAT attempts against the Hokies.
Henery is now 15-of-16 on field goals in his career, including 6-of-7 in 2008. His 12 straight made field goals was the most ever to start a Nebraska career and fell just five shy of the NU school record for consecutive field goals made.
Henery is 20-of-20 on extra points this season and a perfect 65-of-65 in his career.