Nebraska and Kansas State square off in a Big 12 North Division battle Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, Kan. The game is Nebraska’s final road contest of the 2008 campaign, while Kansas State finishes its schedule with home games against Nebraska and Iowa State (Nov. 22).
Nebraska enters the game with a 6-4 record and a 3-3 Big 12 mark following a 45-35 win over Kansas last week in Lincoln. Kansas State comes into the contest at 4-6 overall and is 1-5 in Big 12 Conference play after a 41-24 setback at Missouri last Saturday night. The Wildcats must win their last two games to qualify for a bowl game, while Nebraska has secured its 38th bowl trip in 40 seasons.
Nebraska holds a commanding 75-15-2 edge in the 92 meetings between the schools, including a 33-7-2 advantage in Manhattan and a 14-4 mark at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kansas State captured five of seven meetings between 1998 and 2004, however, Nebraska has rebounded to win each of the last three meetings. A victory on Saturday in Manhattan would give the Huskers their seventh win streak of at least four games against Kansas State.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) has a 7-4 record in his first season with the Huskers. In addition to six 2008 wins, Pelini led Nebraska to a victory as interim head coach in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. Pelini has served as defensive coordinator at NU, 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.
Kansas State: Ron Prince (Appalachian State, ‘92) is in his third season as Kansas State’s head coach and has a 16-19 mark with the Wildcats. Prior to taking over at K-State, Prince was the offensive coordinator at Virginia. Prince is 0-2 against Nebraska.
Stat of the Week
Nebraska has distributed the ball extremely well this season in the passing game. The Huskers have had at least seven players catch a pass in all 10 games, and 18 players overall have a reception this season.
The Huskers have six players with 20 or more catches, the most in school history, bettering five players with 20-plus catches in 2005 and 2006. In addition, receiver Niles Paul sits at 17 receptions. The record for most players with 30 or more catches in a season is four in both 2006 and 2007.
Nebraska Looks to Even Road Record
Nebraska faces its final road test this Saturday in Manhattan and will look to complete the regular season with a 2-2 record away from Lincoln. The Huskers lost road games against No. 2 Texas Tech and fifth-ranked Oklahoma, while winning at Iowa State.
The win at Iowa State snapped a five-game road losing streak, dating back to last year’s 20-17 victory at Wake Forest. It was also Nebraska’s first Big 12 road win in five tries.
A win over Kansas State in Manhattan would be the Huskers’ second straight at KSU (21-3, 2006) and would give NU a .500 or better road record for just the fourth time in the past eight seasons. A win would also mark NU’s fourth .500 or better record in league play since 2002, and be the first time the Huskers have won back-to-back games in Manhattan since 1994 and 1996. Nebraska lost four straight games at Kansas State from 1998 to 2004.
Nebraska owns a 14-4 all-time record at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Huskers won the first 13 meetings in the facility, before K-State’s streak.
Husker Offense Productive in Red Zone
Nebraska has made the most of its scoring opportunties throughout the season, most notably during Big 12 Conference play. On the year, Nebraska has converted 40-of-45 red-zone opportunities into scores, including 34 touchdowns and six field goals. The 89 percent efficiency mark ties for 15th nationally and is tied for third in the Big 12 Conference.
The Huskers have been even more productive during conference action. Nebraska has traveled inside the 20-yard line 28 times in Big 12 play and put points on the board on 26 occasions. The 92.9 percent success rate ranks first in the Big 12, just ahead of Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Nebraska has been perfect in the red zone seven times in 10 games, including the past two weeks against Oklahoma and Kansas.
Say Helu to Roy
Sophomore I-back Roy Helu Jr. has been put together two outstanding games against Oklahoma and Kansas and shown his ability to be a future star in the Husker offense.
Helu rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries at No. 4 Oklahoma, before enjoying another standout effort against the Jayahwks. Helu ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries against KU, while adding career bests in the receiving department with eight receptions for 61 yards. Helu produced his touchdowns (10 and 52 yards) on consecutive Nebraska offensive plays in the second half, turning a 21-17 NU deficit into a 31-21 advantage.
The back-to-back 100-yard rushing outings marked the first time a Husker back has accomplished that feat in conference play in two seasons. Brandon Jackson topped the century mark in consecutive games against Oklahoma State and Missouri in 2006, on his way to All-Big 12 honors.
Helu leads Nebraska with 566 rushing yards this season, while averaging an impressive 6.9 yards per carry. If Helu were to finish the season averaging 6.9 yards per attempt, it would be the best per carry average by a Husker in seven seasons. In fact, no Husker back with 100 carries or more has finished a season averaging more than six yards per carry since Dan Alexander (6.3 ypg on 182 att.) and Correll Buckhalter (7.1 ypc on 106 att.) each topped that mark in 2000.
Helu has added 20 receptions this season, one of six Huskers with at least 20 catches in 2008.