A Cornhusker Thanksgiving tradition continues on Friday afternoon, as Nebraska travels to Boulder, Colo., for its regular-season finale against Colorado. The game marks the 20th straight season the Huskers have played on the day after Thanksgiving, including 14 meetings with Colorado.
Nebraska enters the game with an 8-3 overall record and a 5-2 record in Big 12 play, following a 17-3 triumph over Kansas State in Lincoln last Saturday night. The victory clinched the Big 12 North Division crown for Nebraska and secured a trip to the Dec. 5 Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, Texas, where the Huskers will face third-ranked Texas.
Colorado enters the game with a 3-8 record and a 2-5 mark in Big 12 action. The Buffs have been solid at home in Big 12 play, winning two of three contests. Colorado is coming off a 31-28 loss at Oklahoma State last Thursday evening, and will have two more days than Nebraska to prepare for Friday's contest.
Nebraska holds a commanding 47-18-2 all-time edge in the series between the two schools, including a 22-10-2 advantage in Boulder. Nebraska has won six of the past eight meetings in Boulder, but did lose in its last trip to Folsom Field in 2007. This is the 14th straight season the schools have met on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, '90) owns an 18-7 record in his second season with the Huskers. Pelini guided Nebraska to nine wins in his first season as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich as the only Nebraska coaches to win nine games in their first season leading the Cornhuskers. Prior to taking over as the Huskers' head coach, Pelini served as defensive coordinator at NU, Oklahoma and LSU. Previously, he had stints as an NFL assistant with San Francisco, New England and Green Bay.
Colorado: Dan Hawkins (UC-Davis, '84) is in his fourth season as Colorado's head coach and owns a 16-32 record with the Buffaloes. Hawkins is in his 14th season overall as a head coach and has a 108-55-1 overall record. Hawkins is 1-2 against Nebraska.
Huskers Look to Continue Big 12 Road Success
Nebraska travels to Colorado on Friday to close out the regular season. A victory would allow Nebraska to complete Big 12 road play with a perfect 4-0 record. It would also mark Nebraska's fifth straight road victory in conference play, including a 56-28 win at Kansas State to close out the 2008 road slate.
- Nebraska has not won five straight Big 12 road games since winning its first eight road games when the Big 12 Conference was formed in 1996 and 1997. Nebraska won 19 straight league road games from 1992 to 1997 (Big Eight and Big 12).
- Nebraska has already posted three road wins for just the sixth time in the first 14 seasons of the Big 12
Conference. A win over Colorado would give Nebraska a 4-0 Big 12 road record for the first time since 1997.
- Each of the victories in Nebraska's four-game Big 12 road win streak has been by at least 10 points.
Huskers Capture Big 12 North, Set for Trip to Arlington
Nebraska has earned a trip to the Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship Game for the fifth time in the 14-year history of the Big 12 Conference. The Huskers' 17-3 win over Kansas State improved Nebraska to 5-2 in conference play, 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Kansas State. Nebraska will square off against third-ranked Texas in the league title game which is set for Dec. 5 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
- Nebraska has also played in the Big 12 title game in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2006. The five Big 12 title game appearances are the most for any North Division school, and ties Texas for the second-most appearances in the game. Only Oklahoma (7) has played in more Big 12 title games. Nebraska is 2-2 in its four previous title game appearances winning the league crown in 1997 and 1999.
- In addition to its appearances in the conference title game, Nebraska has also tied for the North Division crown in 2001 and 2008.
- The Nebraska-Texas matchup will be the third in five conference title games for Nebraska (also 1996 and 1999). NU has also faced Texas A&M (1997) and Oklahoma (2006) in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Nebraska Looking for Fifth Consecutive Big 12 Win
Nebraska enters Friday's game with a four-game winning streak in Big 12 action, having defeated Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas and Kansas State in successive weeks since a two-game losing streak in October. The four-game conference winning streak marks just the second time since 2001 that Nebraska has won four straight conference games.
- Nebraska's four straight wins matches its streak that included wins in its final three conference games last year and over Missouri in the 2009 Big 12 opener. However, this marks the first time Nebraska has won four straight Big 12 games in the same season since NU won its first seven Big 12 games in 2001.
They Remember What You Do in November
Last season, Nebraska clearly played its best football in the month of November, winning its final three regular season games against Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado.
In 2009, Nebraska has again hit its stride as fall begins to turn to winter. The Huskers have defeated Oklahoma, Kansas and Kansas State in November to capture the Big 12 North crown.
- Nebraska owns a 6-1 record in games played in November under Head Coach Bo Pelini. Nebraska's lone November loss under Pelini was at No. 4 Oklahoma on Nov. 1, 2008.
- NU is 8-1 under Pelini in games played on or after Nov. 1, including last year's Jan. 1 Gator Bowl victory and the 2003 Alamo Bowl win over Michigan State when Pelini was the interim head coach.
Nebraska's six-game November win streak is the program's longest since winning 19 straight games in November from 1992 to 1998.
Nebraska Looks to Resume Success in Boulder
Nebraska owns a 20-9-2 advantage in games played at Folsom Field. Despite a 65-51 loss to Colorado in Boulder in 2007, NU has had good success in Boulder, winning six of the past eight meetings in the Rockies.
The Huskers' success in Boulder has been due in large part to outstanding offensive production. The Huskers have topped 30 points in each of the past five meetings in Boulder. Overall, Nebraska has scored 30 or more points in eight of the past 10 meetings between the two schools, including at least 37 points in the past three meetings. The teams have combined for 187 points in the past two meetings, and the winning team has scored at least 26 points in the past 10 matchups.
Nebraska, Buffs Continue Post-Turkey Day Tradition
Nebraska and Colorado have met the day after Thanksgiving each year since the start of Big 12 Conference play in 1996. In the 13 meetings since the series moved to a Friday date, Nebraska holds a 9-4 advantage, including a 4-2 edge in Boulder. Last season's 40-31 Nebraska victory was indicative of the series which has produced a number of close results on Thanksgiving weekend.
- In the 13 meetings on Thanksgiving Friday, eight of the games have been decided by nine points or less, with Nebraska owning a 7-1 record in those contests.
- For Nebraska, Friday's game marks the 20th straight season Nebraska has played on the day after Thanksgiving. NU met Oklahoma the final six seasons of Big Eight play (1990-95) on the day after Thanksgiving, posting a 5-1 record in those games.
-This year's game marks the first time Nebraska has played on the Friday after Thanksgiving without a bye week since playing at Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Friday in 1973, six days after playing at Kansas State.
- Nebraska's post-Thanksgiving game has been nationally televised by ABC each of the past 19 years (1991-2009).
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Hansen did not play the first four games of the season, but saw action for the first time in Colorado's 38-14 loss at Texas on Oct. 10, while junior Cody Hawkins struggled in a 6-of-18 passing effort with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Hansen has started the last six games and achieved a better pass percentage than Hawkins (57.8 to 50.6) with completions on 108-of-187 pass attempts. Hansen has a 5-to-4 touchdown to interception ratio and has thrown for a total of 1,171 yards. Against Oklahoma State last Thursday, Hansen injured his thumb in the second quarter and the quarterback duo shared playing time in Colorado's 31-28 loss. Hansen returned and finished 23-of-36 (169 yds) with two touchdowns, while Hawkins was 7-of-11 (69 yards) with one touchdown.
Sophomore Rodney Stewart is the Buffs' primary tailback. Stewart is averaging 69.4 yards per game on the ground and has nine touchdowns this season, including four 100-yard rushing games. He had just eight carries against Oklahoma State, the least rushes since Colorado's season-opening loss to Colorado State on Sept. 6. Junior wide receiver Scotty McKnight has been one of the Buffs' most reliable options at wideout the past three season. This season, McKnight leads the team in receptions (69), receiving yards (779) and receiving yards per game (70.8) to go along with four touchdowns. McKnight has a reception in all 36 career games at Colorado.
Senior linebacker Jeff Smart leads Colorado with 87 tackles, but senior cornerback Cha'pelle Brown may be the biggest force on the Buff defense. Brown has seven tackles for loss, including three sacks, and a total of 85 tackles.
Brown tied his season high was 10 tackles against Oklahoma State last week. Colorado is giving up 29.4 points per game in Big 12 action, and has allowed at least 30 points to each league opponent at Folsom Field this season.
Junior placekicker Aric Goodman is 10-of-16 on field goals with a season-long of 54 yards. Goodman is a perfect 7-of-7 from 20-39 yards, but just 3-of-9 from 40+ yards.
Sophomore wide receiver Jason Espinoza is CU's primary punt returner, taking 21 punts for an average fo 3.1 yards.
His longest return of the season is 15 yards. McKnight has also returned five punts this season.
Last Year's Matchup
On a strange Senior Day, a sophomore and a junior stole the show for the Huskers in a thrilling 40-31 come-from behind win over Colorado on Nov. 29, 2008 in Lincoln.
The Huskers trailed 31-27 entering the final quarter before rallying for their third straight victory. Alex Henery cut the lead to 31-30 with a 37-yard field goal, before Nebraska drove downfield late looking to escape with a victory.
Henery came back out and put NU in front for good by booting a 57-yard field goal with just 1:43 remaining, the longest field goal in Nebraska and Memorial Stadium history. Ndamukong Suh made sure Henery's field goal would hold up when he intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Suh's third touchdown of the season capped the third-largest comeback in Nebraska
history, as NU trailed 14-0 early after a barrage of big plays from the Buffaloes.
Offensively, Joe Ganz joined Henery as a new Nebraska record holder. Ganz threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns on the day, to give him an NU record 3,332 yards passing this season. He eclipsed Zac Taylor as the single-season leading passer in Husker history with a 53-yard touchdown pass to Mike McNeill in the first quarter.