Nebraska enters the game with a 4-1 record after a 48-17 loss at No. 7 Wisconsin on Saturday night. The loss marked just the third time in the past 37 years that Nebraska has lost its conference opener. The setback also dropped Nebraska to 14th in the Associated Press Poll and 15th in the USA Today Coaches poll this week.
Ohio State is 3-2 in 2011 following a 10-7 loss to Michigan State on Saturday afternoon in Columbus. Both Nebraska and Ohio State will be looking to avoid a rare 0-2 conference start. Nebraska has started conference play with two losses just one time since 1968. The Buckeyes have won at least a share of the past six Big Ten Conference championships entering 2011 and have not started Big Ten play 0-2 since 2004, the last time OSU did not win a conference crown.
In addition to the first-ever Big Ten game at Memorial Stadium, Saturday's contest is also Homecoming in Lincoln.
Nebraska and Ohio State are meeting for just the third time and the first time in Lincoln. The Buckeyes own a 2-0 edge with a pair of victories in Columbus. Sixth-ranked Ohio State defeated Nebraska, 28-20, in 1955 and the No. 8 Buckeyes beat Nebraska, 34-7, in 1956. Nebraska has played every other Big Ten school more recently than Ohio State.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, '90) owns a 34-13 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.
Ohio State: Luke Fickell (Ohio State, '97) owns a 3-2 record in his first season as Ohio State's head coach. Fickell had previously served as a Buckeye assistant from 2002 to 2010, before being named head coach in May. Fickell played at Ohio State, starting a school-record 50 straight games from 1993 to 1996.
- Nebraska is 841-346-40 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 407 wins, 25 more than any other school.
- Nebraska's 99 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation.
- The Huskers have had 107 All-Americans in school history.
Noting Game 5...Wisconsin 48, Nebraska 17
*-Nebraska's 48-17 loss marked just the third time in the past 37 seasons Nebraska has dropped its conference opener. The 31-point loss was Nebraska's largest margin of defeat since a 62-28 loss at Oklahoma in 2008. Wisconsin's 48 points were the most by a Nebraska opponent since Oklahoma scored 62 points against the Huskers in 2008.
*-Nebraska scored 17 points, ending a streak of four straight games topping 30 points to open the year. The 2011 season marked only the second time since 1995 that Nebraska scored 30 or more points in its first four games.
*-Junior I-back Rex Burkhead rushed 18 times for 96 yards, including a one-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Burkhead has rushed for eight touchdowns in five games this season.
*-Nebraska freshman receiver Jamal Turner caught five passes for 84 yards, including a 28-yarder in the second quarter. Both marks were career highs. It marked the fourth straight game Turner has had two or more receptions.
*-Nebraska rushed for 159 yards, including 60 before halftime and 99 in the second half. Nebraska dropped to 0-5 the past two seasons when being limited to less than 200 rushing yards. NU is 14-0 when it has run for 200 yards the past two seasons. Nebraska had topped 200 rushing yards in each of the first four games this season.
*-Senior linebacker Lavonte David had two sacks for 15 yards, both in the first half, marking the second multi-sack game of David's career. He also had two sacks against Kansas last season in Lincoln. David added another tackle for loss, tying his career high with 3 TFLs. With his seven tackles overall, David pushed his career tackle total to 197.
*-Nebraska had four offensive plays of 20 yards or more, giving the Huskers 27 plays of that length this season.
*-Nebraska junior tight end Ben Cotton caught a career-long 28-yard pass in the second quarter to set up a Nebraska touchdown. His previous career long was 27 yards against Chattanooga in the season opener.
*-Nebraska senior defensive tackle Jared Crick blocked an extra point in the second quarter, marking his second career blocked kick. He also blocked a field goal against Florida Atlantic in 2009. Crick added five tackles in the game.
*-Nebraska converted 3-of-4 red-zone opportunities into scores, including two touchdowns and one field goal. Nebraska entered the night 20-of-21 in the red zone with the only failed attempt when NU downed the ball inside the Wyoming 5 at the end of a 38-14 win. The Huskers are now 23-of-25 in the red zone this season.
*-Nebraska scored a touchdown in each of the first two quarters, but did not reach the end zone in the third quarter, ending a streak of 14 consecutive quarters of scoring a touchdown.
*-Nebraska committed three turnovers, with Wisconsin turning those miscues into 21 points, including 21 straight points in the second quarter and early in the third quarter. Nebraska turned one Wisconsin turnover into seven points.
*-Nebraska had a season-high nine penalties for 80 yards, after entering the contest averaging just 4.5 penalties per contest.
Scouting Ohio State
Ohio State brings a 3-2 record to Lincoln, including an 0-1 mark in Big Ten Conference play. The Buckeyes are on the road for just the second time this season, after losing 24-6 at Miami in the third game of the year. Last week, OSU opened Big Ten play with a 10-7 loss at home against Michigan State.
The Buckeyes have won 16 of their last 19 Big Ten games dating back to 2008, with two of the three losses coming on the road in the month of October (at Wisconsin in 2010 and at Purdue in 2009). Although Big Ten divisions didn't exist before this season, Ohio State has not lost to a member of the Legends Division since a 33-7 setback at Iowa on Oct. 16, 2004.
Ohio State welcomes back four players to the field. Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, DeVier Posey and Solomon Thomas are available to play for the first time this season, after sitting out the first five games. Adams, Herron and Posey were all starters last season. Adams is a two-year starter at left tackle and was an All-Big Ten selection in 2010, while Herron ran for more than 1,000 yards last season as an All-Big Ten running back and Posey was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection.
The return of Adams, Herron and Posey should provide a boost to a Buckeye offense that is averaging only 308.2 yards per game this season and 23.8 points per contest. Ohio State has used two quarterbacks this season, including true freshman Braxton Miller, who made his second straight start against Michigan State last Saturday. Senior Joe Bauserman started the Buckeyes' first two games and led Ohio State on its only scoring drive last weekend against the Spartans.
Both quarterbacks are completing 51.3 percent of their passes, but Bauserman has thrown for nearly 200 more yards, two more touchdowns and two fewer interceptions. Miller has been better on the ground, rushing for nearly 100 more yards than Bauserman. Overall, OSU boasts a balanced offense, averaging 154.2 rushing yards and 154.0 passing yards per game.
Defensively, Ohio State is allowing an average of only 14.6 points per game. The Buckeyes rank 23rd nationally against the run, allowing opponents an average of only 3.2 yards per rush and fewer than 100 yards per game. Through the air, opponents have completed 55.5 percent of their passes against Ohio State and are averaging nearly 200 passing yards per game.
Nebraska and Ohio State have met only twice, with the Buckeyes winning both meetings. The Huskers traveled to Columbus in consecutive seasons in the 1950s, falling 28-20 to No. 6 Ohio State in 1955 and losing 34-7 to the No. 8 Buckeyes in 1956.
OSU is playing its first game in Memorial Stadium, joining previous Husker opponents Chattanooga and Fresno State as first-time visitors to Lincoln in 2011. The Buckeyes are one of three Big Ten schools that have never played inside Memorial Stadium, joining Michigan and Purdue. Since 1962, Nebraska is 16-1 against current Big Ten teams at Memorial Stadium, with the Huskers' lone loss coming to Penn State in 1981, when the Nittany Lions were not yet a member of the Big Ten.
Ohio State Head Coach Luke Fickell
Luke Fickell was named Ohio State's head coach on May 30, 2011. In his first season as a head coach, the 38-year old has guided the Buckeyes to a 3-2 record. Overall, this season marks Fickell's 10th year on the Ohio State coaching staff. He previously served as co-defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2010, as linebackers coach in 2004 and as special teams coordinator in 2002 and 2003. A Columbus, Ohio, native, Fickell's other collegiate coaching experience came as the defensive line coach at Akron in 2000 and 2001 and as a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes in 1999.
Honoring Legends. Building Leaders Mobile Tour to Visit Lincoln
The Big Ten Conference Honoring Legends. Building Leaders Mobile Tour will hit its fifth campus visit this week when it visits Lincoln beginning on Thursday. The tour highlights the new Big Ten Football Championship Trophy and launched in late August from the Big Ten offices in Park Ridge, Ill.
The mobile tour is intended to entertain and educate fans about the new era of Big Ten football and the exciting road ahead - two divisions, the championship weekend in Indianapolis, 18 new trophies and the path to the Rose Bowl or BCS National Championship Game.
The tour stops at a different campus each week, from Thursday through game day on Saturday, and will contain interactive activities, including the opportunity for fans to have their picture taken with the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy. The tour will also feature television sets on site for fans to keep up with other games around the conference.
More information on the tour can be found at the Big Ten Mobile Tour Blog (www.bigten.org/blog/mobile-tour), Twitter page (@B1GMobileTour) and YouTube page (www.YouTube.com/B1GMobileTour).
Huskers Look for Homecoming Success
The meeting with Ohio State will serve as Homecoming in Lincoln and marks Nebraska's 101st all-time Homecoming game. After facing a non-conference opponent on Homecoming in each of the past two seasons, the Huskers return to playing a conference opponent.
4Nebraska boasts an all-time record of 74-22-4 (.760) in Homecoming games, including a 67-16-3 mark against conference opponents. From 1955 to 2008, the Huskers faced a conference opponent on Homecoming every season.
4Nebraska won 36 straight Homecoming games from 1969 to 2004. Since then, the Huskers have lost three of their last six Homecoming games. Bo Pelini is 2-1 on Homecoming in his career, including two straight wins.
4The 1962 Homecoming game between Nebraska and Missouri was a memorable meeting, even though the Tigers prevailed 16-7. That contest marked the start of Nebraska's ongoing NCAA-record consecutive home sellout streak, which reaches 315 against Ohio State. During the sellout streak, NU has won 44 of its 49 Homecoming contests.
Pelini Set to Face Alma Mater
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini is a graduate of Ohio State and was a four-year letterwinner as a defensive back for the Buckeyes under Earle Bruce and John Cooper from 1987 to 1990.
Pelini started in the Buckeye secondary his final two seasons, was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and was a co-captain as a senior. Pelini received the "Bo Rein Award" as a senior, given to the teams' most inspirational player. Pelini graduated from Ohio State with a degree in business administration in 1990.
Saturday's game will mark the third time Pelini has coached against his alma mater. In 1991, Pelini was a graduate assistant for an Iowa team that defeated Ohio State, 16-9, in Columbus. After taking the Nebraska head job in December of 2007, Pelini completed his role as defensive coordinator at LSU, helping guide the Tigers to a 38-24 victory over OSU in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.
Pelini Among Numerous Ohio Connections in Nebraska Program
Bo Pelini's connections to the Ohio State program and the state of Ohio, is one of many among the Nebraska football program. The Youngstown, Ohio, native has six players on his roster who are Ohio natives, along with several members of his staff with Ohio ties.
*-Nebraska players who hail from Ohio include: junior WR Tim Marlowe (Youngstown), sophomore FB Mike Marrow (Holland), redshirt freshman center Mark Pelini (Youngstown), freshman RB Braylon Heard (Youngstown), freshman linebacker Max Pirman (Orrville) and freshman defensive tackle Kevin Williams (Holland). Marlowe, Pelini and Heard all played at Cardinal Mooney High School where Pelini starred as a prep. Mark Pelini is the nephew of Bo and Carl Pelini.
*-Several members of the staff have ties to Ohio. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini is also a Cardinal Mooney and Youngstown State graduate and earned a master's degree from Ohio State. He was a prep coach at Fitch High School from 2000 to 2002 and was an assistant on Frank Solich's staff at Ohio University from 2005 to 2007.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck is also a Youngstown native and a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School. Other Ohio natives on the staff include offensive graduate assistant Vince Marrow, defensive graduate manager Ross Watson and director of player personnel Wince Morris. Marrow is a Cardinal Mooney graduate and starred collegiately at Toledo. He also coached at Holland High School in Springfield, Ohio (2009) and at Toledo (2008). Watson is a Youngstown native and played at Mount Union College, while Morris played at Miami (Ohio).
First-year linebackers coach Ross Els spent the previous six seasons as a member of Solich's Ohio staff.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his fourth season as Nebraska's head coach and owns a 34-13 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 34-13 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 34 wins, three more than Navy's Ken Niumatalolo. (see page 12)
- 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 113 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini's defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 36 times and to 20 points or less 74 times.
- Pelini-led defenses have 222 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 began their first season of Big Ten Conference play at Wisconsin last Saturday and host their first-ever Big Ten home game Saturday night against Ohio State.
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 31-6 record against Big Ten opponents since 1970. The Huskers have won seven straight games in Lincoln against conference foes dating back to a 1981 loss to Penn State, an independent at that time.
*-Among Big Ten Conference opponents, Nebraska has faced Minnesota the most, taking on the Gophers 51 times. Minnesota holds a 29-20-2 edge in the all-time series, but Nebraska has won the past 14 meetings dating back to 1963.
*-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.
*-Nebraska has faced the remaining six Big Ten foes on the 2011 schedule a total of 35 times, led by 13 meetings with Penn State.
*-Saturday's game with Ohio State will mark just the third between the schools, and the first in Lincoln. Ohio State defeated Nebraska in Columbus in 1955 and 1956.
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. 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 is 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 Set for Conference Home Opener
Nebraska is hosting its first-ever Big Ten Conference home game against Ohio State. The Huskers have historically been terrific in their first conference home game of the season, posting an all-time record of 84-13-4 (.851).
Nebraska won 30 straight conference home openers from 1978 to 2007, but the Huskers have lost their last three conference home openers to Missouri in 2008, Texas Tech in 2009 and Texas in 2010. Nebraska has not had a four-game losing skid in conference home openers in school history.
Husker Returnees Fill Preseason National Award Watch Lists
Nebraska features several players who ranked among the nation's top returning talent in 2011. Senior defensive tackle Jared Crick, senior linebacker Lavonte David and senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard were all selected as preseason All-Americans by at least one media outlet. Including each member of that trio, a total of eight Huskers have combined for 23 selections to preseason watch lists for a major national award. Nebraska also boasts the returning production of several players who rank among the nation's best.
*-Jared Crick has 20.0 career sacks and 35 career tackles-for-loss. His 20.0 sacks rank third nationally among active players and are tops among interior defensive linemen. Crick's 35 TFLs also rank near the top among interior defensive linemen nationally.
*-Lavonte David set a school record with 152 tackles in his first year as a Husker in 2010, and has opened 2011 with 45 tackles in five games. David's career average of 10.4 tackles per game ranks fourth nationally.
*-Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez rushed for 965 yards last season, the second-highest total by a Husker freshman, regardless of position. Martinez's 2010 rushing total ranked second nationally among returning quarterbacks, trailing only Michigan's Denard Robinson.
*-Martinez and junior I-back Rex Burkhead combined to rush for 1,916 yards last season. That total ranked Martinez and Burkhead as the third-highest returning quarterback-running back rushing tandem in the country. After combining for 137 yards per game last season, the duo has combined for at least 200 rushing yards in four of the first five games and is averaging 199.6 rushing yards per game through five contests.
Huskers Featuring One of Nation's Top Rushing Attacks
Nebraska led the Big 12 and ranked ninth nationally in rushing offense in 2010, averaging 247.6 yards per game. Nebraska's national rushing ranking was its highest since 2003 (7th) and the 247.6 yards per game were its best since averaging 268.7 yards on the ground in 2002. Nebraska did not finish higher than 23rd nationally in rushing between 2004 and 2009. The Huskers are again one of the nation's top running teams in 2011, averaging 249.8 yards per game. Nebraska ranks second in the Big Ten and ninth nationally in that category.
The Huskers topped 200 yards on the ground in each of the first four games, including 309 rushing yards against Washington and 333 rushing yards at Wyoming, but were limited to 159 yards at Wisconsin. NU is now 14-0 the past two seasons when rushing for 200 yards or more and 21-2 under Bo Pelini when hitting the 200-yard plateau.
In wins over Washington and Wyoming, Nebraska flexed its rushing muscle after halftime. The Huskers produced 217 yards on the ground in the second half against Washington and rolled up 220 second-half rushing yards at Wyoming.
The rushing numbers Nebraska has produced since the start of the 2010 season bring back memories of past Nebraska running attacks.
*-Nebraska's back-to-back 300-yard rushing games against Washington and Wyoming marked the second time NU has accomplished that in the past two seasons (also games 2 and 3 in 2010). Prior to that, NU had not topped 300 rushing yards in consecutive games since late in 2002. Nebraska opened 2011 with four straight 200-yard rushing games, after beginning last year with five straight 200-yard rushing games.
*-Nebraska's 333 rushing yards at Wyoming were its seventh-most rushing yards since the start of 2004.
*-Last season, Nebraska posted 300 rushing yards in consecutive road games (Washington, Kansas State) for the first time since 2001.
*-Nebraska has produced four 100-yard rushing games this season (Martinez, 2; Burkhead, 2). A year ago, Nebraska had 12 100-yard rushing games, after having just 16 combined 100-yard rushing games the previous three seasons (2007-2009). The 12 100-yard games in 2010 were the most by NU since the 2001 team had 16 100-yard rushing outings in 13 games.
*-Nebraska has rushed for 1,249 yards through five games. In 2010, Nebraska rushed for 3,466 yards in 14 games, over 1,400 yards more than in 14 games in 2009. The 2010 season marked the first time NU rushed for 2,500 yards in a season since 2003.
The Nebraska rushing attack will face a stern test against Ohio State. The Buckeyes are allowing just 93.6 rushing yards per game to rank third in the Big Ten. OSU is 11th nationally in scoring defense and 13th in total defense.
Burkhead and Martinez Give NU One of Nation's Top Rushing Tandems
Entering the season, I-back Rex Burkhead and quarterback Taylor Martinez figured to provide Nebraska with one of the nation's top running tandems. The duo has lived up to those expectations during the early portion of the schedule.
Through five games, the duo has similar rushing production. Martinez has rushed 83 times for 482 yards and eight touchdowns, for an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Martinez had 100-yard rushing games in each of the season's first two games. Burkhead has ran the ball 81 times for 516 yards and eight touchdowns, good for 6.4 yards per tote. He topped 100 rushing yards against Washington and Wyoming, including a career-high 170 yards against the Cowboys.
Burkhead ranks second in the Big 12 and 26th nationally in rushing yards per game (103.2 ypg), while Martinez is fourth in the Big Ten and 36th nationally (96.4 ypg).
Both Martinez and Burkhead topped 900 yards last season-Martinez with 965 yards and Burkhead with 951. Nebraska and Wisconsin were the only teams nationally with a pair of returning 900-yard rushers from last season. Not only was a pair of returning 900-yard rushers a rare feat in college football this season, it is also nearly unheard of in the history of Nebraska football. The 2011 season marked only the third time in Husker history that Nebraska returned two 900-yard rushers from the previous season. The only other seasons where NU returned that production were in 1982 (Roger Craig and Mike Rozier) and 1992 (Derek Brown and Calvin Jones).
Burkhead and Martinez also ranked third among the nation's top returning running back-quarterback rushing tandems (behind Michigan's Vincent Smith and Denard Robinson and Oregon's LaMichael James and Darron Thomas).
Martinez Producing Another Dual-Threat Season
Nebraska sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez has been a prolific play-maker for the Nebraska offense since taking the reins of the offense at the start of the 2010 season. Martinez has produced another strong start in 2011, much like his redshirt freshman campaign.
Martinez rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns against Chattanooga, then had 166 yards and two touchdowns against Fresno State. Through five games, Martinez is averaging 96.4 rushing yards per game to rank fourth in the Big Ten and 36th nationally.
*-Martinez is fourth in the Big Ten and 38th nationally in total offense at 261.0 yards per game. Martinez threw for 219 yards against Fresno State, the second-highest passing total of his career. In that game, he also posted his second career 200-passing, 100-yard rushing day, the only two such games in NU history.
*-Martinez continues to show his big-play ability. He has six rushes of at least 20 yards in 2011, including four of at least 40 yards. He also has 15 passes covering at least 20 yards, including five plays of more than 40 yards.
Martinez's dual-threat ability has shown the brightest in the month of September, including two impressive efforts in season openers. Martinez rushed for three touchdowns in this year's opener against Chattanooga.
*-The Chattanooga contest marked the fourth time in Martinez's career he has rushed for at least three touchdowns, including season openers the past two years. Overall, he has six career multi-rushing TD games.
*-Martinez had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to start the year, and has seven 100-yard rushing games in 18 career games. Martinez's seven career 100-yard rushing games is already third among Nebraska quarterbacks, trailing only Eric Crouch (18) and Jammal Lord (8).
In eight September games as Nebraska's starter, Martinez has guided the Huskers to an 8-0 record, with the offense averaging 41.3 points per game. As a September passer, Martinez has completed 77-of-142 passes for 1,179 yards and six touchdowns, but his ground game has provided his biggest September statistics.
Martinez averages 113.9 rushing yards per game in September and has topped 100 rushing yards in five of eight games. He averages an impressive 7.9 yards per carry in September, including 14 rushes of 20 yards or more. Martinez also has 15 of his 19 career rushing touchdowns in September, including runs of 43 (twice), 46 (twice), 47, 67 and 80 yards. Martinez has three games in September with three rushing touchdowns.
Martinez is closing in on a couple milestones this weekend. He needs just 46 passing yards to become the 12th player in school history with 2,500 career passing yards, and with 99 yards of total offense Martinez will reach 4,000 career total offensive yards.
Burkhead a Workhorse in Rushing Attack
Junior I-back Rex Burkhead has been the focal point of the rushing attack the past three weeks, topping 100 yards on the ground against both Washington and Wyoming, and falling just short of the century mark with 96 yards at Wisconsin. After a career-high 22 carries for 120 yards against Washington, Burkhead ran for a career-high 170 yards on just 15 carries at Wyoming. Burkhead has six career 100-yard rushing games and has found the end zone eight times this year, including three games with two rushing touchdowns (Fresno State, Washington, Wyoming).
Burkhead has also accurately earned a reputation as a tough, durable and powerful back.*-
On 81 carries in 2011, Burkhead has just five rushing yards lost and averages 6.4 yards per carry.
*-The Nebraska ground game has been at its best in the second half this season, in large part due to Burkhead. NU averages 141.4 yards rushing in the second half. Burkhead saw only limited second-half action in the opener against Chattanooga, but in the past four games, he has averged 69.5 yards rushing in the second half. He also played a key role in clock-killing clinching drives against both Fresno State and Washington.
Burkhead continues to move up the Nebraska rushing chart. He has 1,813 career rushing yards to rank 29th on the Husker career rushing list. Burkhead is just 187 yards from becoming the 26th player in NU history with 2,000 career rushing yards.
Nebraska Lighting the Scoreboard Early in 2011
Nebraska is averaging 37.6 points per game to rank fourth in the Big Ten Conference and 23rd nationally. The Huskers scored 40 points or more in each of the first three games, and topped 30 points in the first four games.
*-The 2011 season marked the first time Nebraska opened the season with three straight games of 40-plus points since the 1995 season. Nebraska opened the year with four straight games of at least 40 points en route to a 12-0 record and second straight national championship.
*-This season marked only the fourth time in school history Nebraska scored 40 points or more in each of the first three games, also in 1995, 1989 and 1983. The 1983 team opened the year with five straight 40-plus point games, the 1995 had four and the 1989 team with three.
*-Nebraska had not topped 40 points in three straight games at any point in the season since 2008.
*-This year marks the first time since 2008 Nebraska had 30 or more points in each of its first four games. Prior to 2008, NU had not accomplished that scoring feat since 1995.
*-Nebraska did not reach the end zone in the second half at Wisconsin, but prior to that, the Huskers had scored a touchdown in 14 consecutive quarters. NU has scored at least one TD in 17 of 20 quarters this season.
NU Offense Continues to Show Home-Run Ability
Nebraska's 2010 offense featured a big-play element led by Taylor Martinez, and 2011 appears to be no different. NU is averaging 6.2 yards per play, including 27 offensive plays of at least 20 yards and 11 of more than 40 yards.
*-Martinez has four rushes of more than 40 yards, including a long of 57 yards against Fresno State and touchdowns of 43, 46 and 47 yards. He also had a 37-yard run against Fresno State. Martinez is averaging 5.8 yards per rush and 6.9 yards per play this season.
*-NU had three pass plays of more than 40 yards against Fresno State and added a 50-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage against Washington. Martinez averaged 21.9 yards on 10 completions against Fresno State and 15.5 yards on 10 completed passes against Washington. He is averaging 15.2 yards per completion through five games. Four Husker receivers are each averaging more than 17.0 yards per catch through five games.
Young Huskers Adding Explosive Element to NU Offense
The Nebraska offense is filled with youth this fall, as 11 players in the offensive two-deep depth chart saw their first action in the opener against Chattanooga. That young talent and ability has been very evident early in 2011.
*-Every yard and point in the Fresno State contest was accounted by a player that was a junior or younger, highlighted by explosive plays by Nebraska freshmen and sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez.
*-A trio of freshmen delivered at the skill positions against Fresno State. I-back/returner Ameer Abdullah and receivers Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell combined for 336 all-purpose yards on 12 touches, a 28.0-yard average.
*-Abdullah had 231 all-purpose yards on eight touches, including a school-record 211 kickoff return yards on five returns. Abdullah had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, tying for the second-longest return in school history. The 211 return yards were eighth in Big Ten history. Abdullah added three returns for 129 yards, including a 66-yarder against Washington and had 187 yards on kickoff returns at Wisconsin. His average of 35.1 yards per return ranks first nationally.
*-Abdullah and fellow true freshmen backs Aaron Green and Braylon Heard combined for 11 rushes for 74 yards against Washington and 15 rushes for 88 yards at Wyoming. Green also had a 25-yard touchdown reception against Washington.
*-Turner and Bell have become big-play threats in the NU passing game. The duo has combined for three receptions of better than 40 yards. Turner leads the team with 13 receptions for 223 yards, an average of 17.2 yards per catch. He had a season-high five catches for 84 yards at Wisconsin, marking his fourth straight game with at least two catches. Bell averages 21.7 yards on his six catches in 2011.
Youth Served on Nebraska Offensive Line
Nebraska has a long tradition of annually putting one of the nation's top offensive lines on the field. The Huskers traditionally have also had an offensive line consisting primarily of upperclassmen. Last year, the Huskers started three seniors and a junior on the line for the majority of the season. That trend has changed in 2011, with a youth movement up front. In the first two games in 2011, Nebraska started a true freshman, redshirt freshman, and a pair of sophomores up front, along with a pair of seniors.
Highlighting the youth movement is true freshman Tyler Moore who started at right tackle each of the first four weeks, marking a historic milestone in Nebraska history.
*-Moore, who enrolled in January, was the first true freshman offensive lineman to start a season opener in Nebraska history, and just the fourth freshman offensive lineman to earn a start in Nebraska's season opener, joining redshirt freshmen Jeremiah Sirles (2010 vs. Western Kentucky), Marcel Jones (2008 vs. Western Michigan) and Richie Incognito (2002 vs. Arizona State).
*-Moore is also just the fourth true freshman offensive lineman to start a game at Nebraska and the first since 2007. Previous true freshman starters on the offensive line include: Jaivorio Burkes (2 starts in 2007), Jacob Hickman (1 start in 2006) and Matt Slauson (3 starts in 2005).
*-Moore is only the 10th true freshman offensive lineman to appear in a game for the Huskers since freshmen regained eligibility in 1973, and just the sixth to appear in a season opener.
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Play at Nebraska (10)
Tyler Moore (2011), Andrew Rodriguez (2010), Jaivorio Burkes (2007), Jacob Hickman (2006), Matt Slauson (2005), Greg Austin (2003), Toniu Fonoti (1999), John Garrison (1999), Will Shields (1989), Jake Young (1986)
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Play in Season Opener (6)
Tyler Moore (2011), Andrew Rodriguez (2010), Tonui Fonoti (1999), John Garrison (1999), Will Shields (1989), Jake Young (1986)
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Start a Game (4)
Tyler Moore (4 games in 2011), Jaivorio Burkes (2 games in 2007), Jacob Hickman (1 games in 2006),
Matt Slauson (3 games in 2005)
Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Start Season Opener (4)
Tyler Moore (2011), Jeremiah Sirles (RFr., 2010), Marcel Jones (RFr., 2008), Richie Incognito (RFr., 2002)
*-The three underclassmen in the starting offensive line were a rarity. The Chattanooga game marked the first time NU started three underclassmen on the offensive line in any game since 2008, and the first time ever in a season opener.
Against Washington and Wyoming, Nebraska had another rarity on the line. Junior walk-on Seung Hoon Choi started the two games at left guard, joining right guard Spencer Long and center Mike Caputo as original walk-on players who started on the line. The Washington game marked the first time since the first two games of 1988 that Nebraska had started three walk-ons on the offensive line.
Nebraska has employed a rotation of eight offensive linemen in each of the past three games.
David Poised to Build on Record-Setting 2010 Season
Linebacker Lavonte David arrived on the Nebraska campus just a few months before the 2010 season, but by the end of the year he had put his name in the Nebraska record book and in the minds of college football fans around the country. In 2011, the 6-1, 225-pound David is playing at an equally high level and is a strong candidate for national honors, including one of the leading contenders for the Butkus Award.
David set a Nebraska season record with 152 tackles in 2010, and his 10.9 tackles per game ranked 11th nationally and tops in the Big 12. His tackle total surpassed the previous school record of 149 tackles by Barrett Ruud in 2003. The 6-1, 220-pound David was also the first Blackshirt defender to record 100 tackles since Ruud in 2004.
David opened the 2011 season with a team-high nine tackles, including a tackle for loss in the win over Chattanooga, helping the Huskers limit the Mocs to just seven points and 230 total yards. He backed that up with 15 tackles against Fresno State for his ninth career double-figure tackle game, including four with at least 15 tackles. Against Washington, David added his first career interception to stop a Husky first-quarter scoring threat in the Nebraska red zone. He tied his career high with two sacks and three tackles for loss at Wisconsin.
Through five games his 45 tackles leads the team and his 9.0 tackles per game rank fourth in the Big Ten.
*-David had a career-high 19 tackles in the Huskers' victory over South Dakota State in 2010. His tackle total vs. SDSU was tied for the most in the Big 12, and was the highest for a Nebraska player since Ruud totaled 19 tackles at Kansas State in 2004. The tackle total tied for the seventh-most in a single game in Nebraska history.
*-David had 35 tackles in back-to-back games against South Dakota State and Kansas State, the best for a Husker since Ruud had 36 tackles in back-to-back games against Kansas State and Missouri in 2004. David made 17 tackles against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, giving him the top three tackle efforts of the past six seasons.
In addition to leading the team in tackles, David was second on the team in tackles for loss (15-60), sacks (6-50) and pass breakups (10), while ranking fourth in hurries (7). David was named the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year by every outlet that selected that honor. He was also a first-team All-Big 12 selection, while the Kansas City Star named him its conference defensive player of the year. David also received national accolades, including first-team All-America honors by Rivals.com and CBSSports.com, while the AP and SI.com named him to the second team.
Despite having the benefit of only two seasons in a Nebraska uniform, David is in position to rank among the top 10 career tackles in school history. David needs 51 tackles to crack the top 10, and just 23 to reach the top 20 on the career list. Demorrio Williams' 220 career tackles are the most by a Nebraska defender who played just two seasons as a Husker (2002-03), while David's 197 tackles are second in that group.
Crick Looking for Dominant 2011 Season for Blackshirts
Defensive tackle Jared Crick has been a fixture on Nebraska's defensive line and in opponent backfields for three seasons. The 6-6, 285-pound Crick has earned first-team all-conference honors each of the past two seasons, and is likely to be a strong candidate for numerous national honors this fall.
Crick sat out the Wyoming game with an injury, but returned to action against Wisconsin. His absence at Wyoming ended a streak of 31 consecutive starts for the senior defensive tackle. In addition to his All-Big 12 award in 2010, Crick was also a first-team All-America choice by Rivals.com, while earning second-team honors from the Associated Press and CBSSports.com. Crick was one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, and he was a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Crick entered 2011 in position to cement his place as one of the top defenders in Nebraska history. He was a first-team All-American by nearly every preseason outlet and is among the favorites for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Crick opened the year with five tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss, against Chattanooga. He also broke up a pass that was intercepted and added a quarterback hurry. Against Washington, Crick had a season-high six tackles and recorded his first sack of the season and the 20th of his Nebraska career. At Wisconsin, Crick had five tackles and blocked a Badger extra point.
*-Crick has the opportunity to become Nebraska's first three-time, first-team all-conference selection since cornerback Ralph Brown achieved the rare honor in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Just 21 players in school history have been three-time all-conference picks, including only five since 1990.
*-Crick made 70 tackles last season to rank third on the team and first among linemen. He led all Big 12 defensive linemen with 5.0 tackles per game.
*-Crick had a team-high 9.5 sacks, including three games with two or more sacks. He also had 9.5 sacks in 2009. Crick's 20 career sacks is eighth in school history. His sack total ranks eighth in school history and he is third among active players in sacks. Crick is four sacks from cracking the top five in NU history.
*-Crick led the team with 17 tackles for loss (91 yards) in his junior season. His 35 career tackles for loss are three shy of the top 10 on the career chart, and Crick is nine tackles for loss from cracking the top five in school history.
*-In 2009, Crick pushed Ndamukong Suh for team statistical leads in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss. Crick finished with 73 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. His 5.2 tackles per game were second behind Suh among Big 12 defensive linemen.
*-Crick had one of the most prolific defensive days in school history with a record-setting performance at Baylor in 2009. Crick had a school-record five sacks for 24 yards in the game. His five sacks were the most in a single game by any player in the nation in 2009, just ahead of Suh's 4.5 sacks against Texas. Crick had seven tackles for loss, tying the NU school record also held by Jim Skow (1985 vs. Missouri) and Suh (2009 vs. Texas). The seven TFLs by Crick and Suh were three more than any other Big 12 player in 2009.
Blackshirts Look to Get Back to Stingy Scoring Defense
Nebraska was among the nation's top scoring defenses in both 2009 and 2010. The 2009 defense led the nation at 10.4 points per game, and held seven foes to single digits and eight teams to 10 or fewer points. Both of those totals led the nation. Nebraska posted two shutouts for the first time since 2003. In 2010, Nebraska again ranked in the top 10 nationally, holding opponents to 17.4 points per game to rank ninth.
Nebraska has struggled in this department in 2011, averaging 27.2 points per game allowed, but the Huskers combined numbers from 2009 to 2011 still rank among the nation's best. Including five games in 2011, Nebraska has allowed an average of 15.9 points per game in 33 games since the start of the 2009 season. That is the fifth-best scoring defense mark in the nation in that span, trailing only Alabama, Ohio State, TCU and Boise State.
*-Nebraska's 10.4 points per game allowed in 2009 were the fewest since the 1984 defense led the nation by allowing just 9.5 points per game. NU had not allowed fewer than 15 points per game since 2003.
*-Before the last two seasons, Nebraska had not ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense in consecutive seasons since 1995 and 1996.
*-Nebraska held 13 of 14 opponents to 20 or fewer points in 2009. To put that accomplishment in perspective, NU held just six opponents to fewer than 20 points in 2007 and 2008 combined. Nebraska held 10 of 14 teams to 20 or fewer points in 2010, and only one opponent scored more than 24 points in regulation play.
*-Only 15 Nebraska opponents have scored as many as 17 points since the start of the 2009 season (33 games). In that stretch, Nebraska has allowed 10 or fewer points in 13 games.
Maher Leading Impressive Nebraska Special Teams Unit
When you must replace the most accurate place-kicker in NCAA history there is obviously going to be some concern. However, junior place-kicker/punter Brett Maher has quickly put most of those concerns to rest with a near-perfect effort through five games. Maher replaced Alex Henery, Nebraska's starting place-kicker from 2007 to 2010, and starting punter the past two seasons. Henery is now with the Philadelphia Eagles.
A native of Kearney, Neb., Maher was a perfect 4-of-4 on field goals in the opener, including a 50-yarder into a strong wind on his first career attempt. He added field goals of 48, 34 and 21 yards later in the game and his four field goals tied for the third-most in school history and also tied the record for most field goals in a season opener. Maher added a 3-of-3 field-goal performance in the win over Washington. He narrowly missed a 50-yarder at Wyoming, and also missed a 50-yarder at Wiscosnin, and he is now 9-of-11 on the season. Maher is also perfect on 23 extra-point tries. Maher is tied for ninth nationally in field goals per game at 1.8 per contest and his 10.0 points per game places him 25th nationally.
Maher has been even more impressive in the punting department. He showed his strong leg in the opener, averaging 52.0 yards on his four punts, including downing two inside the Chattanooga 20-yard line. The 52.0-yard per punt average was the best by a Nebraska punter since the 2005 season. Against Fresno State, Maher averaged 50.8 yards on five punts, and again downed a pair of punts inside the 20.
Maher was the first Nebraska punter to average 50.0 yards per punt in consecutive games since Sam Koch accomplished the feat in the final two games of the 2005 season. Maher added a third 50.0-yard average, booming three punts for a 53.0-yard average at Wyoming. Maher's punting average of 47.9 yards per boot ranks second in the Big Ten and among the top five nationally. He has downed seven punts inside the opponent 20 and has eight 50-plus-yard punts.
Maher was rewarded for his effort against Chattanooga by being named co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. The Huskers captured that award in consecutive weeks as freshman Ameer Abdullah received the weekly honor for his explosive return effort against Fresno State. Abdullah had five kickoff returns for a school-record 211 yards against the Bulldogs, including a 100-yard return for a touchdown. His 187 kickoff return yards at Wisconsin were the second-highest total in school history. Through five games, Nebraska leads the nation in kickoff returns at 30.6 yards per return, and Abdullah is first individually at 35.1 yards per attempt. The Huskers also rank 23rd nationally in punt returns.
Avoiding Yellow and Turnovers
Throughout the offseason, the coaching staff preached the importance of having fewer penalties and turnovers in 2011. Last season, NU set school records for most penalties and penalty yards and also led the nation in fumbles. Nebraska was much improved in the penalty area in the non-conference portion of its schedule, but had a setback at Wisconsin. The Huskers continue to strive for cleaning up their turnover issues.
*-Nebraska had just three penalties against both Chattanooga and Fresno State to open the season, but was whistled for a season-high nine penalties at Wisconsin. Nebraska ranks 41st nationally in fewest penalties per game at 5.4 per contest, and has been penalized a total of 246 yards in five games. In 2010, Nebraska had at least six penalties in 13 of 14 games and tallied at least 45 yards in penalties in all but one game. NU's season low last season was three penalties for 15 yards against Oklahoma, and Nebraska had a season-high of 16 penalties for 145 yards at Texas A&M.
*-Nebraska has committed nine turnovers in the first five games, and is minus-2 in turnover margin. Three turnovers at Wisconsin were costly, as the Badgers converted the interceptions into 21 points.
Shields to be Honored at Ohio State Game
One of the all-time greats in Nebraska history will be honored during Saturday night's game against Ohio State. The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame will honor Will Shields with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute. Shields was selected for the College Football Hall of Fame last spring and will be officially inducted later this year in New York City.
Shields earned unanimous All-America honors at offensive guard for Coach Tom Osborne in 1992, and earned four letters from 1989 to 1992 in his career. In 1992, Shields captured the Outland Trophy as the nation's top interior lineman, and he was a three-time first-team All-Big Eight pick. Shields aided the Nebraska offense to three straight NCAA rushing championships and helped the Huskers to Big Eight crowns in 1991 and 1992.
Shields went on to an impressive 14-year NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs and was recently named to the ballot for the 2012 NFL Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Several Huskers Earn First Start, Playing Time
Several Huskers made either their career debut, first career start or both in the season opener. First-time starters against Chattanooga included true freshman Tyler Moore, sophomores Spencer Long and Andrew Rodriguez and senior Jermarcus "Yoshi" Hardrick on the offensive line, sophomore receiver Quincy Enunwa, sophomore cornerback Andrew Green, sophomore defensive end Jason Ankrah and junior punter and place-kicker Brett Maher.
*-In addition to Moore, other true freshmen to see action against Chattanooga included I-backs Ameer Abdullah, Aaron Green and Braylon Heard, wide receiver Jamal Turner and place-kicker Mauro Bondi. Last season, just three true freshmen played for the Huskers and Nebraska also played six true freshman in 2009.
*-Other players seeing their first action as Huskers included junior transfers Joseph Carter (defensive end) and Daimion Stafford (safety), redshirt freshmen Kenny Bell (wide receiver), Brion Carnes (quarterback), Corey Cooper (safety), Jake Cotton (offensive guard), Tyler Evans (wide receiver), Harvey Jackson (safety), Stanley Jean-Baptiste (cornerback), Josh Mitchell (cornerback), Trevor Roach (linebacker) and Chase Rome (defensive tackle).
*-Against Fresno State, safety Daimion Stafford and tight end Kevin Thomsen each made their first career starts. First-time starters against Washington included junior guard Seung Hoon Choi, Bell at receiver, Mitchell at cornerback and junior defensive back Justin Blatchford. Redshirt freshman cornerback Corey Cooper made his first career start at Wyoming.
Four Walk-ons Placed on Scholarship
Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini announced during fall camp that four Huskers had been placed on scholarship after originally joining the team as walk-ons. The group included senior I-back Austin Jones, senior fullback Tyler Legate, senior defensive back Lance Thorell and junior long snapper P.J. Mangieri.
Pelini has made the walk-on program a huge priority since taking over the Nebraska program. In his first four recruiting classes, Nebraska has welcomed more than 80 walk-on players into the Nebraska program. In his first four seasons, Pelini has placed 14 players on scholarship prior to the start of the season.
A senior from Aurora, Colo., Jones has played in 14 games as a reserve I-back in his career and compiled 114 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 career carries.
Legate joined the Nebraska program in 2008 after one season at South Dakota. Legate has played in 32 games, including 14 starts at fullback. He has five career receptions, including a three touchdown grabs. Legate was Nebraska's 2009 walk-on MVP and was a first-team academic All-Big 12 pick in 2010.
A native of Loomis, Neb., Thorell has been a fixture in the Nebraska secondary for the past three seasons. Thorell has played in 44 games, including six career starts, and has often being used in a nickel or dime role. Thorell is a three-time academic All-Big 12 pick and a three-year member of the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team.
Mangieri joined the Nebraska program as a walk-on from Peoria, Ill., in 2009 and has started every game the past three seasons as Nebraska's long snapper. His work helped former NU place-kicker Alex Henery shatter numerous school records the past two seasons.
Nebraska Seeks Third Straight 10-Win Season
Nebraska has posted 10 wins in each of the past two seasons, giving the Huskers back-to-back double-digit victory seasons for the first time since 2000 (10-2) and 2001 (11-2). A third straight season with 10 or more victories in 2011 would mark the first time the Huskers have accomplished that since a three-year span from 1999 to 2001.
Nebraska is one of just nine schools in the nation with back-to-back 10 win seasons, including Wisconsin and Ohio State of the Big Ten, Alabama (SEC), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oregon and Utah (Pac-12) and TCU and Boise State (Mountain West).
*-2010 marked the first time Nebraska posted 10 wins in the regular season since the 2001 team won 11 regular-season games.
*-Bo Pelini joined Frank Solich as the only NU coaches to post two 10-win seasons in their first three years.
*-The 2010 season was Nebraska's 25th all-time 10-win season in school history, including 23 since 1970.
Huskers in Elite Group with Three Straight Nine-Win Seasons
Nebraska secured its third straight nine-win season under third-year head coach Bo Pelini in 2010.
*-The three 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 10 schools to with nine wins or more in each of the past three seasons, joining TCU, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Utah and West Virginia. Nebraska has 45 nine-win seasons in school history.
NCAA Record Sellout Streak Continues
One of the most remarkable streaks in collegiate sports continues into the 2011 season. Nebraska has sold out every game at Memorial Stadium since November of 1962, and the streak stands at 315 games (including Ohio State). With three additional home games after this week, the streak is likely to reach 318 by season's end. Nebraska celebrated the 300th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 26, 2009 against Louisiana-Lafayette, with a stadium record crowd of 86,304. Notre Dame is second in all-time consecutive sellouts with 223, 92 fewer than Nebraska.
Memorial Stadium Provides Huskers with Huge Home-Field Edge
Nebraska has rewarded the loyalty of its fans with incredible success at Memorial Stadium through the years.
» Nebraska has won at least six home games in 20 of the past 25 seasons. Nebraska is 138-19 at home in the last 23 seasons (since 1989). Nebraska finished 6-1 at home in 2010, its best record at Memorial Stadium since also going 6-1 in 2006. The Huskers are 3-0 at home this season.
» During Nebraska's run of success at home in the past 25 years, NU has had three home winning streaks of 20 or more games. Nebraska has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons.
» The Huskers are 507-138-20 (.777, 665 games, 122 years) in Lincoln, and 382-115-13 (.762, 510 games, 89 years) in Memorial Stadium (since 1923). Nebraska has had 42 straight winning home seasons.
» Nebraska posted its 500th all-time home win against Idaho on Sept. 11, 2010. The 500th home victory put Nebraska in elite company. Only three other schools in college football history (Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee) reached the 500-win plateau at home before Nebraska.
Huskers Tough Under the Lights at Memorial Stadium
Nebraska has been extremely tough at home in night games at Memorial Stadium. Since the first night game at Memorial Stadium in 1986, Nebraska is 34-5 under the lights in Lincoln, including wins in eight straight home night games. This season, Nebraska defeated Fresno State in a night game at Memorial Stadium.
- Nebraska's five losses in home night games have all come against teams that won at least 10 games in that season (Washington, 1991; Texas, 2002; USC, 2007; Virginia Tech and Missouri, 2008).
- The Huskers' dominance at night in Lincoln has been impressive, as 28 of the home night wins have been by at least 13 points.
Memorial Stadium Expansion in Progress
Fans arriving at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium this fall will see construction on the East side of the stadium. When complete for the 2013 season, the addition will push Nebraska's average attendance beyond 90,000. While adding more than 5,000 seats, including a combination of club seats, suites and general public seating, the addition will preserve the rich tradition and orginial architecture of Memorial Stadium. The East Stadium addition will also include dedicated restrooms and concessions areas. A new grand lobby, expanded concourse, and additional first-aid areas will also be added. No current East Stadium seats will be removed and no season ticket holders will be required to relocate their seats as part of this project.
The addition will also include dedicated areas on the ground floor for research, both for Athletics and UNL Research. Construction will resume in full force following the football season and will be completed in time for the 2013 season.
Huskers Open 2011 Season in Associated Press Top 10
Nebraska opened the 2011 season ranked 10th according to the Associated Press, while the Huskers checked in at No. 11 in the preseason coaches poll. Nebraska is currently 14th in the AP poll. A year ago, Nebraska began the year ranked eighth in the preseason Associated Press poll. This marks the first time NU has opened in the top 10 in back-to-back years since 2001 and 2002. In fact, Nebraska opened in the top 10 each year from 1993 to 2002, and was also in the preseason top 10 each season from 1978 to 1990.
Last season, Nebraska ranked as high as fifth in the Associated Press poll, the Huskers highest ranking in the AP poll at any time since ranking fourth entering the 2002 Rose Bowl contest against Miami.
Nebraska Among Leaders in Associated Press National Titles
Notre Dame leads the nation by winning eight Associated Press national titles since 1936, with Oklahoma (7), Alabama (6), Miami (5), USC (5), Nebraska (4) and Minnesota (4) next in line. While the Huskers were awarded the national title by the coaches in 1997, NU finished second to Michigan in the AP poll.
In 1970, Nebraska was awarded the AP national title, but not the coaches (Texas was first, Ohio State second and NU third) as the final poll was released before the bowl games were played. In the coaches poll (since 1950), NU is tied for fourth with Miami and Texas with four titles, behind Alabama and Oklahoma with six apiece, and USC with five.
Nebraska has won 43 football conference championships in school history, and is making its debut in the Big Ten Conference this fall. The Huskers won 13 conference titles under Tom Osborne and eight under Bob Devaney.
During its 15-year history in the Big 12 Conference, Nebraska won league titles in 1997 and 1999, and also appeared in the Big 12 Championship Game in 1996, 2006, 2009 and 2010. Nebraska was one of just three teams to capture two or more Big 12 titles in the first 15 years of the league, joining Oklahoma and Texas. Nebraska's six Big 12 title game appearances were second only to Oklahoma's eight.
The 2011 Nebraska roster includes three sets of twins and five total sets of brothers. Courtney and Steven Osborne of Garland, Texas, signed with the Huskers in 2008 and enter their fourth seasons in the program-Courtney as a safety and Steven at wide receiver. Colin and Conor McDermott walked on to Nebraska from Omaha Creighton Prep high school and are both juniors this fall. Jake and Spencer Long also hail from Omaha (Elkhorn High School) and are in their third seasons in the program. Jake lines up at tight end, while Spencer is an offensive lineman.
In addition to the three sets of twins, Nebraska also has two other sets of brothers on the roster-Ben and Jake Cotton, and Andrew and Aaron Green. The Cottons are the sons of Nebraska associate head coach Barney Cotton. In addition, walk-on redshirt freshman offensive lineman Mark Pelini is the nephew of Bo and Carl Pelini. Fullback Mike Marrow is the son of Nebraska graduate assistant coach Vince Marrow. Freshman walk-on linebacker Broderick Boehm is the son of Nebraska Executive Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm.
Nebraska Football-A Family Affair
The Cotton family is one of several father-son combinations who have played for Nebraska. Barney lettered at Nebraska in 1976-78, while Ben is a junior tight end and Jake is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman. Other current Nebraska players whose fathers also played at NU include DB Joey Felici (Tony, 1980-82), LB Sean Fisher (Todd, 1983), DE Andy Gdowski (Tom, 1980-82), WR KC Hyland (John, 1970-72), LB Micah Kreikemeier (Keith, 1981-85), DE Jay Martin (Bob, 1973-75), OL Tyler Moore (Brian, 1982-85), LB Anthony Ridder (Dave, 1981-83), TE Eddie Ridder (Tom, 1970s), C Cole Pensick (Dan, 1977-79), LB Colby Starkebaum (John, 1972-74) and DT Baker Steinkuhler (Dean, 1981-83).
NFL Has Large Influence on Nebraska Roster
Several players also have family connections with the National Football League. Barney Cotton logged four seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Cardinals from 1979 to 1982, giving his sons Ben and Jake a direct line to the NFL. Other players whose fathers played in the NFL include Kenny Bell (Ken, Denver, 1986-89), Jay Martin (Bob, N.Y. Jets, San Francisco, 1976-79), Mike Marrow (Vince, Buffalo, Carolina, N.Y. Jets, Chicago, San Francisco, 1992-99) Baker Steinkuhler (Dean, Houston, 1984-91), and Lester Ward (Lester, Sr., Dallas).
Nebraska Football Continues Winning Ways in the Classroom
Nebraska football has long been one of the nation's most successful programs on the field. Success in the classroom is also a cornerstone of the Nebraska football program.
CASSIDY CONTINUES ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA TRADITION
Nebraska junior safety Austin Cassidy was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America first team in 2010. Cassidy was Nebraska's first first-team academic All-American since 2005. Cassidy carries a 3.905 cumulative grade-point average in psychology, and has been named to the academic all-district team each of the past two seasons.
NATION-LEADING TOTAL OF ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICANS
The selection of Cassidy continued to help build Nebraska's nation-leading total of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in football. The Huskers now have 99 all-time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in football, including 64 first-team selections. Nebraska also leads the nation in academic All-Americans with 291 academic All-Americans across all teams and all sports, including 14 honorees in 2010-11.
SENIOR CLASS IN STRONG ACADEMIC STANDING
Nebraska's 21-player senior class includes two players-Austin Cassidy and Jared Crick-who are playing the 2011 season as graduate students. Cassidy picked up his undergraduate degree in May and Crick graduated in August.
» Another 12 seniors are on track to complete their degree work in the fall, giving the Huskers 14 senior graduates by the bowl season. All 21 members of the senior class are scheduled to complete their undergraduate work by August 2012, including 20 of the 21 by next May.
» In addition to the senior class, five current NU juniors are scheduled to complete their undergraduate work during the fall semester, finishing in just 3 1/2 years. That group includes Kenny Anderson, Will Compton, Ben Cotton, Baker Steinkuhler and Josh Williams. Another seven juniors are currently on track to graduate in May of 2012.
» Among Bo Pelini's first three senior classes, 52 of 57 players are on track to earn their degrees by December.