Kenny Bell and the Huskers tangle with Minnesota Saturday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Get Ready for Gophers

By NU Athletic Communications



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Record: 5-1, 2-0 Big Ten

Rankings: Coaches-21; AP-25
Last Game: def. Purdue, 44-7
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 54-21/6th year 
vs. Minnesota: 2-0

Record: 5-2, 1-2
Rankings: Coaches-NR; AP-NR
Last Game: def. Northwestern, 20-17
Coach: Jerry Kill
Career/Minnesota Record: 14-18/3rd Year  141-91/19th
vs. NU: 0-2

The Matchup
Nebraska begins the second half of its 2013 season on the road this Saturday when it travels to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. Game time is set for 11 a.m. CT with the game televised to a national audience on ESPN.

The Huskers enter the contest with a 5-1 overall record and a 2-0 mark in the Big Ten, following a 44-7 victory at Purdue on Oct. 12. Following its second bye week of the season, the Huskers are ranked 21st according to the USA Today Coaches Poll, 25th in the Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the first BCS standings of the season.

The first half of Nebraska’s schedule featured a pair of bye weeks, but the Minnesota game will begin a stretch of six games in 35 days to cap the regular season. Saturday’s contest will also be the first of five Legends Division contests in the final six weeks of the season, including each of Nebraska’s next four games.

Minnesota comes into Saturday’s game with a 5-2 overall record, and a 1-2 mark in Big Ten play. The Gophers won their first four games of the season, before losing two straight, but rebounded with a 20-17 win at Northwestern last Saturday. Minnesota features a strong rushing attack, averaging better than 210 yards per game, while the Gopher defense has also been strong against the run, holding opponents to 123.4 yards per game on the ground.


The Series
Minnesota is Nebraska’s most frequent opponent among Big Ten schools, with Saturday’s matchup the 54th all-time meeting. Nebraska will be looking to extend a 16-game winning streak against Minnesota that dates back to 1963, but Minnesota does hold a 29-22-2 overall advantage in the series. The Huskers have won the past nine meetings in Minneapolis.


The Coaches
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 54-21 record (.720) in his sixth season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first five seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne in accomplishing that feat at Nebraska. With Nebraska’s win over Wyoming in the season opener, Pelini became the fifth coach in NU history to win 50 games on the NU sideline, joining Dana Bible, Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich.

Minnesota: Jerry Kill (Southwestern College, ‘83) is in his third season as the head coach at Minnesota and his 19th season overall as a collegiate head coach. Kill has a 141-91 overall record and a 14-18 mark at Minnesota. Last season he guided the Gophers to an appearance in the Texas Bowl. Kill has not been on the sideline the last two games for medical reasons.

Nebraska Football
Nebraska is 861-354-40 all-time, one of just eight schools with 800 all-time victories w Nebraska has won five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997). The Cornhuskers have won 43 conference championships. NU’s 49 all-time bowl appearances rank third nationally. Since 1970, NU has 427 wins, 25 more than any other school. Nebraska’s 106 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation. The Huskers have 110 first-team All-Americans in school history.

Noting Game Six...Nebraska 44, Purdue 7
The victory improved Nebraska to 5-1 and 2-0 in Big Ten play, marking the third time in four seasons Nebraska has been 5-1 through six games. NU’s 2-0 Big Ten start is its first 2-0 start in conference play since beginning 3-0 in the 2006 Big 12 slate.

The Huskers’ 37-point victory was Nebraska’s largest margin of victory in its three seasons of Big Ten Conference play. It also marked the Huskers’ largest margin of victory in a conference road game since a 51-7 win at Kansas in 2001.

Nebraska evened its record in road openers under Bo Pelini at 3-3 and also moved to 3-3 in conference road openers under Pelini’s leadership.

Nebraska won for the fourth straight time in a Big Ten regular-season road game. The Huskers now own a 15-6 record in road conference games under Pelini, with those 15 victories coming in 13 stadiums.

Nebraska limited Purdue to seven points, 11 first downs and 216 total yards, all marking season lows. The previous lows were 13 points, 16 first downs and 284 total yards, all against Southern Miss.

I-back Ameer Abdullah rushed 20 times for 126 yards and one touchdown. With his 126 rushing yards, Abdullah increased his career rushing total to 2,103 and became the 28th player in Nebraska history to rush for 2,000 career yards. Abdullah is the 12th player to reach 2,000 yards before the end of his junior year.

The 100-yard rushing day marks Abdullah’s fifth 100-yard rushing game of 2013 and the 11th of his Nebraska career.

Abdullah had a 33-yard run on the final play of the third quarter, marking his seventh run of at least 30 yards this season.

Senior receiver Quincy Enunwa had four receptions for 72 yards, including an eight-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter. Enunwa has a streak of 20 straight games with a reception, tying for the fourth-longest streak in school history. Enunwa’s touchdown catch was his seventh of the season, tying him for ninth on the NU single-season TD receptions list. Enunwa has 10 career TD receptions.

Enunwa increased his career receiving yardage total to 1,127 yards, moving him up seven spots to 14th on the NU career receiving list.

Sophomore I-back Imani Cross rushed 16 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the game, marking his third game this season with two rushing touchdowns and the fifth time in his career he has had a pair of rushing touchdowns. Cross has now rushed for a team-high eight touchdowns this season and 15 in his career.

Redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Westerkamp caught a career-high three passes for a career-high 53 yards. Westerkamp had two first-half receptions of 20 yards or more, each converting third-down attempts for the Huskers.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. had a three-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter, his first career rushing touchdown. Armstrong’s touchdown run was the first by a Nebraska quarterback this season.

Nebraska rushed for 251 yards, marking the 17th time in 20 games since the start of the 2012 season that NU has rushed for at least 200 yards.

Nebraska has scored 30 or more points in 15 of its past 20 games since the start of 2012, including five of six games this season.

Nebraska recorded a safety in the third quarter on a 17-yard sack by Randy Gregory. The safety was the first by Nebraska since the fourth quarter last season against Penn State (Cameron Meredith sack). Gregory finished with two tackles, including 2.0 sacks, a fumble recovery and added a QB hurry.

Nebraska totaled five sacks for 50 yards on the game, marking Nebraska’s fourth straight game with at least three sacks. The five sacks tied the Huskers’ season high, while the 50 yards lost marked a season high.

Redshirt freshman safety LeRoy Alexander intercepted a first-quarter pass for the first interception of his career.

Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his sixth season as Nebraska’s head coach and owns a 54-21 record with the Huskers. Pelini added a Big Ten Legends Division title in 2012 to three straight Big 12 North Division crowns from 2008 to 2010, when Pelini was the the first coach in the history of the Big 12 to win at least a share of a division title in each of his first three years.
He has guided Nebraska to at least nine wins each of his first five seasons in Lincoln, and three 10-win seasons. With the win over Wyoming in the opener, Pelini reached 50 career wins at Nebraska, making him just the fifth Husker coach to reach that milestone, joining Tom Osborne, Bob Devaney, Frank Solich and Dana X. Bible.

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 as an assistant 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 54-21 record, Pelini has put himself in some impressive company.

» Among schools currently in a BCS-AQ conference, Pelini was just the 11th head coach in college football history to win at least nine games in each of his first five seasons on the job at that school. The group includes three Nebraska coaches (Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne, Pelini).

» When looking only at coaches in their first head coaching job at a BCS school, Pelini is one of only four to win nine games in each of their first five years, joining Osborne, Barry Switzer (Oklahoma) and Larry Coker (Miami).

» Pelini was among a group of 18 FBS head coaches who were hired for their jobs beginning with the 2008 season. Pelini leads that group of 18 head coaches in victories over the past five-plus years with 53 wins. In fact, Pelini is one of only six coaches in the group of 18 still in the job they were hired for prior to the 2008 season.

Pelini Continues Defensive Accomplishments at Nebraska
At Nebraska, Pelini has continued his history of building championship defenses. In 2009, the Huskers led the nation in scoring defense and had the nation’s best scoring defensive improvement (18.1 ppg). When combining statistics from the past four-plus seasons, NU ranks third in pass efficiency defense, third in passing defense, 13th in scoring defense and 17th in total defense.

With Pelini’s previous track record, the success of his Nebraska defenses is no surprise.

» Pelini led the 2003 Blackshirts to 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 141 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini’s defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 41 times and to 20 points or less 90 times.

Husker Staff Returns Intact for 2013 Season
Nebraska’s coaching staff has a familiar look in 2013, as all nine assistants returned to Coach Bo Pelini’s staff. Nebraska’s staff is one of 18 coaching staffs in the country to return intact this season.

Tim Beck is in his third season as offensive coordinator in 2013, after guiding Nebraska’s offense to a top-10 national rushing effort last season. Seventh-year Nebraska assistant Barney Cotton adds the role of run game coordinator and will tutor the Nebraska tight ends this fall, in addition to his role with the offensive line. Ron Brown (running backs), Rich Fisher (wide receivers) and John Garrison (offensive line) also return to the offensive staff.

The defensive staff is under the direction of second-year coordinator John Papuchis. Last season, the Blackshirts ranked among the nation’s top units in pass defense and pass efficiency defense. Returning to the defensive staff along with Papuchis are Ross Els (linebackers), Terry Joseph (secondary) and Rick Kaczenski (defensive line).

Scouting Minnesota
Minnesota snapped a two-game losing streak with a 20-17 win at Northwestern last Saturday, picking up its first Big Ten Conference victory. UM enters Saturday’s contest with a 5-2 overall record and a 1-2 mark in Big Ten play.

The Golden Gophers have used two starting quarterbacks this season. Sophomore Philip Nelson started four of the first five games, posting a 3-1 record. Redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner has started three games this season, including the last two contests, posting a 2-1 record. Last Saturday at Northwestern, Leidner earned the start but the Golden Gophers were forced to punt on their first four possessions. Nelson came on and led Minnesota on its only scoring drive of the first half, then played the majority of the second half.

Minnesota scored all 20 of its points with Nelson under center. Nelson has completed 53.9 percent of his passes this fall for 492 yards and three touchdowns while throwing four interceptions. Leidner has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 332 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while adding 344 rushing yards, good for second on the team. David Cobb leads Minnesota with 477 rushing yards this season, while Rodrick Williams has added 332 yards.

Overall, Minnesota is averaging 29.3 points per game. The Golden Gophers average 327.9 yards of total offense, including 210.1 rushing yards and 117.7 passing yards.

Defensively, the Golden Gophers are allowing 23.1 points per game. Minnesota ranks 45th nationally in total defense at 375.9 yards allowed per game. Opponents average 123.4 rushing yards per game and 252.4 passing yards per contest.

Series History
Minnesota leads the all-time series, 29-22-2, but the Huskers have won 16 straight in the series dating back to 1963. The Golden Gophers own a 20-12-2 record in Minneapolis, but Nebraska won the only meeting at TCF Bank Stadium, 41-14, in 2011. The Huskers also defeated Minnesota 38-14 in Lincoln last fall, giving Nebraska a 2-0 record against the Gophers in Big Ten Conference play.

Nebraska has scored at least 35 points in each of the last 12 meetings, while winning each of those games by at least 24 points. Over the last 10 games, the Huskers have averaged 49.1 points and won by an average of 42.9 points. In 1983, top-ranked NU scored 84 points against the Gophers in Minneapolis, marking the Huskers’ highest point total in the modern era. NU racked up 790 yards of total offense in that win - the third-highest total in school history - including 595 rushing yards.

Saturday’s matchup will mark the 12th consecutive meeting where Nebraska is ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll at kickoff.

Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill
Jerry Kill is in his third season at Minnesota and his 19th season as a collegiate head coach. Kill helped Minnesota to a 4-1 start this season, but he has not been on the sideline the past two games while dealing with a health issue. He made a surprise trip to Northwestern in a non-coaching role last Saturday to watch his team win their first Big Ten game of the season. Kill owns a 14-18 record in his three seasons at Minnesota and a 141-91 career record.

Prior to coming to Minnesota, Kill guided Northern Illinois to a 23-16 record from 2008 to 2010 in his first FBS head coaching job. In the FCS ranks, Kill coached Southern Illinois for seven seasons from 2001 to 2007, leading the Salukis to the FCS playoffs in each of his last five seasons. Kill also made head coaching stops at Emporia State (1999-2000) and Saginaw Valley State (1994-98). He also served two stints as an assistant coach at Pittsburg State (1985-87 and 1990-93).

Huskers Seek Best Conference Start Since 2006
Nebraska has opened Big Ten Conference play with victories over Illinois and at Purdue. The 2-0 start in conference play is Nebraska’s first 2-0 start in league action since opening the 2006 Big 12 Conference season with a 3-0 record.

» A win at Minnesota would give NU a 3-0 conference record for the first time under Bo Pelini and just the fourth time since 2000.

» Nebraska enters the Minnesota contest having won eight straight Big Ten regular-season games, dating back to a loss at Ohio State last season. Nebraska’s eight-game Big Ten winning streak is its longest conference win streak since winning its final 2000 Big 12 game and its first seven conference games in 2001. A win at Minnesota would give Nebraska nine straight conference regular-season wins for the first time since winning 40 straight regular-season conference games (Big Eight, Big 12) from 1992 to 1998.

NU Hoping for Continued Road Success in Twin Cities
Nebraska looked strong in its road opener at Purdue on Oct. 12, picking up a 44-7 victory. Nebraska’s 37-point win was its largest margin of victory in conference play in its three seasons in the Big Ten. It also marked NU’s largest margin of victory in a conference road game since a 51-7 win at Kansas in Big 12 play in 2001.

» The win at Purdue was Nebraska’s fourth straight victory in a Big Ten Conference road game, after winning each of its final three road contests last fall.

» The four-game win road conference win streak is Nebraska’s longest since the Huskers won six straight Big 12 road games during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

» Nebraska is 15-6 in conference road games in six seasons under Bo Pelini’s direction. The 15 road conference wins under Pelini have occurred in 13 stadiums. A win at Minnesota would be Pelini’s second win at TCF Bank Stadium, joining Iowa State and Kansas State as places Nebraska has picked up a pair of road wins since 2008.

Huskers Look to Continue Dominance over Minnesota
The Nebraska-Minnesota series has been one of dominant stretches by both schools. Minnesota held a 29-6-2 edge in the series before 1963, but NU has since won 16 straight games, including both meetings at Big Ten opponents.

» Nebraska has won each the past 12 meetings by at least 24 points.

» The Huskers’ dominance of Minnesota is evident in the halftime scores of recent games. In the past five meetings, Nebraska has outscored the Gophers 145-0 in the first half of those games.

Nebraska Tops Big Ten in Wins in First Two Seasons in Conference
Nebraska has started its third season of Big Ten Conference action with wins over Illinois and Purdue. Nebraska has won 14 of 18 regular-season Big Ten games since joining the conference in 2011. The 14 wins since the start of the 2011 season are tied for the most regular-season victories in the Big Ten in that time period. The Huskers’ 8-2 record in division play is also among the league’s best.

Nebraska captured the Legends Division crown and made a trip to the Big Ten Conference Championship Game in 2012. Nebraska has won eight straight regular-season conference games entering Saturday’s game at Minnesota.

NU Shoots for Sixth Straight Year With Nine or More Wins
Nebraska posted a 10-4 record in 2012, giving the Huskers nine or more victories in each of Bo Pelini’s first five seasons as head coach. The streak of five straight nine-win seasons puts Nebraska in an elite class nationally.

» Nebraska is one of four schools that has won at least nine games each of the past five seasons. The others in that group include Alabama, Boise State and Oregon.

» Pelini has guided Nebraska to 10-win seasons in three of the last four years.
» The five straight years of at least 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 has 47 nine-win seasons in school history, including 39 since 1969.

Huskers Look to Secure Bowl Eligibility
Nebraska will look to push its record to 6-1 in 2013 with a win Saturday at Minnesota. A sixth win would make Nebraska bowl eligible and continue the Huskers’ long postseason tradition.

» A bowl trip this fall would mark Nebraska’s sixth straight bowl appearance under Bo Pelini, and give Nebraska 43 bowl appearances in the past 45 seasons dating back to 1969.

» Nebraska is 24-25 all-time in bowl games, and would make its 50th bowl appearance this fall. Only Alabama (59) and Texas (51) have reached 50 bowl appearances, while Tennessee could also reach that milestone this season.

NU Keeps Running Game in High Gear in 2013
Nebraska has featured one of the nation’s top rushing attacks each of the past three seasons, and the Huskers are proving to be a dominant running team again in 2013.
The Husker running game came out of the gate fast in 2013, rushing for 375 yards in the season opener against Wyoming, with four players topping 75 yards on the ground. NU also eclipsed 300 yards on the ground against South Dakota State and Illinois, rushing for 335 yards in each of those games. Nebraska is averaging 284.8 rushing yards per game to rank second in the Big Ten and 10th nationally.

» Nebraska’s 375 rushing yards vs. Wyoming were its most in a season opener since 2007. With back-to-back 300-yard games against South Dakota State and Illinois, Nebraska has topped 300 yards on the ground 15 times under Pelini, with six of those games coming since the start of the 2012 season. Nebraska is 15-0 in those games. 4 Nebraska’s 335 rushing yards against Illinois marked its second-highest total in a Big Ten Conference game and its most since rushing for 346 yards at Minnesota in 2011.

» Nebraska has reached at least 200 rushing yards in 17 of 20 games since the start of the 2012 season.

» Through six games, Nebraska I-backs Ameer Abdullah (816 yards), Imani Cross (330) and Terrell Newby (290) have combined for 1,436 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. The group averages 6.4 yards per carry.

» Abdullah has reached 100 rushing yards in five of the first six games, including a career-high 225 yards against Illinois. Abdullah now has 11 career 100-yard rushing games. Cross also topped the century mark against Wyoming, giving Nebraska six 100-yard rushing games this season.

» Newby rushed 15 times for 76 yards in the season opener against Wyoming. Newby’s rushing attempts and yards were the most by a true freshman in an opener since 2007. (Quentin Castille, 18-78)

» Cross scored two touchdowns each against Wyoming, South Dakota State and Purdue and has five career games with two rushing touchdowns. Cross has 15 rushing touchdowns on 116 career carries, a touchdown every 7.7 carries for his career.

» The four players reaching at least 75 yards rushing vs. Wyoming marked the first time NU has reached that group milestone since four Huskers topped the century mark on the ground at Baylor in 2001.

This year’s rushing surge continues Nebraska’s success on the ground. A year ago, NU averaged 253.4 rushing yards per game to lead the Big Ten and rank eighth nationally in rushing offense. The rushing average per game was the best by NU since the Huskers ran for 268.7 yards per game in 2002.

» Nebraska has averaged better than 200 rushing yards per game for three straight seasons and ranked in the top 15 nationally in that category each year from 2010 to 2012. In 2010, Nebraska ranked first in the Big 12 and ninth nationally, and in 2011 NU rushed for 217.2 yards per game, good for third in the Big Ten and 15th nationally.

» Nebraska returned a pair of 1,000-yard rushers for 2013 in Abdullah (1,137 yards) and quarterback Taylor Martinez (1,019 yards). The 2013 season marked the first time in school history Nebraska returned a pair of players who have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season.

» Nebraska was one of only two schools in the country with two players who topped 1,000 rushing yards last season returning this fall (Kent State).

» Nebraska has had a 1,000-yard rusher each of the past four seasons. That is the longest stretch for Nebraska since the Huskers had at least one 1,000-yard rusher from 1991 to 1995. Abdullah is well on pace to reach that total again this fall with 816 rushing yards through six games.

» Nebraska posted a total of 15 individual 100-yard rushing games last season, and four games with a pair of 100-yard rushers. With Abdullah and Cross both surpassing 100 yards in the season opener, Nebraska now has 74 all-time games with two 100-yard rushers.

» Four different Huskers topped 100 yards in a game last season. Nebraska was one of only five schools to have four or more players reach the century mark.

» The Huskers were one of only four teams in the country with at least four players who averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry and had at least 50 carries. Nebraska had five players reach those milestones in 2012.

The trio of Martinez, Abdullah and junior wide receiver Kenny Bell put Nebraska in some rare air in college football heading into the 2013 season.

» Nebraska was one of only three schools to return a 5,000-yard career passer, a 1,000-yard career receiver and two 1,000-yard career rushers for the 2013 season.

» Nebraska was one of only four teams with a 5,000-yard career passer, a 1,000-yard career receiver and a 2,000-yard career rusher returning for 2013.

Abdullah Looking for Back-to-Back 1,000-Yard Seasons
Abdullah first emerged as one of the Big Ten’s top running backs in 2012, as he posted a 1,000-yard rushing season. Abdullah carried a heavy load in the rushing game, teaming with quarterback Taylor Martinez to give Nebraska a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. Abdullah is well on his way to duplicating his 2012 1,000-yard campaign this fall.

Abdullah opened 2013 with a pair of 100-yard rushing games, rushing for 114 yards against both Wyoming and Southern Miss, including a career-long 62-yard run against Wyoming. He churned out a hard-fought 98 yards against UCLA, before rushing for 139 yards on 15 carries against South Dakota State. Abdullah carried the ball just once after halftime in the win over the Jackrabbits.

The non-conference season set the stage for a career day for Abdullah in the Big Ten opener against Illinois. Abdullah rushed 20 times for a career-high 225 yards and two touchdowns. He had three runs of better than 30 yards in the game, including a highlight-reel 43-yard TD run in the third quarter.

His 225 yards were the most by a Husker since Roy Helu Jr. ran for a school-record 307 yards against Missouri in 2010. For his performance, Abdullah was named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week. It was the first time Abdullah had earned the offensive player-of-the-week honors, but his fourth Big Ten weekly honor. He previously earned the Special Teams Player of the Week twice, and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week once in 2011.

Abdullah backed up that performance with 126 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries at Purdue on Oct. 12.

Abdullah now has 11 career 100-yard rushing efforts, including five in 2013. He is averaging 136.0 yards per game to rank second in the Big Ten and sixth nationally in rushing yards per game.

Click on the "Game Notes" link in the related links section at the top of this page for more notes on this weekend's game.


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