Nebraska and Rutgers meet Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on BTN
Photo by Allyssa Hynes/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Open Big Ten Play with Rutgers

By NU Athletic Communications

LINCOLN, NEB. | 2:30 p.m. (CT)

RADIO - Husker Sports Network
SATELLITE RADIO - Sirius Channel 135, XM 195

Record: 1-2, 0-0 Big Ten
Last Game: lost to N. Illinois, 21-17
Rankings: NR
Coach: Mike Riley
Career/NU Record: 109-93 (17th Year)/16-13 (3rd Year) 
vs. Rutgers: 1-0

Record: 1-2, 0-0 Big Ten
Last Game: def. Morgan State, 65-0
Rankings: NR
Coach: Chris Ash
Career/RU Record: 3-12 (2nd Year)/Same
vs. Nebraska: first meeting

The Matchup
Nebraska will play its third home game in four weeks on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers welcome Rutgers to Memorial Stadium for the 2017 Homecoming contest. Game time in Lincoln is set for shortly after 2:30 p.m. CT, with national television coverage on BTN and radio coverage on the IMG Husker Sports Network.

The Huskers enter Saturday's contest with a 1-2 record following a 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois in Lincoln. The Husker defense held NIU in check throughout the game, but two costly interceptions for touchdowns spelled the difference in the setback.

The game against Rutgers marks the Huskers' 2017 Big Ten opener. A year ago, the Huskers posted a 6-3 conference record to finish in second place in the Big Ten West. Since joining the Big Ten in 2011, Nebraska has posted a 4-2 record in Big Ten Conference openers, including a win at Northwestern in last year's league opener.

Nebraska will also be looking to extend its success on Homecoming, which includes winning its past eight Homecoming contests.

Rutgers will come to Lincoln with a 1-2 record after a 65-0 victory over Morgan State on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. The Scarlet Knights are in their second season under Head Coach Chris Ash, and have been strong on defense in 2017. Rutgers is allowing just 297.1 yards per game, including less than 100 rushing yards per contest.

Nebraska Football Top 10
• Nebraska is 890-374-40 all-time, one of only 10 schools with 800 wins.

• The Cornhuskers rank fourth all-time with their 890 victories.

• Nebraska has won five national titles (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).

• The Huskers have won 46 conference championships.

• Nebraska’s 53 all-time bowl appearances rank second in NCAA history.

• Three Huskers have won the Heisman Trophy (Rodgers, Rozier, Crouch).

• Nebraska’s 107 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation.

• The Huskers have 110 first-team All-Americans in school history.

• Nebraska football is the only team in any sport in NCAA history to total 100 athletic and academic All-Americans.

• Memorial Stadium has been sold out every game since Nov. 2, 1962, a streak of 355 consecutive sellouts.

Nebraska-Rutgers Series

The matchup on Saturday afternoon between Nebraska and Rutgers is the fourth all-time between the schools and the third as Big Ten Conference members.

Rutgers made a trip to Lincoln in 2014, before Nebraska won a game in New Jersey in 2015. The first meeting between the teams was played at the New York Polo Grounds in 1920.

Huskers Ready to Open Big Ten Conference Action
Nebraska will begin the Big Ten portion of its 2017 schedule against Rutgers on Saturday. The game marks the start of the Huskers' seventh season of Big Ten competition. 

• The Huskers are 4-2 in Big Ten openers since joining the league in 2011. 

• Rutgers is the fourth different school Nebraska has faced in a Big Ten opener. This marks the first time Nebraska has opened league play against an East Division opponent since the league switched to an East-West format in 2014. 

• Nebraska has won 38 of its past 42 conference openers overall, with three of those losses against top-20 teams. 

• Overall, Nebraska is 90-21-2 all-time in conference openers (.805 winning percentage). 

• Nebraska is 17-7 overall in Big Ten home games since joining the conference.

NU Looks for Homecoming Success vs. Scarlet Knights
Nebraska will play host to Rutgers on Saturday in the annual Homecoming game in Lincoln. The game will be Nebraska’s 107th Homecoming game. The Huskers boast an all-time record of 80-22-4 (.774 winning percentage) in Homecoming games.

Nebraska has won its past eight Homecoming games, including a 5-0 record against Big Ten opponents on Homecoming. Nebraska also won 36 straight Homecoming games from 1969 to 2004.

Riley in Third Season at Helm of Husker Program
Head Coach Mike Riley is in his third season as the Nebraska head coach in 2017. Riley has guided the Huskers to a 16-13 record. 

• Riley is in his 26th season as a head coach, tying for the second-most experience of any FBS head coach entering the 2017 season.

• Riley is one of eight active FBS head coaches who also has experience as an NFL head coach.

• Riley owns 16 victories over nationally ranked opponents during his college head coaching tenure.

Diaco Leading-New Look Blackshirt Defense
Nebraska has three new faces on its defensive staff in 2017.  The group is led by new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, while Donté Williams coaches the Husker cornerbacks and Scott Booker tutors the NU safeties. 

• Diaco was the winner of the 2012 Broyles Award as the nation's best assistant coach, while at Notre Dame. He is regarded as one of the top defensive minds in college football and has a proven track record of success at the highest level. Diaco came to Nebraska after three seasons as the head coach at the University of Connecticut. Diaco has roots in the Big Ten, twice earning All-Big Ten honors as a linebacker at Iowa in the mid-1990s.

• Williams joined the Nebraska staff last December prior to the Music City Bowl and worked with the secondary during bowl preparation. Williams spent the 2016 season at Arizona, helping compile the Wildcats’ top recruiting class in recent years. He previously coached the secondary at San Jose State, where the Spartans ranked among the nation’s best against the pass under Williams’ direction.

• Booker brings 10 years of full-time FBS coaching experience to the Nebraska sideline, including five seasons on the Notre Dame coaching staff. Before being elevated to safeties coach in June, Booker served as a special teams consultant with the Huskers. In addition to his duties with the safeties, Booker serves as Nebraska's special teams coordinator in 2017.

Wilbon, Spielman Join First-Time Starters for 2017 Huskers
Junior I-Back Mikale Wilbon and redshirt freshman receiver JD Spielman made their first career starts on Saturday against Northern Illinois. Wilbon and Spielman were the seventh Husker to earn their first carer starts in 2017.

The previous week at Oregon, redshirt freshman offensive tackle Matt Farniok stepped in on the right side in place of an injured David Knevel. Farniok again started against NIU as Knevel remained on the sidelines.

In the season opener against Arkansas State, six Huskers made their first career starts at Nebraska. Five of those players were making their first college starts in addition to Tanner Lee making his first start in Lincoln.

First-Time starters in 2017
• Tyler Hoppes, TE (3)
• Connor Ketter, TE (3)
• Luke Gifford, LB (3)
• Eric Lee Jr., CB (3)
• Tre Bryant, IB (2)
• Matt Farniok, RFr., OT (2)
• Mikale Wilbon, Jr., IB (1)
• JD Spielman, RFr., WR (1)

Huskers Striving for Balanced Offensive Attack
The Nebraska offense will continue to strive for a balanced attack in 2017. The Huskers got off to a good start in that area in the season-opening win over Arkansas State, but have not been as strong in the run game the past two weeks.

The Huskers rushed for 225 yards against the Red Wolves, while passing for 238 yards. It marked the first time NU had topped 200 yards in both rushing and passing since accomplishing that feat in three straight wins against Oregon, Northwestern and Illinois in 2016.

• The Huskers showed the ability to feature explosive plays on offense. NU had a pair of runs of better than 20 yards, and had three pass plays of at least 25 yards. The Huskers backed that up with one 20-yard rush at Oregon and six pass plays of at least 20 yards. 

• Running back Tre Bryant rolled up 192 rushing yards, while receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. had 102 receiving yards vs. Arkansas State. It marked the first time Nebraska has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game since a 2014 victory over Illinois when Ameer Abdullah ran for 208 yards and Kenny Bell had 105 receiving yards.

• Bryant and Morgan duplicated the feat at Oregon, with Bryant rushing for 107 yards and Morgan posting 103 receiving yards. This marked the first time Nebraska has had consecutive games with a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver since 1983. Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier and No. 1 NFL Draft pick Irving Fryar accomplished the feat against Minnesota and UCLA. 

Bryant Looks to Return to Carry Husker Run Game
Sophomore I-back Tre Bryant earned the starting job with a strong preseason practice effort. The 5-11, 200-pound Bryant showed through two games when he sits atop the depth chart.

Bryant was strong in games against Arkansas State and Oregon, topping the century mark in both contests. However, he missed the Northern Illinois contest with a knee injury, but hopes to return soon. 

Bryant carried 31 times for 192 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. It marked the most rushing yards for a Husker in 25 games, dating back to Terrell Newby's 198 yards against South Alabama in 2015. Bryant responded with 20 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown at Oregon before leaving with an injury. 

• Bryant's 31 carries against Arkansas State were the most by a Husker since Ameer Abdullah carried 35 times for 229 yards against Miami in September of 2014. 

• Bryant's previous career highs were 13 carries for 56 yards against Maryland last season. Bryant reached those totals before halftime against Arkansas State with 13 carries for 78 yards before intermission.

• With his second straight 100-yard rushing day at Oregon, Bryant was the first Husker to post back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to start the season since Ameer Abdullah in 2013. 

• Bryant's 299 rushing yards through two games was the best by a Husker since Taylor Martinez rushed for 301 yards in the first two games in 2011. Bryant's total was the most by a Husker running back since Marlon Lucky rushed for 323 yards in the first two games of the 2007 season. 

• Bryant has posted the three longest runs of his career over the first two games. He had runs of 24 and 35 yards against Arkansas State and had a 25-yard rush at Oregon.

• Bryant has been impressive on first down through two games. He is averaging 6.5 yards per carry on 36 first-down rushes. Bryant has two touchdowns and eight runs for a first down on his 36 first-down carries. 

• Bryant would top the Big Ten in rushing average at 149.5 yards per game if he qualified by playing 75 percent of games. His 192-yard effort against Arkansas State is the 13th-best rushing outing of the 2017 season in the FBS ranks.  

Veteran Receiing Duo Leading Passing Attack
Nebraska has the luxury of two veteran and proven pass catchers to lead the receiving corps. Senior De'Mornay Pierson-El and junior Stanley Morgan Jr. Both have extensive playing experience and are off to strong starts in 2017. Morgan has 18 receptions for 299 yards, while Pierson-El has caught 14 passes for 188 yards.

The duo leads a receiving corps that also features a pair of explosive newcomers in redshirt freshman JD Spielman and true freshman Tyjon Lindsey. 

• The 299 receiving yards by Morgan through two games is the second-most in NU history through the season's first three contests. Morgan's 18 catches through three games is the most in school history. 

• The Nebraska season record for 100-yard receiving games is four by six Huskers, most recently Jordan Westerkamp in 2015. 

• Morgan had seven catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns at Oregon, setting career highs in all three  categories. His seven catches bettered five-reception efforts on two previous occasions. His 103 yards were one yard better than his 102 yards in the season opener. 

• Morgan had touchdown catches of 28 and 18 yards at Oregon, marking his first career multiple-TD game. 

• Morgan surpassed the 1,000-yard career receiving mark with his effort against Northern Illinois. Morgan is the 25th Husker to surpass 1,000 career receiving yards, and ranks 24th in NU history with 1,056 career yards. 

• Morgan was Nebraska's second-leading receiver last season with 33 catches for 453 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

• Pierson-El earned All-America honors as a punt returner in 2014 and has continued to grow as a receiver. He had  a 12-yard touchdown against Arkansas State in the opener and had four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown at Oregon. He tied his career high with eight receptions against Northern Illinois, while his 101 receiving yards, was just one shy of his career best. 

• Pierson-El is poised to quickly join Morgan in the 1,000-yard club. Pierson-El has 69 receptions for 874 yards in his NU career. 

• Pierson-El is a versatile performer who is an electrifying punt returner and is used in the NU run game. Against Arkansas State, he rushed two times for 23 yards and narrowly missed a 71-yard touchdown run as he just stepped out of bounds.

Nebraska's full notes package can be found in the PDF file at the top of this page


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