Huskers Enter the Big House on Saturday
GAME 11: NEBRASKA at MICHIGAN
NOV. 19, 2011 | MICHIGAN STADIUM
ANN ARBOR, MICH. | 11 A.M. (CT)
Record: 8-2, 4-2
Rankings: Coaches-16; AP-17
Last Game: def. Penn State, 17-14
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 38-14/4th year
vs. UM: 0-0
Record: 8-2, 4-2
Rankings: Coaches-18; AP-20
Last Game: def. Illinois, 31-14
Coach: Brady Hoke
Career|UM Record: 55-53/9th year | 8-2/1st year
vs. NU: 0-1
Nebraska completes the road portion of its 2011 schedule on Saturday when it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on the Wolverines in a Big Ten Legends Division matchup. The matchup of two of the four winningest programs in college football history will be televised by ESPN and kickoff is set for Noon ET at Michigan Stadium.
The Huskers improved to 4-2 in the Big Ten and 8-2 overall with a hard-fought 17-14 victory at Penn State on Saturday. Nebraska jumped to a 17-0 lead midway through the third quarter and held off a late Nittany Lion rally to secure the victory. The win kept Nebraska one game behind Legends Divison leader Michigan State with two games to play in the regular season. The victory also allowed Nebraska to climb two spots to 17th in the AP poll, one place to No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and NU is No. 16 in the latest BCS rankings.
Michigan will also bring an 8-2 overall record and a 4-2 mark in Big Ten play into Saturday’s game, following a 31-14 victory at Illinois on Saturday. The Wolverines also need a victory on Saturday to keep their hopes of playing
in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game alive. Michigan is ranked 20th in this week’s Associated Press poll, 18th in the coaches poll and checks in at 18th in the BCS rankings.
Michigan is the winningest college football program of all-time with 892 victories, while Nebraska is in fourth at 845 wins. The game is also likely to feature the largest crowd ever to witness a Nebraska football game. The Huskers have played in front of just two crowds of more than 100,000 fans, with the crowd of 110,753 at Penn State in 2002 being the largest crowd for a Nebraska game in its 122-year history.
Saturday’s game will be the first regular-season meeting between the two schools since 1962, when NU won at Michigan 25-13 in Bob Devaney’s first season as head coach. The two most recent meetings have come in bowl games, with Michigan winning the 1986 Fiesta Bowl and NU capturing a 32-28 win in the 2005 Alamo Bowl.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 37-14 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.
Penn State: Brady Hoke (Ball State, ‘82) holds an 8-2 record in his first season at Michigan, and a 55-53 record in his ninth season overall as a college head coach. Hoke previously served as head coach at Ball State (2003-08) and San Diego State (2009-10) before taking over in Ann Arbor in January.
*-Nebraska is 845-347-40 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 411 wins, 26 more than any other school.
*-Nebraska's 99 football Academic All-Americans leads the nation.
*-The Huskers have had 107 All-Americans in school history.
Saturday’s matchup pits a pair of 8-2 teams tied for second place in the Big Ten Legends Division with 4-2 marks in conference play. While Nebraska has suffered one of its two losses on the road, Michigan has won both of its Big Ten home games and is a perfect 5-0 at home this season. The Wolverines’ losses came on the road at then- No. 23 Michigan State and at Iowa. Michigan snapped a two-game road losing streak with a 31-14 win at Illinois last Saturday.
Like Nebraska, Michigan features a dynamic dual-threat quarterback. The
Wolverines’ Denard Robinson ranks 36th nationally with an average of 96.0 rushing yards per game, a total that ranks third among quarterbacks. Robinson is also completing 53.5 percent of his passes, while averaging 170.9 passing yards per game.
Behind Robinson, the Wolverines rank 11th nationally in rushing at 235.9 yards per game. Michigan ranks 84th in the nation with an average of 200.4
passing yards per game, but the Wolverines are averaging an impressive 15.9 yards per catch. The UM offense averages 6.5 yards per play overall. Michigan has topped 30 points in seven of its eight wins, while totaling 30
combined points in its two losses.
Defensively, the Wolverines rank seventh nationally in scoring defense (16.1 ppg). Michigan allows only 130.9 rushing yards per game and 191.3 passing yards per contest. The Wolverines have forced 19 fumbles through 10
games and recovered 16 of those fumbles.
Michigan leads the all-time series wtih Nebraska by a slim 3-2-1 margin. The Huskers won the last meeting between the programs, upseting No. 20 Michigan, 32-28, in the 2005 Alamo Bowl that featured a dramatic ending. Nebraska overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to earn the win, but not before Michigan’s final play came close to finding the end zone following a series of laterals. The teams also met in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, with No. 5 Michigan handing No. 7 Nebraska a 27-23 loss.
The teams have not met in the regular season since first-year Nebraska head coach Bob Devaney led the Cornhuskers to a 25-13 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1962. That is Nebraska’s only win in Ann Arbor, as the Huskers were shut out in losses in 1905 and 1917. The taems also played to a 6-6 tie in the only meeting in Lincoln in 1911.
Michigan and Nebraska are two of only eight programs with 800 all-time wins.
The Wolverines rank first on that list with 892 wins, while Nebraska is fourth at 84.
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Brady Hoke is in his first season at Michigan, and has guided the Wolverines to
their best start since 2006 and their first eight-win season since 2007. With his 8-2 record to start his Michigan coaching career, Hoke has improved his career coaching record to 55-53 in nine seasons.
Before taking the Michigan job, Hoke coached two seasons at San Diego State. He guided the Aztecs to a 13-12 record, capped by a 9-4 campaign in 2010 when SDSU won the Poinsettia Bowl. His first head coaching job was at Ball State from 2003 to 2008. He compiled a 34-39 record in six seasons at BSU. The Cardinals improved on their previous season’s win total in each of Hoke’s final four seasons, including a 12-2 campaign in 2008, when the Cardinals opened the year 12-0.
Hoke has faced Nebraska once in his head coaching career, when his Ball State team took on the Huskers in Lincoln during the 2007 season. Nebraska won that game, but Hoke’s Cardinals gave the 24th-ranked Huskers all they could handle. Ball State led after three quarters and was up by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter before Nebraska rallied. Hoke’s offense rolled up 610 yards against the Huskers that day, throwing for 422 yards and rushing for 188 more.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his fourth season as Nebraska’s head coach and owns a 38-14 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 38-14 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 37 wins.
*-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 117 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini's defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 37 times and to 20 points or less 78 times.
*-Pelini-led defenses have 230 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 in October and are 4-2 in conference action.
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 35-7 record against Big Ten opponents since 1970. Before the loss to Northwestern, the Huskers had won nine straight game in Lincoln against conference foes dating back to a 1981 loss to Penn State.
*-Among Big Ten Conference opponents, Nebraska has faced Minnesota the most, taking on the Gophers 51 times. Minnesota holds a 29-21-2 edge in the all-time series, but Nebraska has won the past 15 meetings dating back to 1963, including this year’s 41-14 win in Minneapolis.
*-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.
*-Aside from Minnesota and Iowa, Nebraska had faced the remaining six Big Ten foes on the 2011 schedule a total of 35 times entering the season, led by 13 meetings with Penn State.
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. As of Nov. 13, Nebraska’s schedule was ranked as the nation’s fifth-most difficult slate in the
country and toughest in the Big Ten. The opposition’s winning percentage is .615.
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 was 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.