Minneapolis, Minn. - No. 13 Nebraska scored on all five of its offensive possessions in the first half and added a defensive score to jump to a 34-0 halftime lead on its way to a 41-14 victory at Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, which came in front of 49,187 fans at TCF Bank Stadium and an ABC television audience, the Huskers improved to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. The Golden Gophers slipped to 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
The victory marked Nebraska's 15th straight in the all-time series with the Gophers, and gave the Huskers their first Big Ten Conference road win in history.
Nebraska dominated in every phase of the game, amassing a season-high 515 yards of total offense compared to just 254 for the Golden Gophers. In fact 89 of Minnesota's 254 yards came on its final drive of the game against Husker reserves, which took 16 plays and chewed up 7:59 on the game clock.
"I thought we played a good football game," Coach Bo Pelini said. "I thought we came out fast. I thought we did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball and special teams. I thought it was a pretty complete effort."
Junior I-back Rex Burkhead led the Huskers by producing his second straight 100-yard rushing effort with 117 yards and one score on 23 attempts. Burkhead's fourth 100-yard performance of the season and eighth of his career powered a Husker ground game that rolled for a season-high 346 yards. That total bettered NU's previous season best of 333 yards at Wyoming, while giving the Huskers their third 300-yard rushing effort of the year.
In the process, Burkhead became the 26th Husker in history to cross the 2,000-yard career rushing mark. He finished the day with 2,049 career yards, including a team-leading 752 and 10 touchdowns through seven games this season for the Plano, Texas, native.
Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez provided balance for the Huskers by completing 13-of-22 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown, while Brion Carnes completed his only pass attempt for seven yards in the second half. Martinez added 52 yards rushing on just 10 carries, while eight different Huskers recorded carries on the afternoon.
Nebraska's most explosive rushing play came from wide receiver Kenny Bell, who provided a career highlight with his 82-yard touchdown run on a reverse early in the second quarter to put the Huskers up 17-0. Bell's run, which was the longest touchdown run by a freshman in Nebraska history, also marked NU's longest touchdown run since Cory Ross uncorked an 86-yard scoring sprint against Missouri on Oct. 30, 2004. Bell added four receptions for 25 yards on the day.
Freshman Braylon Heard added seven carries for 42 yards after missing NU's past two contests with an injury. Fellow freshman I-back Ameer Abdullah contributed seven carries of his own for 30 yards. Freshman I-back Aaron Green pitched in six carries for 20 yards and a third-quarter touchdown.
Senior Brandon Kinnie contributed one of his best receiving days of the season with two catches for 58 yards, including a career-long 61-yard reception midway through the second quarter to set up Nebraska's fourth offensive score of the day. Ben Cotton (25 yards) and Jamal Turner (20 yards) each pitched in a pair of receptions on the afternoon for the Huskers as well.
Fullback Tyler Legate added a 10-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, which pushed Nebraska's lead to 10-0, after Brett Maher opened the scoring for the Huskers with a 22-yard field goal with 8:03 left in the game. It was the first on two field goals on the day for Maher, who has hit 13-of-16 on the season with all three misses coming from 50 yards or more.
Senior safety Austin Cassidy provided Nebraska's biggest defensive highlight by scooping up a second-quarter fumble by Minnesota quarterback MarQuies Gray and plunging into the end zone for Cassidy's second career touchdown. Cassidy's touchdown gave the Huskers a 27-0 lead and gave Nebraska its first fumble return for a score since Daniel Bullocks scored against Wake Forest in 2005.
Cassidy joined senior linebacker Lavonte David in leading the Blackshirt defense with six tackles apiece on the day. P.J. Smith and Andrew Green each pitched in five tackles to help the Huskers hold Minnesota to just 132 yards on the ground and just 122 through the air.
Nebraska opens a two-game homestand at Memorial Stadium next Saturday, when the Huskers play host to Michigan State. Game time and television coverage for the game against the Spartans will be announced Sunday.
Final: #13 Nebraska 41, Minnesota 14
Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011
TCF Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, Minn.)
First Quarter (NEB, 10-0)
NEB - 8:03 - Brett Maher 22 FG - 11 plays, 47 yards, 4:09, NEB 3-0
NEB - 3:27 - Tyler Legate 10 pass from Taylor Martinez (Maher kick) - 10 plays, 65 yards, 3:36, NEB 10-0
Second Quarter (NEB, 34-0)
NEB - 14:38 - Kenny Bell 82 run (Maher kick) - 1 play, 82 yards, 0:15, NEB 17-0
NEB - 9:49 - Maher 25 FG - 6 plays, 68 yards, 2:06, NEB 20-0
NEB - 9:34 - Austin Cassidy 11 fumble return (Maher kick) - NEB 27-0
NEB - 0:33 - Rex Burkhead 4 run (Maher kick) - 14 plays, 73 yards, 5:35, NEB 34-0
Third Quarter (NEB, 41-7)
MINN - 6:45 - MarQueis Gray 5 run (Chris Hawthorne kick) - 4 plays, 57 yards, 1:56, NEB 34-7
NEB - 0:39 - Aaron Green 4 run (Mauro Bondi kick) - 17 plays, 91 yards, 6:06, NEB 41-7
Fourth Quarter (NEB, 41-14)
MINN - 1:41 - Duane Bennett 6 run (Hawthorne kick) - 16 plays, 89 yards, 7:59, NEB 41-14
Final: #13 Nebraska 41, Minnesota 14
Time of Game: 2:59
Game Start: 2:36 p.m. (central)