Nebraska goes back on the road this Saturday, traveling to Lawrence, for a Big 12 North Division matchup with Kansas. The game is set to kick off shortly after 2:30 p.m. from KU’s Memorial Stadium, with ABC providing regional television coverage of the contest.
Nebraska enters the game with a 6-3 overall record and a 3-2 mark in the Big 12 Conference, following a 10-3 victory over 20th-ranked Oklahoma last Saturday in Lincoln. The win ended a four-game losing streak against the Sooners and marked the Huskers’ second win over a ranked foe this season. Nebraska is right in the thick of the North Division race, standing a half-game behind division leader Kansas State.
Kansas stands at 5-4 on the season, including 1-4 in Big 12 Conference play, after a 17-10 loss at Kansas State last Saturday. KU began the season 5-0, but has suffered four consecutive setbacks in Big 12 action. Despite the losses, KU remains a dangerous foe, featuring one of the Big 12’s most explosive offensive attacks.
Nebraska holds an 89-23-3 lead in the all-time series between the two schools, including a 46-8-1 advantage in Lawrence. The home team has held its own in recent years, winning the past five meetings in the series dating back to a 24-3 Nebraska win in Lawrence in 2003.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 16-7 record in his second season with the Huskers. Pelini guided Nebraska to nine wins in his first season as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich as the only Nebraska coaches to win nine games in their first season leading the Cornhuskers. Prior to taking over as the Huskers’ head coach, Pelini served as defensive coordinator at NU, Oklahoma and LSU. Previously, he had stints as an NFL assistant with San Francisco, New England and Green Bay.
Kansas: Mark Mangino (Youngstown State, ‘87) is in his seventh season as the Kansas head coach and holds a 50-45 record with the Jayhawks. Mangino has guided the Jayhawks to four bowl appearances and was the national coach of the year in 2007, when he guided KU to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory.
Huskers Look to Continue Big 12 Road Success
Nebraska travels to Kansas Saturday afternoon for a key Big 12 North Division contest. A win would allow the Huskers to keep pace with Kansas State atop the divisional standings. In order to do so, Nebraska will need to improve to 3-0 on the road in Big 12 play, having previously picked up wins at Missouri and Baylor.
The Huskers also won their final conference road game in 2008, a 56-28 win at Kansas State and are searching for their fourth straight conference road win.
· Nebraska has not won four straight Big 12 road games since winning its final two league road games in 1999 and its first two Big 12 contests away from home in 2000.
· A win would give the Huskers three Big 12 road wins in 2009. Nebraska has posted three or more conference road wins just five times in the first 13 seasons of the Big 12 Conference.
Points Hard to Come By Against Nebraska Defense
Nebraska has allowed 93 points in nine games, and the 10.3 points per game average ranks first in the Big 12 and second in the nation, trailing only Florida’s 10.1 points per game. Since 1990, NU has allowed fewer than 93 points through nine games just once with 90 points in the first nine games of 1996. NU had also allowed 93 points through nine games in 1990.
· The last time a Nebraska defense finished the season allowing fewer than 15 points per game was in 2003, when NU allowed 14.5 points per contest. Its current defensive scoring average would be the best for a Blackshirt defense since NU allowed a nation-leading 9.5 points per game in 1984.
· The Nebraska defense has surrendered eight offensive touchdowns this season (two opponent defensive TD), including just three passing touchdowns. The Blackshirts did not allow a touchdown until the second quarter of the second game, as the Huskers held their opponents out of the end zone for the first five quarters of the year, the longest season-opening streak since 1994. The 2009 Blackshirts became just the third NU team in the past 40 seasons to not allow a touchdown in the season opener.
· The Husker defense has a current streak of 10 straight quarters without allowing an offensive touchdown. A second-quarter touchdown pass by Iowa State is the last time the opposing offense scored a touchdown. Nebraska has allowed only five offensive touchdowns in five Big 12 games.
· Nebraska held its first five opponents under 20 points for the first time since a streak of five games to open the 2003 season and has held eight of nine opponents to fewer than 20 points. To put that accomplishment in perspective, Nebraska held just six opponents to less than 20 points in 2007 and 2008 combined.
· The Huskers’ 55-0 shutout of Louisiana-Lafayette marked Nebraska’s first whitewashing of an opponent since a 56-0 win over Troy on Sept. 23, 2006.
· NU has limited five opponents to single digits in 2009. The last time NU had more opponents score less than 10 points was in 2003 when the Huskers held six foes to nine points or less. NU head coach Bo Pelini was Nebraska’s defensive coordinator in that season.
· Nebraska will face a big test this week. Kansas ranks fifth in the Big 12 in scoring offense at nearly 31 points per game. KU has also scored at least 32 points in each of the past four meetings with Nebraska.
Huskers Putting Together Strong Defensive Stretch
After surrendering 358 yards of total offense to Florida Atlantic in the season opener, the Husker defense held seven consecutive opponents to fewer than 280 total yards. The seven-game streak of holding opposing offenses under 300 total yards was the longest at Nebraska since the 1996 Blackshirts held eight straight opponents under 300 yards of total offense.
Ironically, the streak ended in arguably Nebraska’s top defensive performance of the season–a 10-3 win over Oklahoma. Despite allowing 325 yards, the Blackshirts allowed just 3.7 yards per play and held the Sooners more than 100 yards under their total offensive average.
Nebraska is allowing an average 274.0 total yards per game to rank third in the Big 12 and 11th nationally.
· Included in Nebraska’s seven-game streak of sub-280 yard defensive efforts were four Big 12 games. That marked the first time the Huskers have held four straight Big 12 opponents to fewer than 300 yards of total offense since the eight-game streak in 1996.
· Nebraska’s current average of 274.0 yards per game would be the best by a Blackshirt defense since the 1999 defense allowed an average of 252.3 yards per game to rank fourth in the nation. Nebraska has finished in the top 15 nationally in total defense just twice since 1999 (8th, 2001; 11th, 2003).
Huskers Stack up the Run
Nebraska’s five Big 12 foes have averaged just 77.4 rushing yards, and the Huskers have allowed no rush of longer than 23 yards in conference play. Each of NU’s last seven opponents has averaged fewer than 3.0 yards per rush.
The Husker run defense has been strong since the middle of last season, helping key Nebraska’s overall defensive transformation.
· For the season, NU is allowing 94.4 rushing yards per game to rank fourth in the Big 12 and 10th nationally.
· The Huskers’ strong play against the run began at Virginia Tech. The NU run defense held the Hokies to just 86 rushing yards, after VT entered the game 13th nationally in rushing at 254.0 yards per game.
· NU has limited eight of its last 11 opponents to 102 or fewer rushing yards.
· The longest rush against NU in Big 12 Conference play was a 23-yard run by Missouri on the game’s final play.
· The only other run of longer than 20 yards by a Big 12 opponent was a 20-yard run by Iowa State on a fake punt.
· Texas Tech managed just 25 rushing yards and the Nebraska defense had five sacks and 13 tackles for loss against the Red Raiders. Baylor rushed for just 54 yards on 32 carries and NU had a season-high seven sacks vs. the Bears, and 13 tackles for loss. The seven sacks were the most by the Huskers since the season opener against Maine in 2005 when NU tied the school record with 11 sacks.
· During Nebraska’s past 13 games its run defense has played a key role in the success. The Huskers have allowed an average of just 82.6 rushing yards in those contests.
No Free Passes
Nebraska is allowing an average of 179.6 yards per game through the air. That figure not only ranks among the national leaders, but it is on a strong pace in the Nebraska record books. NU last allowed fewer than 180 passing yards per game in 2003, when Nebraska allowed 177.8 passing yards per game.
· The Blackshirts have held six opponents to 50 percent or less passing and have limited four foes to fewer than 150 passing yards. Opponents are completing just 49.8 percent of their passes against Nebraska, the sixth-best mark in the country and tops in the Big 12.
· Nebraska has allowed just three passing touchdowns in nine games. That mark is tied for the national lead with Air Force, however Nebraska opponents have attempted 86 more passes than Air Force’s. The Huskers are the only team in the nation allowing a touchdown on less than 1 percent of opponent’s pass attempts.
· NU’s pass efficiency defense rating of 89.7 points ranks second nationally behind top-ranked Florida. Nebraska led the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2003 with an 88.7 rating.