Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Play Wildcats for Big 12 North Title

By NU Athletic Communications

The Matchup

Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium for a Saturday night matchup with Kansas State, with the Big 12 North Division title on the line. It will also be Senior Night in Lincoln as 13 Cornhusker seniors will play before the home crowd for the final time. Game time for the contest is 6:45 p.m., with the contest nationally televised on ESPN.


The Huskers enter the game as winners of three straight contests, most recently a 31-17 win at Kansas last Saturday. The victory improved Nebraska to 7-3 overall on the season, and 4-2 in Big 12 Conference action.


Kansas State is just a half-game behind Nebraska in the North Division standings at 4-3 in Big 12 play and the Wildcats are 6-4 overall on the year. Saturday night’s game is the regular-season finale for the Wildcats, who not only will be playing for a Big 12 North crown, but also bowl eligibility.


The winner of Saturday’s game will pick up its fifth conference victory. Each of the other North Division teams have at least four conference losses, meaning Saturday’s victor will head to the Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, Texas on Dec. 5. Texas can clinch the South Division crown with a win over Kansas on Saturday in Austin.


The Series

Nebraska has a commanding 76-15-2 all-time edge in the series between the two schools. The Cornhuskers have a 41-8 advantage in Lincoln, including wins in 19 of the past 20 meetings at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska has won four straight overall in the series after K-State won five of seven meetings between 1998 and 2004.


The Coaches

Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 17-7 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 State: Bill Snyder (William Jewell, ‘63) is in the first season of his second stint as Kansas State’s head coach and his 18th year overall as the Wildcats coach. He has a 142-73-1 record with KSU, including a 5-12 mark against Nebraska. Snyder retired following the 2005 season, but returned to KSU for the 2009 season.


Senior Night at Memorial Stadium

Nebraska will honor its senior class before the start of Saturday night’s contest at Memorial Stadium. The 2009 group of 13 seniors is the smallest in recent memory for Nebraska. Despite the small numbers, this class is a veteran group, including...


·         The 2009 senior class includes eight players in their fifth year in the program (Brooks, Cammack, Dillard, Harvey, Hickman, O’Hanlon, Suh, Turner) and one player in his sixth year with the Cornhuskers (Christensen).

·         Four members of the senior class were originally walkon players who have earned scholarships, including Cammack, Koehler, Meyer and O’Hanlon.

·         The senior class has combined for 176 career starts entering Saturday’s game, led by three-year starters Ndamukong Suh (34), Jacob Hickman (33) and Larry Asante (32).

·         The 13 seniors come from eight states, including five homegrown Huskers, two players from California and one each from Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Maryland, Oregon and Tennessee.

·         Nebraska will also honor junior Blake Lawrence who made the decision to give up football earlier this fall after a series of concussions. Lawrence will pick up his degree this December, graduating in just 2 1/2 years.

·         Senior safety Rickey Thenarse is hopeful of receiving a medical redshirt and returning for the 2010 season, and will not be announced on Senior Night. Thenarse was lost for the season with a knee injury in the first quarter of Nebraska’s Sept. 26 contest against Louisiana-Lafayette.


Divisional Crown on the Line

The topsy-turvy 2009 Big 12 North Division race has crystalized. The winner of the Nebraska-Kansas State tilt in Lincoln will head to Arlington, Texas on Dec. 5 for the Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship Game. The winner of the game will pick up its fifth Big 12 win, and each of the other four North teams has already suffered four or more losses.


·         A Nebraska win would give the Huskers their fifth appearance in the league title game in the first 14 seasons of the league. Nebraska represented the North in the game in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2006. The five Big 12 title game appearances would likely be tied with Texas, which will clinch their fifth Big 12 Championship Game appearance with one win in its final two games. Only Oklahoma (7) has played in more Big 12 title games.

·         In addition to its appearances in the conference title game, Nebraska has also tied for the North Division crown in 2001 and 2008.

·         Kansas State would make its fourth Big 12 Championship Game appearance with a win, tying Nebraska and Colorado for the most appearances among North Division schools.


Nebraska Looking for Four Consecutive Big 12 Wins

Nebraska enters Saturday’s game with a three-game winning streak in Big 12 action, having won road games at Baylor and Kansas, sandwiched around a home win over Oklahoma. The three-game conference winning streak marks just the third time since 2001 that Nebraska has won three straight conference games.


·         A win on Saturday would give NU four straight Big 12 wins, matching the four straight wins spanning the last three games of last season and this year’s win at Missouri. The last time Nebraska won four straight Big 12 games in the same


They Remember What You Do in November

Last season, Nebraska clearly played its best football in the month of November, winning its final three regular season games against Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado.


In 2009, Nebraska again appears to be hitting its stride as fall begins to turn to winter. The Huskers have defeated Oklahoma and Kansas in November to move atop the Big 12 North standings.


·         Nebraska owns a 5-1 record in games played in November under Head Coach Bo Pelini. Nebraska’s lone November loss under Pelini was at No. 4 Oklahoma on Nov. 1, 2008.

·         NU is 7-1 under Pelini in games played after Nov. 1, including last year’s Jan. 1 Gator Bowl victory and the 2003 Alamo Bowl win over Michigan State when Pelini was the interim head coach.


Nebraska’s five-game November win streak is the program’s longest since winning 19 straight games in November from 1992 to 1998.


Huskers Go for Five Straight vs. KSU

Nebraska holds a dominant 76-15-2 edge in the all-time series against Kansas State. However, the Wildcats recently had a run of success, winning five of seven meetings between 1998 and 2004. Nebraska has returned to its winning ways against the ‘Cats by posting victories in each of the past four meetings.


·         A win on Saturday night would be NU’s fifth straight over the Wildcats, marking the Huskers’ longest current win streak against a Big 12 North foe and second-longest against any Big 12 opponent (Baylor).

·         A fifth straight win would be the sixth time in the series Nebraska has won five or more consecutive games against Kansas State, including nine straight from 1911 to 1924, five straight from 1936 to 1940, 10 straight from 1943 to 1952, eight straight from 1960 to 1967 and 29 straight from 1969 to 1997.


November Night Games Rare at Memorial Stadium

The prime time contest on Saturday will be Nebraska’s second straight night home game following its 10-3 win over Oklahoma on Nov. 7. Those two contests are Nebraska’s first home night games in November since a 2002 game against Texas. The NU-Kansas State game this Saturday will mark just the fourth November home night game in school history (also vs. Kansas in 1992).


·         Nebraska has had outstanding overall success when playing under the lights at Memorial Stadium. Since the first night game in Lincoln in 1986, Nebraska is 29-5 under the lights at home, including 2009 victories over Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette and Oklahoma. Nebraska’s five losses in home night games have all come against teams who won at least 10 games in that season (Washington, 1991; Texas, 2002; USC, 2007; Virginia Tech, Missouri, 2008).

·         The Huskers’ dominance at night in Lincoln has been impressive, as 23 of the 26 home night wins have been decided by 13 points or more.


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