Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium for a Big 12 North showdown with the Missouri Tigers on Saturday afternoon. The winner will take a major step toward representing the North in the Big 12 Championship Game in early December. Kickoff between the Huskers and the Tigers is set for 2:30 p.m. (CDT) with the game televised on ABC.
The Huskers go into the game with a 6-1 overall record and a 2-1 mark in the Big 12 following an impressive 51-41 victory at No. 17 Oklahoma State. Nebraska trailed late in the second quarter in a back-and-forth offensive affair, before the Huskers took control with an outstanding all-around second-half display. The victory represented the highest ranked team Nebraska has defeated since 2001, and helped the Huskers stay at No. 14 in the AP poll and move up to 12th in the coaches poll.
Nebraska will face its second straight unbeaten and nationally ranked foe when Missouri comes to town. The Tigers are ranked seventh in the AP poll and eighth according to the coaches. Mizzou is one of the nation's seven remaining unbeatens after its 36-27 win over BCS No. 1 Oklahoma last Saturday night in Columbia.
A Nebraska win would pull it even with Missouri in the Big 12 North standings, while the Tigers could forge a two-game lead with a win. Either Nebraska or Missouri has represented the North in the last four Big 12 title games.
Nebraska holds a 64-35-3 all-time edge between the two schools, including a 33-15-1 advantage in Lincoln. Missouri snapped a 15-game NU winning streak in Lincoln in 2008, before Nebraska rebounded last season with its first win in Columbia since 2001. The Tigers have not won back-to-back games in Lincoln since 1976 and 1978.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, '90) owns a 26-9 record in his third season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first two seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat. Pelini is the first coach in Big 12 history to guide his team to at least a share of division titles in each of his first two seasons.
Missouri: Gary Pinkel (Kent State, '73) is in his 10th season as Missouri's head coach and has a 74-46 record with the Tigers. Pinkel has guided MU to six bowl appearances. He is 4-5 against Nebraska.
Nebraska is 833-342-40 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 46 all-time bowl appearances rank fifth nationally. Since 1970, Nebraska has 399 wins, 25 more than any other school. Nebraska's 98 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation. The Huskers have had 107 All-Americans in school history.
NOTING GAME 7...NEBRASKA 51, OKLAHOMA STATE 41
*-The win marked Nebraska's sixth straight road victory, and seventh straight Big 12 road victory.
*-The victory over No. 17 Oklahoma State marked the highest ranked team NU has defeated since a 20-10 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma in 2001, and the highest ranked team the Huskers have defeated on the road since a 27-14 win at No. 2 Washington in 1997.
*-Niles Paul had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter, tying for the second-longest kickoff return in school history. The return is the longest for Nebraska since Ron Clark had a 100-yard return at Kansas State in 1949. The school record is a 105-yard return by Owen Frank against Kansas State in 1911. It was Paul's second kickoff return for a touchdown in his career (85 yards vs. San Jose State, 2008).
*-Paul caught a career-high nine passes for 131 yards. He moved into eighth place on both the career receptions and career receiving yardage lists. The game marked Paul's fifth career 100-yard receiving game.
*-Paul accounted for a career-high 274 all-purpose yards, his fourth career game with at least 200 all-purpose yards (244 vs. KU, 237 vs. Arizona, 208 vs. ISU all in 2009). Paul moved into fifth on NU's career all-purpose yardage list.
*-Senior Alex Henery ran for 27 yards on a fake punt on 4th-and-8 in the first quarter. The run set up a touchdown that gave NU a 7-0 lead. The run was the second of Henery's career, as he previously rushed for nine yards and a first down on a fourth-quarter fake field goal against Kansas in 2008.
*-Henery connected on field goals of 52, 32 and 45 yards, giving him 59 career field goals, passing Kris Brown's previous school record of 57 field goals. Henery has made 17 straight field goals dating back to 2009 to tie Brown's school record. Henery has 15 multiple FG games in his career, including the past three games.
*-Henery's 52-yard field goal was the fourth of his career from 50+ yards and tied the longest ever by a Nebraska player away from Lincoln (Kevin Seibel, 52 at Colorado, 1980; Henery, 52 vs. Texas, 2009).
*-Nebraska scored a touchdown 3:40 into the game to take a 7-0 lead. The score continued an impressive trend for Nebraska away from Lincoln. The Huskers have scored in the first four minutes of the game in six of their past eight games away from Lincoln, including two of three games this season (Washington, OSU).
*-Nebraska has scored on its opening possession in five of seven games this season, including touchdowns in all three road games. Overall, Nebraska has scored on its opening possession in seven of its last nine games.
*-Nebraska redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez completed 23-of-35 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns. The five touchdown passes marked a career best for Martinez and tied for the second highest total in school history. Martinez's 323 passing yards are the most ever for a Nebraska freshman (Eric Crouch 193 yards vs. Arizona in 1998 Holiday Bowl), and the five touchdown passes were also a Nebraska freshman record.
*-Martinez also carried the ball 19 times for 112 yards, marking his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season. His 435 yards of total offense was the third-highest total in NU history and broke his own Nebraska freshman record of 369 yards at Kansas State. His effort marked just the seventh 400-yard total offense game in NU history.
*-With 323 passing yards and 112 rushing yards, Martinez became the first Nebraska player to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards. Martinez was also the first to pass for 200 and rush for 100 yards in a game.
*-Junior Brandon Kinnie caught a 45-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to open the scoring, then added a nine-yard TD in the second quarter and an eight-yarder in the fourth. Those were the first three TD catches of his career. Kinnie's three TD receptions tied a school record (10th time in NU history), most recently by Maurice Purify at Colorado in 2007.
*-Fullback Tyler Legate caught a one-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, marking his second career touchdown reception (3 yards vs. Arkansas State in 2009). Legate's catch was his first of 2010 and the fourth of his career.
*-Nebraska senior safety Eric Hagg intercepted an OSU pass in the second quarter, his third interception of the season. Hagg also had picks in NU's other two road contests at Washington and at Kansas State.
*-Sophomore tight end Kyler Reed caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter for his third touchdown reception of the year. All three of Reed's touchdown catches have covered at least 33 yards (33 vs. SDSU, 79 vs. KSU).
*-Oklahoma State's 41 points ended a streak of 14 straight NU opponents who scored 21 points or fewer (Texas Tech, 31, Oct. 17, 2009). OSU's 41 points were the most against NU since Oklahoma scored 62 points in 2008. It also marked just the second time NU has won when allowing 41 or more points (63-42 vs. OSU, 1988).
NEBRASKA HEAD COACH BO PELINI
Bo Pelini is in his third season as Nebraska's head coach and owns a 26-9 record with the Huskers. Pelini has helped Nebraska to at least a share of the Big 12 North title in each of his first two seasons, becoming the first coach in the history of the Big 12 to win at least a share of a division title in each of his first two seasons.
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 26-9 record in his first three seasons, Pelini put himself in some impressive company.
*-Pelini is the fourth Nebraska head coach to win nine games in each of his first two seasons with the Cornhuskers. The others to reach that win plateau were Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich
*-Pelini's nine victories in 2008 tied for the most among 18 coaches in their first season at their respective school. Among first-time head coaches, Pelini's victory total was the best in the nation. Pelini's 19 victories in his first two seasons are second among the hiring class of 2008.
*-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.
PELINI CONTINUES DEFENSIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS AT NEBRASKA
Pelini has led an amazing defensive turnaround at Nebraska. The 2008 Nebraska defense was one of the nation's most improved units. In his first season, Pelini helped Nebraska finish second in the Big 12 in total defense, a year after the Huskers were 100th or worse in nearly every defensive category. Last fall, Nebraska was dominant on defense and its improvement was just as impressive. The Huskers led the nation in total defense and had the nation's best scoring defensive improvement (18.1 ppg).
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 101 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini's defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 34 times and to 20 points or less 66 times.
*- Pelini-led defenses have 206 total takeaways, including two top-three national rankings.
STAFF INTACT FOR THIRD STRAIGHT SEASON
Nebraska was long known for coaching staff continuity under Hall of Fame Coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. Third-year Head Coach Bo Pelini appears to embrace that same philosophy. NU is in its third straight season with its staff intact in 2010, as all nine full-time assistants enter at least their third season on the Husker sideline.
Nebraska is one of only nine schools nationally to have the same full-time coaching staff for at least the past three years, including only Baylor and Texas in the Big 12. Prior to last season, Nebraska had not had its full coaching staff remain the same from one season to the next since 2001 to 2002 when Frank Solich's staff was unchanged.
Pelini's staff had extensive ties to Nebraska and the Big 12 prior to the 2008 season. Every member of the Husker coaching staff had prior experience in the Big 12 before joining forces for the Huskers.
Missouri enters the game with a No. 7 national ranking by AP and a No. 6 mark in the BCS, marking the second straight time the Tigers will enter Memorial Stadium with a top-10 ranking. Missouri is one of only seven remaining unbeaten teams in the country after coming from behind in the fourth quarter for a 36-27 win over then-No. 3 Oklahoma last Saturday in a battle of the Big 12's two unbeaten teams.
The Tigers have been bolstered by a much-improved defense in 2010. Missouri currently ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense at 13.1 points per game. The Tigers finished 49th in scoring defense last season (25.4 points per game) after finishing 69th in 2008 (27.2) and 37th in 2007 (23.3) - both seasons when Missouri climbed to the top-10 of the national rankings.
Missouri has allowed only two opponents to score more than 13 points this season, while the Tigers rank ninth nationally in sacks.
Missouri has also continued to field a top offense this season. The Tigers are averaging 34.7 points per game, which ties for the 24th-highest total in the country, led by a passing offense that ranks 16th nationally at 286.4 yards per game.
The Tigers are on the road for only the second time this season today. Missouri posted a 30-9 win at Texas A&M on Oct. 16 in its first road game of the year.
Nebraska and Missouri are meeting for the 104th time tonight and for the 89th consecutive season dating back to 1922. The Huskers leads the all-time series, 64-36-3. In last year's meeting, Nebraska matched the largest fourth quarter comeback in school history, scoring 27 points to erase a 12-point deficit and rally for a 27-12 win in Columbia.
Nebraska owned a 24-game win streak over the Tigers from 1979 to 2002. Missouri snapped that streak with a win in 2003, and the Tigers have won four of the seven meetings since that victory. MU won the last meeting in Lincoln, cruising to a 52-17 victory over the Huskers in 1998. That marked Missouri's first win at Memorial Stadium in 30 years, as overall, Nebraska owns a 33-15-1 advantage in Lincoln. The Huskers are 15-1 against Missouri at home since 1980.
The Missouri series has provided some memorable moments and a few milestones for Nebraska. The first overtime game in Husker history came in 1997 after the infamous Matt Davision catch in the end zone marked the tying score with no time left in regulation. The Huskers went on to win 45-38 in overtime to keep their perfect national championship season alive.
Nebraska's 600th all-time win came in a 48-17 victory over Missouri in 1986, while the Huskers played all-time game Nos. 400 (1938), 600 (1959) and 900 (1985) against the Tigers. Missouri also handed Husker coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne their first NU losses, while the 1962 game in Lincoln marked the first game of Nebraska's NCAA-record sellout streak.
MISSOURI HEAD COACH GARY PINKEL
Gary Pinkel is in his 10th season at Missouri and owns a 74-46 record with the Tigers. He has guided Missouri to a school-record five straight bowl appearances, while ranking third in Tiger history with 74 wins, including a school-record 12-win campaign in 2007. Under Pinkel, the Tigers have represented the North Division in the Big 12 Championship Game in two of the past three seasons.
Before arriving in Columbia, Pinkel guided Toledo to a 73-37-3 record in 10 years at the school from 1991 to 2000. His final Rocket team finished 10-1 in 2000, while his 1995 squad finished 11-0-1 in only his fifth year as a head coach.
HUSKERS, MIZZOU DOMINATE BIG 12 NORTH
The winner of Saturday's matchup between Nebraska and Missouri will have an excellent chance of representing the Big 12 North in this year's conference title game. The Huskers and Tigers have combined to represent the North Division in each of the past four championship games, including Nebraska in 2006 and 2009 and MU in 2007 and 2008. Nebraska and Missouri have split the four games in those seasons.
*-The two schools have held the upper hand against the rest of the Big 12 North during the same time period. Since the start of the 2006 conference season, Nebraska is 14-3 against the other four members of the Big 12 North, while Missouri has a 15-2 record in the same stretch.
WILL RECENT SERIES HISTORY HOLD?
Nebraska and Missouri enter the contest both ranked in the top 14 of the national polls, and on paper the game appears to be one that could be decided by a close margin. Such a result, however, would be a rarity in recent series history.
*-None of the past 11 meetings between the two schools have been decided by single digits. The closest game in that stretch is a 24-13 Nebraska victory in 2002. Nebraska defeated Missouri 20-13 in 1998, the last time the game was decided by 10 or fewer points.
*-The recent history of large victory margins is a series oddity. In the decades of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, 19 of the 30 meetings between the schools were decided by 11 or fewer points.
Victory Bell at Stake
Nebraska and Missouri will battle for the Victory Bell. The two teams have played for the bell every year since 1927. Nebraska's Innocents Society started the exchange of the bell at that time, and the bell is kept by either NU's Innocents Society or the QEBH Society at the University of Missouri. The Missouri-Nebraska Victory Bell is mounted on a wooden stand with past scores engraved on plates. It is traditionally displayed on the sideline near the previous winner's bench.
NU ATTEMPTS TO PICK UP SECOND STRAIGHT WIN OVER RANKED OPPONENT
Nebraska went on the road last week and defeated an unbeaten and 17th-ranked Oklahoma State team, 51-41. This week the Huskers will face a second-straight unbeaten and nationally ranked foe. Missouri enters the game 7-0 and ranked seventh by the Associated Press this week.
*-A victory on Saturday would mark the first time Nebraska has defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games since defeating No. 25 Missouri (34-20) and No. 24 Texas A&M (28-27) in 2006. Nebraska last defeated a pair of teams ranked 20th or higher in consecutive games at the end of the 1999 season when NU knocked off No. 12 Texas in the Big 12 title game and sixth-ranked Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl.
*-The win at No. 17 Oklahoma State marked the highest ranked team NU defeated since a win over No. 2 Oklahoma in 2001 in Lincoln. A victory this Saturday against Missouri would be NU's first over a top-10 opponent since that win over the Sooners. NU has lost 12 straight games vs. top-10 foes (0-4 under Pelini).
*-The 17th-ranked Cowboys were the highest ranked team NU had defeated on the road since a 27-14 win at No. 2 Washington in September of 1997.
*-Missouri has been ranked each of the past five times Nebraska has faced the Tigers. NU defeated No. 25 Mizzou in 2006, suffered losses to No. 17 Missouri in 2007 and the No. 4 Tigers in 2008. The Huskers knocked off 24th-ranked MU in Columbia last season.
*-Nebraska's win at Oklahoma State was its third win over a ranked team away from home in the past two seasons, including the win at Missouri last year and a victory over No. 22 Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.
*-Nebraska is 4-2 against ranked teams since the start of the 2009 season. The Huskers were 3-2 against ranked teams in 2009, marking their most wins over ranked teams since four wins over ranked foes during a 12-1 campaign in 1999.
*-Nebraska last posted multiple wins over ranked teams in back-to-back seasons in 2000 and 2001. Nebraska won at least two games against ranked teams in 11 straight seasons from 1991 to 2001.
HUSKERS LOOK TO TAKE DOWN A THIRD UNBEATEN BIG 12 OPPONENT
Through three Big 12 games, Nebraska has ended undefeated seasons for both Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The Huskers will look to make that two straight and three times in four Big 12 games against 7-0 Missouri on Saturday afternoon.
*-Nebraska last defeated a pair of unbeatens this late in the season was in 1995 when NU knocked off 6-0 Kansas State on Oct. 21 and defeated 12-0 Florida in the Fiesta Bowl to close the year.
Nebraska returns home this week, but will be looking to bring some of its road dominance back to Lincoln. Nebraska's 51-41 win at Oklahoma State marked the Huskers' sixth straight road victory. Each of the six wins in Nebraska's current road win streak have been by at least eight points. The winning streak is Nebraska's longest on the road since winning 10 straight road games from 1996 to 1998. The Huskers' last road loss was a 16-15 setback at Virginia Tech last season.
Nebraska has also won its last seven Big 12 road games, NU's longest streak since winning its first eight league road games when the Big 12 was formed in 1996 and 1997. Nebraska won 19 straight league road games from 1992 to 1997 (Big Eight and Big 12). The 4-0 record in Big 12 road games in 2009 was the first for Nebraska since 1997.
*-Nebraska was one of just 13 teams nationally to own a perfect conference road record in 2009.
*-Nebraska is 8-2 on the road in Big 12 play under Bo Pelini, with both losses against top-10 teams.
Nebraska has remaining Big 12 road games at Iowa State and Texas A&M.
FAST STARTS A KEY FOR HUSKERS
Led by its quick-strike offense, Nebraska has been accustomed to fast starts this season, scoring less than nine minutes into the game in five of seven games this year. In its only loss to Texas, NU got off to a slow start with a 10-0 deficit less than seven minutes into the game and the Huskers could not recover.
*-The Huskers have scored on their opening possession in seven of their last nine games, dating back to last season. During the streak, the Huskers have scored five touchdowns (Arizona in 2009 and Western Kentucky, Washington, KSU and OSU in 2010) and two field goals (Texas in 2009 and Idaho in 2010).
*-The Huskers have been especially fast starters on the road, scoring in the first four minutes of the game six times in the past eight games away from Lincoln, in addition to the score less than nine minutes into the game at Kansas State.
*-Nebraska's 10-0 deficit after the first quarter against Texas ended a streak of 13 straight games in which NU had led or been tied after the first quarter. Nebraska has outscored the opposition 52-30 in the first quarter in 2010.
*-The quick scores have afforded Nebraska the luxury of playing with a lead. The 2010 Huskers did not trail in their first five games and were tied at 0-0 for a total of only 37:15. Nebraska trailed for the final 55 minutes against Texas, but trailed for just 5:04 at Oklahoma State.
*-Forcing turnovers has also been a key part of the quick starts. In 10 of the past 14 games, NU has forced a first-half turnover. These turnovers have resulted in seven touchdowns and two field goals.
NEBRASKA CHURNING OUT IMPRESSIVE RUSHING NUMBERS
Nebraska finds itself back among the Big 12 and national leaders in rushing offense. Nebraska is averaging 290.0 rushing yards per game to rank first in the Big 12 and fifth nationally in rushing.
The Huskers opened the season with 289 rushing yards against Western Kentucky, added 360 yards on the ground against Idaho and pounded Washington for 383 rushing yards. However, NU saved its most powerful running attack for Big 12 play, racking up 451 rushing yards at Kansas State-its most rushing yards in 109 games.
*-Before its back-to-back 300-yard rushing games in games 2 and 3, NU had not topped 300 rushing yards in consecutive games since late in the 2002 season. NU had five straight 200-yard rushing games to start the season and six overall including the Holiday Bowl, marking the longest streak for the Huskers since also posting six straight 200-yard rushing games during the 2002 season.
*-Nebraska's 451 rushing yards at Kansas State were its most since posting 641 rushing yards at Baylor in 2001. It also marked just the Huskers' second 400-yard rushing game in the past seven seasons (413 vs. Nevada, 2007).
*-In thrashing Washington and Kansas State away from Lincoln, Nebraska rushed for more than 300 yards in back-to-back road games for the first time since 2001 when NU topped 300 rushing yards in back-to-back games at Missouri and Baylor. NU posted 217 rushing yards in its win at No. 17 Oklahoma State.
*-Nebraska has produced four of the top nine team rushing efforts since 2004 in the first half of the season, including the first, third and fifth-best rushing efforts in that stretch.
*-Nebraska had three players crack the century mark in rushing yards at Washington, as Taylor Martinez, Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead all surpassed 100 yards. The game marked the fifth time in school history Nebraska has had three players reach 100 rushing yards in the same game, and the first time it has happened since four Husker runners topped 100 yards at Baylor in 2001.
*-Martinez and Helu Jr. also teamed up to produce double 100-yard rushing games against Idaho and Kansas State. The Idaho game marked the first time since 2006 (Iowa State) NU had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game. Nebraska has now had two players rush for 100 yards in the same game 68 times in school history. Nebraska already has had nine 100-yard rushing games in 2010 after having just five each of the past two years and six in 2007.
*-On the year, Nebraska is averaging a nation-leading 6.63 yards-per-carry, just ahead of Oregon's 6.54 yards per rushing attempt.
*-Nebraska has rushed for 2,030 yards in seven games this season. In 14 games in 2009, the Huskers rushed for 2,059 yards.
HUSKERS SHOWING EXPLOSIVE ABILITY IN ALL PHASES
Nebraska has shown the ability to light up the scoreboard from anywhere on the field in 2010.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez has been the headliner in an offense that has flashed tremendous big-play ability and finds itself averaging 7.27 yards per play, the eighth-best total in the nation. That is just one of several impressive numbers posted by Nebraska in the first half of the season.
*-Nebraska has reached the end zone 35 times in seven games. The average length of those 35 touchdown plays has been 35.8 yards, with 19 of those plays covering at least 31 yards.
*-Including a pair of interception return touchdowns, Nebraska had four scoring plays of 40 yards or more against Idaho, with each of those long scores coming in the second quarter. The four 40+-yard scores marked the first time Nebraska had four touchdowns of at least 40 yards since Nov. 2, 1996 at Oklahoma when NU also had four.
*-Nebraska showed its lightning-quick scoring ability in a similar way at Washington. The Huskers opened the game with a two-play scoring drive, then scored three times in a span of less than seven minutes to open the second half, with each of those third-quarter scores covering at least 31 yards.
*-Nebraska's offensive display at Kansas State was also remarkable. The Huskers had five touchdowns cover at least 35 yards, including scores of 80, 79 and 68 yards. The 79-yard pass play from Taylor Martinez to Kyler Reed was NU's longest pass play in eight seasons. NU set a school record at KSU by averaging 11.3 yards per play.
*-Against Oklahoma State, Nebraska had scoring passes of 45 and 41 yards, and a 100-yard kickoff return.
*-Through seven games, Nebraska has 43 offensive plays from scrimmage of at least 20 yards (24 rush, 19 pass). Last season, Nebraska posted 53 scrimmage plays of 20 yards or more in 14 games.
*-The Husker offense has found the end zone in five-or-fewer plays on 15 of its 30 touchdown drives, including three one-play scoring drives, three more two-play scoring drives and four three-play touchdown drives. Thirteen of the 30 drives have taken less than 2:00 off the clock, including eight touchdown drives using 1:00 or less.
*-Nebraska's average touchdown drive this season lasts 5.4 plays and covers 67.8 yards in 2:09.
*-Twenty-seven of the 30 TD drives have taken less than four minutes. The Huskers' longest touchdown drive of the season came on their final scoring drive at Oklahoma State, when they took 6:23 and 12 plays to cover 81 yards.
MARTINEZ MAKING NAME FOR HIMSELF ON NATIONAL LEVEL
Nebraska redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez has quickly emerged as a leading candidate for National Freshman of the Year, and perhaps bigger honors with his impressive performance. Just seven games into his career, Martinez has already made a prominent mark in the NU record book and shown the game-breaking ability that made him the choice in a tight three-quarterback battle for the starting job.
Martinez has accounted for the top five rushing games in school history by a freshman quarterback and four of the top 12 rushing efforts by any NU frosh. He has also accounted for at least 215 yards of total offense six times, while completing 66-of-111 passes and throwing for eight touchdowns.
Martinez's signature performances in the first half of the season came at Kansas State and at Oklahoma State. Martinez set an NU quarterback record with 241 rushing yards and four touchdowns on just 15 carries against the Wildcats. He also set a then-Husker freshman total offense record with 369 yards.
That record lasted less than three weeks, as Martinez accumulated 435 yards of total offense at No. 17 Oklahoma State, including an NU freshman record 323 passing yards, and another 112 rushing yards. In the 51-41 win, he also threw for a freshman-record five touchdowns, the second-most ever by a Nebraska quarterback.
Those explosive efforts are the biggest highlights of Martinez's highlight-filled 2010 campaign:
*-Martinez has rushed for 870 yards on 100 carries, an average of 8.7 yards per carry. Martinez has 14 rushes of at least 20 yards, including touchdown runs of 67, 46, 43, 20, 80, 35, 80 and 41 yards. The 80-yard touchdown runs against Washington and Kansas State are the longest ever by a Nebraska freshman and the second-longest in school history by a Husker quarterback, trailing only Eric Crouch's school-record 95-yard TD run at Missouri in 2001. Martinez owns the three longest runs by an NU quarterback in the past nine seasons.
*-Martinez averages 124.3 rushing yards per game to rank ninth in the nation and third in the Big 12. He is third among quarterbacks, trailing only Michigan's Denard Robinson (156.6 ypg) and Auburn's Cam Newton (134.6 ypg). Martinez is tops among freshmen nationally in rushing, just ahead of San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman (121.3 ypg).
*-Martinez's 8.7 yards per rush is tops among players in the top 100 nationally in rushing, leading Michigan's Robinson who is second at 8.0 yards per rush.
*-Martinez had 127 rushing yards in the opener, the most ever by a Nebraska freshman quarterback, but he has topped that three times since. He had 157 yards on 14 carries against Idaho, 137 yards at Washington, and an NU quarterback record 241 yards at Kansas State. The 241 rushing yards were the second-most ever by an NU freshman, while his 157 yards vs. Idaho were the sixth-most ever for a Husker frosh. The five 100+ outings this season are the top five rushing totals by an NU quarterback in the past eight seasons. His five 100-yard rushing games ties Ahman Green for the Nebraska freshman record.
*-In three road games, Martinez has rushed 53 times for 490 yards and seven touchdowns. He averages 9.2 yards per rush away from home and has scored seven touchdowns in 53 carries-one TD every 7.6 carries.
*-Martinez's 127 rushing yards against Western Kentucky were the most by an NU quarterback in an opener since Tommie Frazier's 130-yard effort against West Virginia in 1994.
*-The three straight 100-yard rushing games to open the year marked the first time a Nebraska quarterback topped the century mark in three straight games since Eric Crouch in 2001. Prior to this season, no NU quarterback had topped the century mark on the ground since Jammal Lord in 2003.
*-Martinez has 12 rushing touchdowns, tied for third-most in the country. He had three each against Western Kentucky and Washington, and four against Kansas State. Martinez is tied for 10th nationally in scoring, averaging 10.3 points per game. His 12 rushing touchdowns are the fourth-most ever by a Nebraska freshman, just two shy of the record.
*-Martinez's three rushing TDs vs. WKU were the most ever by an NU freshman in a season opener. It marked the second straight season an NU player has rushed for three touchdowns in the season opener.
*-Martinez is the first player to have three games with three or more rushing touchdowns in a season since Eric Crouch had four games with at least three touchdowns in 2000. Martinez's effort at KSU also marked the most rushing TDs by a Husker since true freshman I-back David Horne had four rushing touchdowns at Texas A&M in 2002.
*-Martinez's two 80-yard rushes are the longest by any Nebraska player since Cory Ross had an 86-yard touchdown run against Missouri in 2004.
*-Martinez's 870 rushing yards rank third on the Nebraska freshman season rushing chart, and tops among quarterbacks. Eric Crouch held the previous Nebraska freshman QB record with 459 yards in 1998. Martinez is 130 yards from the second 1,000-yard rushing season by a Nebraska freshman and the fourth 1,000-yard season by a Nebraska quarterback. It would also mark only the third 1,000-yard rushing season in NCAA history by a freshman quarterback. He is 224 yards from the NCAA record for rushing yards by a freshman quarterback (1,093, Brad Smith, Missouri, 2002).
MARTINEZ SHOWS ABILITY TO BEAT YOU WITH HIS ARM
Most of the attention Martinez received through six games this season centered on his running ability. That changed at Oklahoma State, when the freshman had easily his most prolific passing day.
In a 51-41 road victory over the No. 17 Cowboys, Martinez completed 23-of-35 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns. Coupled with his 112 rushing yards, Martinez had one of the most dynamic games in school history for a Nebraska quarterback.
*-The 435 yards of total offense were an NU freshman record and the third-highest single-game total offense outing in school history.
*-His 323 passing yards shattered the previous freshman passing record of 193 yards by Eric Crouch in the 1998 Holiday Bowl. The five touchdowns also broke the frosh TD pass record of three shared by Crouch and Tommie Frazier. The five touchdowns tied for the second-most in school history by any player.
*-With 323 passing yards and 112 rushing yards, Martinez became the first Nebraska player to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards. Martinez was also the first to pass for 200 and rush for 100 yards in a game.
His performance at Oklahoma State earned Martinez the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week and the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week awards.
BACKS MAKING MOST OF TOUCHES
Nebraska quarterbacks and I-backs made the most of their offensive touches this season. The explosive Nebraska offense has averaged just 63.1 plays through seven games, but plenty of players have taken advantage of their opportunities to post impressive numbers.
Nebraska averaged 8.8 yards per tote in the opener against Western Kentucky, its best since the 2004 opener against Western Illinois when NU averaged 9.3 yards per rush. Nebraska didn't miss a beat against Idaho, again averaging 8.8 yards per attempt with 360 yards on 41 rushing attempts. At Washington, Nebraska totaled 383 yards on 54 carries, an average of 7.1 yards per carry. Those impressive totals were nothing compared to NU's 10.74 yards per rush against Kansas State, just shy of the school record of 10.82 yards per carry set in 1983.
*-Martinez has averaged more than 10 yards per rush three times, including 18.1 yards on seven rushes vs. WKU, 11.2 yards per attempt on 14 carries against Idaho, and 16.1 yards on 15 carries at Kansas State. He leads the nation at 8.7 yards per carry.
*-Sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead has 79 touches this season, and has accumulated 541 yards, an average of 6.8 yards per touch. He is averaging 6.2 yards on his 51 rushing attempts and 14.9 yards on seven pass receptions. Seven of his touches have covered at least 20 yards.
*-Senior I-back Roy Helu Jr. has also made the most of 72 rushing attempts, rolling up 500 yards. Helu Jr. is averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Helu has three touchdown runs of at least 58 yards this season and has seven rushes of 50 yards or more in his career. His 68-yard touchdown run at Kansas State was a career long, bettering his 65-yarder at Washington in September.
HELU JR. CLIMBING NEBRASKA RUSHING CHARTS
Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr. emerged as one of the Big 12's top backs in 2008, and battled through injuries to surpass 1,000 rushing yards last year as a junior. Helu's effort in 2009 earned him second-team All-Big 12 honors and the 6-0, 220-pounder is again producing impressive results in 2010.
Helu posted four 100-yard rushing games last season, and has topped 100 yards against Idaho, Washington and Kansas State in 2010, giving him 10 career 100-yard games. He is just the 15th player in NU history with at least 10 100-yard rushing games. Helu has scored at least one touchdown in four games, and his 22 career rushing touchdowns make him one of 24 Nebraska players with at least 20 career rushing touchdowns.
Helu's best games seem to come against top competition, as he surpassed the century mark against both Virginia Tech and Oklahoma in 2009, including a career-high 169 yards against the Hokies. Helu's 81.9 yards per game in 2009 ranked fourth in the Big 12, and his 1,147 rushing yards were the 16th-most in NU history.
*-Helu has 2,659 career rushing yards, and moved into the top 20 on the Nebraska career rushing list against Idaho, passing All-Americans Bobby Reynolds and Jeff Kinney, along with Doug DuBose. Helu Jr. is now 11th on the career rushing list and just 40 yards from the career top 10. If he were to post a second 1,000-yard rushing season in 2010, he would finish fourth on the NU career list. Helu is also bidding to be the first Husker to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Calvin Jones in 1992 and 1993.
*-Helu has shined against top competition and in road environments. Helu has three 100-yard rushing games in NU's last eight contests against ranked opponents and has averaged 6.0 yards per carry. In 11 road games since the beginning of the 2008 campaign, Helu has rushed for 1,073 yards on 163 carries, 6.6 yards per tote.
*-Helu had a Big 12-best 12 runs of 20+ yards in 2009, and 23 rushes of at least 20 yards over his past 23 games.
*-Helu had three of the nine 150-yard rushing games by Big 12 players in 2009, and four of the top 13 rushing efforts in the league last season.
BLACKSHIRTS TOUGH AT HOME
Although Nebraska saw its nation-leading streak of 14 consecutive games holding the opponent to 21-or-fewer points snapped last week in Stillwater, the Husker defense has been stout at home. Since the start of the 2009 season, Nebraska has allowed only 108 points in 11 homes games, an average of only 9.8 points per game.
In their last 11 home games, the Huskers have allowed only 10 touchdowns. The Blackshirts have held eight opponents to 10 points or less during that stretch, including five to a field goal or fewer. Only two teams have scored more than 17 points at Memorial Stadium the past two seasons, and Nebraska lost both of those contests. Texas Tech posted a 31-10 win in Lincoln last season, while Texas handed Nebraska its only loss of 2010, 20-13, two weeks ago. Nebraska has also held five consecutive home opponents to fewer than 300 total yards, dating back to last year's Oklahoma game.
The Blackshirts have allowed 300 total yards only twice in 11 home games the past two seasons, giving up an average of only 278.6 yards per game. The defense has also forced 24 turnovers in its last 11 games at Memorial Stadium.
POINTS DON'T COME EASY
Oklahoma State was the first Nebraska opponent to top 21 points in 15 games, and Nebraska has been remarkably stingy on the scoreboard the past two seasons. The 2009 NU defense led the nation in scoring defense at 10.4 points per game, and held seven foes to single digits and eight teams to 10 or fewer points. Both of those totals led the nation. Nebraska posted two shutouts for the first time since 2003. This season, Nebraska ranks 17th in scoring defense at 17.9 points per game.
*-Nebraska's 10.4 points per game allowed last season were the fewest since the 1984 Nebraska defense also led the nation by allowing just 9.5 points per game. NU had not allowed fewer than 15 points per game since 2003.
*-NU allowed just 25 trips into the red zone by its opponents, the second-fewest red-zone chances in the nation. Only 11 of those drives ended in touchdowns, and Nebraska's 64 percent rank in red zone defense was the nation's best. Nebraska has allowed 21 red-zone drives in 2010, with 18 resulting in scores (11 TD, 7 FG).
*-The Huskers allowed only 10 offensive touchdowns in eight Big 12 games in 2009.
*-Nebraska held 13 of 14 opponents to 20 or fewer points last season. To put that accomplishment in perspective, NU held just six opponents to less than 20 points in 2007 and 2008 combined. This season five of seven teams have scored 20 or fewer points.
*-Only seven Nebraska opponents have scored as many as 17 points since the start of the 2009 season (21 games). In the past two seasons, Nebraska has allowed 10 or fewer points in 10 games.
NO FREE PASSES
"This is the best pass defense in America."
--Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian after Nebraska held the Huskies to just four completions and 71 passing yards
Nebraska led the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2009 and returned eight defensive backs with starting experience this fall, making the Husker secondary one of the most highly regarded in the nation. Through seven games, NU is second nationally in pass efficiency defense (90.10 rating) and third in passing yards allowed per game (140.7 ypg). The Huskers have caused major problems for opposing passers, including highly rated prospects Nathan Enderle of Idaho and Jake Locker of Washington.
*- Nebraska opponents are completing 48.1 percent of their pass attempts, including a 4-of-20 effort by Washington's Jake Locker, and a 4-of-16 showing by Texas' Garrett Gilbert. The 48.1 percent completion rate is second nationally. Opponents have thrown for six touchdown passes. Last season, NU opponents completed 47.8 percent of their passes (No. 4 in nation), and NU allowed just seven passing TDs (second-fewest nationally).
*-Nebraska has 12 interceptions this season. NU had a streak of nine straight games with at least one pick end against Texas, but its 12 interceptions are tied for eighth nationally. Nebraska has intercepted 6.42 percent of opposing passes, third in the nation. Last season, Nebraska tied for seventh in the nation with 20 interceptions.
*-Ten of NU's 14 opponents in 2009 completed 50 percent or less of their pass attempts, and five opponents had less than 150 yards passing. NU's 2010 opponents are averaging 140.7 passing yards per game, including five with 135 yards or less. Washington threw for just 71 yards, South Dakota State had 95 yards and Texas threw for only 62 yards. Oklahoma State threw for a season-high 283 yards, but that total was 78 yards fewer than the Cowboys' season average heading into the game. Missouri ranks 16th nationally in passing at 286.4 yards per game.
*-Nebraska allowed an average of 178.9 yards per game through the air in 2009, NU's best pass defense since allowing 177.8 yards per game in 2003.
*-The Huskers' five-interception effort against Idaho was the second time in the past two seasons NU has picked off five passes (also Oklahoma, 2009). Nebraska has intercepted at least two passes in seven of its past 14 games.
*-Nebraska returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Idaho, tying a school record that had been accomplished five other times. Both of the pick-six scores came in the second quarter marking the first time NU has ever returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the same quarter. Nebraska added an interception return for a touchdown at Washington. It is the first time Nebraska has had three INT returns for a touchdown in a season since 2005. The school record for interceptions for touchdowns is five set in both 1971 and 1995.
PRINCE LEADS A ROYAL NEBRASKA SECONDARY
In the season's first seven games it has been hard to single out one player as the standout in the Nebraska secondary. All six players who see the most extensive action have produced big plays and played key roles in the shutdown ability of the Cornhusker secondary.
Senior cornerback Prince Amukamara was the most recognizable name coming into the season after earning his share of honors last fall and putting his name on many preseason All-America teams. A first-team All-Big 12 pick in 2009, Amukamara is regarded as the cornerstone of a deep and veteran Nebraska secondary.
In the first half of the season, Amukamara has shown why he earned the preseason hype, but ironically he is the only player among NU's top seven defensive backs who has not picked off a pass in 2010. Despite not picking off a pass, his lockdown ability has been a key part of Nebraska defenders recording 12 picks.
Amukamara has made 27 tackles, while posting a team-high seven pass breakups. He has had two breakups each against Idaho and Kansas State and has six games the past two seasons with multiple pass breakups. His first PBU against the Vandals deflected into the air and was intercepted by P.J. Smith--the first of five NU picks in the game. The 6-1, 205-pounder has 21 career pass breakups, which places him in a tie for eighth on the Husker career list.
BAND OF BLACKSHIRT THIEVES
Amukamara is the highest profile member of the Nebraska secondary, but opposing quarterbacks have found that the football is never safe with the Huskers' ball-hawking secondary crew.
*-Fellow cornerback Alfonzo Dennard gives Nebraska two of the nation's top cover corners. Dennard has three interceptions this season, including a 31-yard touchdown return for a score against Washington. He is tied for 21st nationally in interceptions, and also has 15 tackles and six pass breakups. He is tied for 10th nationally in passes defended at 1.29 per game.
*-Senior safety DeJon Gomes has been a turnover machine during his Nebraska career. Gomes has had a hand in nine turnovers since debuting in the lineup at mid-year in 2009, including five interceptions and five fumbles caused. Gomes has caused fumbles against Western Kentucky and Kansas State. He also picked off an Idaho pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. Gomes ranks second on the team with 63 tackles, including a career-high 12 stops at Kansas State and double-figure tackle totals against Texas and Oklahoma State.
*-Senior Eric Hagg is Nebraska's nickel back. Hagg has three interceptions this season, including Washington's first pass attempt of the game, that set up the Huskers' opening score. He also had two breakups against the Huskies and his three PBU this season are third on the team. Hagg earned Big 12 Co-Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors for his effort at Washington. He showed his play-making ability against Texas with a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown, the longest punt return in school history on his first career return. Hagg had a season-high eight tackles and an interception at Oklahoma State. Last week he was chosen as a second-team mid-season All-American by SI.com.
*-Senior safety Rickey Thenarse has returned from a season-ending knee injury in 2009. Thenarse had a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown against Idaho. He ranks fourth on the team with 34 tackles and forced a fumble against Washington. He had a career-high 10 tackles against South Dakota State.
*-Sophomore safety P.J. Smith regularly enters the game when Nebraska moves to six defensive backs, and has made three starts this season. Smith is tied for the team lead and ranks 21st nationally with three interceptions. He also has 36 tackles to rank third on the team, including a career-high 11 stops against Texas.
BLACKSHIRTS BOAST AMAZING IMPROVEMENTS OVER PAST TWO SEASONS
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini, defensive coordinator Carl Pelini and a strong defensive staff have led one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college football in recent years. Nebraska was one of the nation's most improved defenses in 2008, finishing second in the Big 12 in total defense just one season after ranking last in the Big 12 and 112th nationally in total defense. As impressive as the progress was in 2008, the Blackshirts made even larger strides as a unit in 2009 and are continuing to be among the nation's best in 2010.
*-Two seasons after ranking 116th nationally in scoring defense (37.9 ppg), NU led the nation in that category at 10.4 points per game. NU allowed 28.5 points per game in 2008 and its 18.1 ppg improvement last fall easily led the nation. Nebraska's 79-spot move from 80th nationally in total defense in 2008 to first in 2009 was also the nation's best. This season Nebraska is allowing 17.9 ppg.
*-In two seasons, Nebraska's sack total has increased from 13 to 35 to 44 in 2009. Through seven games this season, NU has 12 sacks, including a seven-sack effort against Idaho.
*-Against the run, NU cut its per-game average nearly in half in 2008, then shaved another 23 yards per game off its average allowed in 2009.
*-Nebraska improved 48 places (55th to 7th) in total defense in 2009, improving from 349.9 yards per game to 272.0 yards per game and the 77.9-yard improvement was the sixth-best in the nation. The Huskers are allowing 305.9 yards per game this season and have held five of seven foes to less than 300 yards.
*-Nebraska led the nation in pass efficiency defense and finished 18th in passing yards allowed per game, an improvement of 71 places--the fourth-best in the nation. This season, Nebraska is second in pass efficiency defense and third in passing yards allowed at just 140.7 yards per game.
CRICK LOOKING FOR ANOTHER AWARD-WINNING SEASON
Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick emerged as a standout performer last fall and has shown signs of big things again in 2010. The 6-6, 285-pound Crick was named the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team preseason All-America choice by numerous outlets. He recently received first-team mid-season All-America honors from Rivals.com, and second-team All-America honors from two other outlets.
Crick has helped set the tone for the 2010 Blackshirts. Crick has 31 tackles, good for fifth on the team and the most among linemen. He broke out against Idaho with 2.5 sacks for 30 yards and four tackles for losses, totaling 32 yards. Crick is also tied for the team lead with 3.5 sacks and paces the Blackshirts with six tackles for loss. His five quarterback hurries are third on the team. Crick has pushed his career sack total to 13, just three shy of the Nebraska career top 10.
In 2009, Crick pushed Ndamukong Suh for team statistical leads in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss all season. Crick finished with 73 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. Crick had one of the most prolific defensive days in school history with a record-setting performance at Baylor.
*-Crick had a school-record five sacks for 24 yards in the game. His five sacks were the most in a single game by any player in the nation in 2009, just ahead of Suh's 4.5 sacks against Texas.
*-Crick had seven tackles for loss, tying the NU school record also held by Jim Skow (1985 vs. Missouri) and Suh (2009 vs. Texas). The seven TFLs by Crick and Suh were three more than any other Big 12 player in 2009.
*-Crick earned Big 12 and national defensive player-of-the-week honors for his performance, before going on to first-team All-Big 12 honors. His 5.2 tackles per game ranked second only to Suh among Big 12 defensive interior linemen.
DAVID POSTING IMPRESSIVE TACKLE TOTALS
Nebraska junior linebacker Lavonte David arrived on the Nebraska campus just a few short months ago. But he has proven to be a quick learner and has moved into a leading role on the Nebraska defense. David has a team-high 78 tackles, and his 11.1 tackles per game leads the Big 12 and ranks 10th nationally. David is also tied for second on the team with six pass breakups and his five tackles for loss are second on the team.
The play of the 6-1, 210-pound David has drawn national attention. He has been named a first-team midseason All-American by Rivals.com and SI.com, and he is the leading contender for Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
*-David had a team season-high 19 tackles in the Huskers' victory over South Dakota State. David's tackle total was the highest for a Nebraska player since Barrett Ruud totaled 19 tackles at Kansas State in 2004. Ruud, a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is Nebraska's all-time leading tackler.
*-The 19 tackles vs. SDSU were not only the best by a Husker in six seasons, but the total also ranked in a tie for the seventh-most tackles in school history.
*-David backed that up with 16 tackles at Kansas State, giving him the top two single-game tackle totals for the Huskers in the past six seasons. His effort at Kansas State also earned David Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors. His 35 tackles in back-to-back games are the best for a Husker since Ruud had 36 tackles in back-to-back games against Kansas State and Missouri in 2004.
*-He has four games with double-figure tackle totals this season, most recently 10 vs. Texas.
HENERY KICKING WAY INTO NEBRASKA RECORD BOOK
Alex Henery is continuing his assault on the NU record book this season, while challenging Big 12 and NCAA records. The senior from Omaha also emerged as one of the conference's top punters last season and is vastly improved in that category this season. Henery was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award last season and should be a leading contender for the award in 2010, as well as a strong candidate for the Ray Guy Award.
Henery connected on three field goals at Oklahoma State to improve to 9-of-9 on the season. The three successful field goals gave him 59 career field goals, moving him past Kris Brown's previous school record of 57 field goals. Henery also matched another Kris Brown record, tying the school record of 17 straight made field goals dating back to last season.
Henery connected on a school-record 24-of-28 field goals in 2009, including three games with at least four field goals. He hit 5-of-5 field goals at Virginia Tech, the second-highest field goal total in school history, trailing only Dale Klein's school-record seven field goals in 1985. He also supplied all the scoring by hitting 4-of-4 field goals in a 13-12 loss to Texas in the Big 12 title game, and finished the year with a perfect 4-of-4 effort against Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.
*-Henery has six career games with four or more field goals, an accomplishment that has already tied an NCAA record. He has 14 multiple-FG games in his career, including three straight in Big 12 Conference play.
*-Henery's 24 field goals in 2009 shattered the school record, and his 59 made field goals have come on 66 attempts, making him the most accurate kicker in school history.
*-Henery is the third-most accurate active career field goal kicker in the nation. He is also the most accurate kicker in NU history on extra points, hitting 174-of-175 in his career, a 99.4 percent accuracy rate. He has made 97 straight PATs, including perfect PAT seasons as a freshman and junior. He is 35-of-35 in 2010.
*-Among Henery's seven career missed field goals, just two have come from inside 50 yards. In fact, Henery had a streak of 25 straight made field goals from inside 50 yards. Henery has also made 16 career field goals from 44 yards or longer. His 52-yard field goal at Oklahoma State tied for the longest ever by a Nebraska player in a road game.
*-Henery became the fifth Nebraska player with at least 300 career points against Idaho. He currently has 351 points to rank third in school history. Henery needs 38 points to set a new career scoring record.
*- Henery has scored 110 points each of the past two seasons, eighth on the single-season list. His two 110-point seasons trail only Kris Brown (116 in 1997) for season scoring by a kicker. A third 100-point season this fall would move Henery to the top of Nebraska's career scoring list. Henery is third nationally in scoring among active players.
*-Henery averaged 41.4 yards in his first season as Nebraska's starting punter in 2009, making him one of only three players nationally to rank in the top 50 in both field goals and punting average. Henery led the Big 12 with 30 punts downed inside the 20, including an impressive eight inside the three-yard line.
*-This season, Henery's punting has been strong and consistent. He is avearging 46.3 yards per punt to rank second in the Big 12 and seventh nationally. He has had 11 kicks downed inside the 20 and 11 kicks travel at least 50 yards. Henery has averaged at least 47.0 yards per punt in each of the past five games.
PAUL AGAIN SETTING THE TONE FOR RECEIVERS AND RETURN GAME
Wide receiver Niles Paul has been a key figure in Nebraska's receiving corps and return game for each of the past three seasons. A year ago, Paul caught 40 passes for 796 yards and four touchdowns. Paul's receiving yardage total was the fifth-best total in school history and his 19.9 yards per catch led the Big 12 Conference. His per-catch average also ranked third in school history among players with at least 20 receptions and top among players with 40 catches in a season.
*-Paul tied the NU school record in 2009 with four 100-yard receiving games, including three in Big 12 play and against Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. His 154 yards on four catches at Kansas represented the sixth-best receiving day in NU history, while his 143 yards vs. Iowa State ranked ninth.
*-Paul earned Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP honors by accounting for 237 all-purpose yards, including 123 receiving yards. He had a career-long 74-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter to cap the scoring in a 33-0 rout.
*-Paul had 11 catches of at least 20 yards, with nine of those covering 35 yards or more. His 38.5 yards per catch at Kansas was the second-best single-game effort in the Big 12 in 2009.
*-Paul ranked second in the Big 12 in both kickoff return and punt return average in 2009, and his 121.2 all-purpose yards per game ranked ninth in the Big 12.
*-Paul became the first Husker since Dana Brinson (1986) to lead Nebraska in receiving, kickoff return yards, punt return yards and all-purpose yards. The only other Huskers in history to lead the Huskers in all four categories in the same season are: Johnny Rodgers (1970, 1971, 1972), Pat Fischer (1958) and Dick Hutton (1946). The only other Husker in history to lead NU in four offense/special teams yardage categories in the same season was Frank Solich (1964 - all-purpose, KOR, PR, rushing).
This season, Paul has shown similar all-around skills and had the most complete game of his career in Nebraska's 51-41 victory at Oklahoma State. Paul accounted for a career-high 274 all-purpose yards in the game, the fifth-best all-purpose game in school history.
Included in his effort at Oklahoma State was a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, marking the longest for Nebraska in 61 years and tying the second-longest in NU history. Paul also caught a career-high nine passes, tying for the eighth-most catches for a Husker player. His 131 receiving yards marked the fifth 100-yard receiving game of his career and his first in 2010.
*-Paul opened the year with 158 all-purpose yards against Western Kentucky, including five receptions for 92 yards and a 33-yard TD grab. He had two catches of at least 20 yards against the Hilltoppers, then led NU with four catches against Idaho. He tied his previous career high with six catches against Texas, and has had at least four catches in seven of 12 games dating back to last season.
*-Paul has moved into the top 10 on the Nebraska career receptions, and at 90 career catches, he is poised to become just the sixth player in school history with 100 career catches. Paul's 1,374 career receiving yards are eighth in NU history.
MCNEILL AND KINNIE ALSO PROVIDE DANGEROUS RECEIVING TARGETS
Senior Mike McNeill has been a fixture in the Nebraska passing game for the past three seasons. He was a prolific pass catching tight end, before the 6-4, 235-pound McNeill moved to wide receiver last spring. He teams with Paul and junior Brandon Kinnie to give Nebraska one of the biggest and most physical receiving corps in the Big 12.
McNeill set a tight end record with 32 catches as a sophomore in 2008, and was second on the team with 28 catches for 259 yards last season. He also tied with Paul for the team lead with four touchdown catches.
*-In addition to a tight end position record 32 catches in 2008, McNeill's six touchdown receptions were just one shy of the position record.
*-McNeill has 72 career catches to rank in a tie for 11th on the Nebraska career list. McNeill's receptions total represents a Nebraska career tight ends reception record, bettering the 65 by Matt Herian from 2002 to 2006. McNeill is 83 yards from becoming the 19th Husker and fourth NU tight end to reach 1,000 career receiving yards. He snared his 11th career touchdown with a 24-yard grab at Washington, then had a career-long 64-yard reception against South Dakota State.
*-McNeill is coming off his best game of 2010 with a career-high five catches for 61 yards at Oklahoma State.
Kinnie also made huge strides in the offseason, and that has carried into oustanding play in the first half of the season. Kinnie ranks second on the team with 21 catches for 281 yards.
*-Kinnie posted his first three career touchdown receptions at Oklahoma State, incuding a 45-yard catch and run to open the scoring in the first quarter. Kinnie's three TD catches tied a school record, accomplished nine previous times in NU history.
The Oklahoma State game was not the only 2010 highlight for Kinnie. He opened the year with a career-high six receptions and 59 yards against Western Kentucky. He excelled against Washington with five receptions for a career-high 105 yards. He totaled 180 all-purpose yards, adding 75 yards on kickoff returns.
Behind Paul, McNeill and Kinnie, Nebraska is averaging 14.8 yards per completion this season, a mark that ranks sixth in the country.
Nebraska finished the 2009 season with its highest post-season ranking (No. 14 in both polls) since the 2001 season. The Huskers also started the 2010 season in its best poll position in several seasons.
*-The Huskers were No. 8 in the preseason Associated Press Poll and were ranked ninth in the first USA Today Coaches Poll. The rankings represent NU's highest starting position since opening at No. 4 in the AP poll in 2001.
*-Nebraska's No. 8 preseason ranking was the first time in the top 10 at any point since being ranked 10th by the AP in October of 2003 following a 5-0 start to the season.
*-NU was ranked fifth in the Oct. 10 AP poll and fourth in the coaches poll, Nebraska's highest rankings since entering the 2002 Rose Bowl against Miami ranked fourth in the nation.
*-Nebraska has received first-place votes in the coaches poll two separate weeks this season, the first time since 2001 that NU has received a first-place vote in either poll.
NEBRASKA LOOKING FOR ANOTHER STRONG SECOND-HALF RUN
Nebraska entered 2010 with a surge of momentum after playing outstanding football late in the 2009 season. *-Nebraska won six of its final seven games last fall, as it also did to finish the 2008 campaign. The 6-1 second-half records the past two seasons are the school's best seven-game finishes since 1999. Nebraska was one of only 12 teams in the FBS to win at least six of its final seven games last season.
*-The Huskers went 5-1 in the first half of the regular season, and will look to finish off October with a victory over No. 7 Missouri. Nebraska's win at Oklahoma State allowed the Huskers to end a streak of five straight years with a two-game October losing streak.
*-A victory Saturday over Missouri would allow Nebraska to finish October with just one loss in the month for the first time since 2003. Prior its current struggles in October, NU had only one season between 1969 and 2003 with more than one October loss (2 in 1998).
Pelini-coached Nebraska teams are 16-7 in games played before Halloween, including 6-5 in October, and 10-2 in games on or after Nov. 1, with the only losses against teams ranked in the top four nationally.
NEBRASKA HOPING TO CONTINUE FOURTH-QUARTER EXCELLENCE
Nebraska has been among the nation's best fourth-quarter teams each of the past two seasons. In 2008, NU ranked second nationally in fourth-quarter points scored (155) and fourth-quarter point differential (+103).
The 2009 season was no different as NU outscored the opposition 96-32, with the 32 points allowed tying Alabama for the lowest in the nation. The 64-point differential in the fourth quarter was the fourth-best nationally.
*-The fourth-quarter highlight in 2009 was at No. 24 Missouri. NU trailed 12-0 entering the fourth quarter, before scoring 27 unanswered points. The rally from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit tied a school record, and the 27 points were the most by NU in any quarter since the 2004 season opener, and the most in the fourth quarter since 2001.
*-NU allowed nine Big 12 opponents just 23 fourth-quarter points and held eight foes without a fourth-quarter point.
*-Nebraska outscored its opponents 154-55 in the second half in 2009. The 55 second-half points were the fewest allowed by any team in the nation. Only two opponents scored more than seven points in the second half in 2009 (Baylor-10, Colorado-13), and NU allowed only five offensive TDs in the second half.
*-Under Bo Pelini, Nebraska is 25-2 when leading at any point in the fourth quarter. The lone losses were one-point setbacks against Virginia Tech and Texas in 2009.
This season, Nebraska has allowed 28 fourth-quarter points, while scoring 51 of its own.
INJURY BUG HITS HUSKERS DURING FALL CAMP
Nebraska endured more than its share of injuries during fall camp, with two returning starters sidelined for the entire season and two others lost for a significant amount of time.
*-Senior offensive lineman Mike Smith suffered a leg injury during the first week of fall camp that will sideline the Las Vegas native for the season. Smith was Nebraska's starting left tackle each of the past two seasons, collecting 26 career starts. Smith was set to play a key role on the line this fall, with the ability to possibly serve as a key backup at tackle, guard or even center.
*-Sophomore linebacker Sean Fisher also suffered a season-ending leg injury during fall camp. Fisher started six games as a redshirt freshman last fall, and was expected to be among the Huskers' top linebackers in 2010.
*-Sophomore linebacker Will Compton joined Fisher on the sidelines when he suffered a foot injury in practice on Sept. 2, just two days before the opener. Compton has returned, seeing limited action against Texas before working into a regular role at Oklahoma State.
*-Senior tight end Dreu Young underwent back surgery in late August and is out for an extended period of time. Young also battled back issues during his junior campaign.
*-Junior reserve cornerback Anthony Blue suffered his second knee injury in the past 2 1/2 years during fall camp and will be sidelined for the year. Blue was expected to be among Nebraska's top reserves at corner, and was also one of the Huskers' top special teams perfomers last season.
NCAA RECORD SELLOUT STREAK
One of the most remarkable streaks in collegiate sports reached another milestone on Sept. 26, 2009, against Louisiana-Lafayette when Nebraska celebrated the 300th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium. A stadium record crowd of 86,304 fans were on hand for the historic event, and the streak is at 309 games and is expected to reach 311 by season's end. The sellout streak dates back to Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney's first year in 1962 (vs. Missouri on Nov. 3). Notre Dame is second in all-time consecutive sellouts with 219, 90 fewer than Nebraska.
NU OWNS DOMINANT ADVANTAGE AT MEMORIAL STADIUM
Nebraska has rewarded the loyalty of its fans with incredible success at Memorial Stadium through the years.
*-Nebraska has won at least six home games in 19 of the past 23 seasons. Nebraska is 132-19 at home in the last 22 seasons (since 1989).
*-During Nebraska's run of success at home in the past 25 years, NU has had three home winning streaks of 20 or more games, and overall has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons.
*-The Huskers are 501-138-20 (.775, 659 games, 121 years) in Lincoln, and 376-115-13 (.759, 504 games, 88 years) in Memorial Stadium (since 1923). Nebraska has had 41 straight winning home seasons.
MEMORIAL STADIUM EXPANSION FOR 2013 APPROVED
The Nebraska Board of Regents approved an expansion plan for the east side of Memorial Stadium, which will increase Memorial Stadium's attendance to more than 90,000. NU plans to expand Memorial Stadium by adding approximately 5,000 new seats, which will include between 2,000 and 2,250 new club seats, approximately 400 to 500 seats within approximately 30 new indoor/outdoor suites, and approximately 2,500 to 2,800 new general seats, including additional seating for disabled patrons. Each new seating area would include dedicated restrooms and concessions areas. A new grand lobby, expanded concourse, and additional first-aid areas would also be added. No current East Stadium seats will be removed and no season ticket holders will be required to relocate their seats as part of this project.
The proposed height of the new addition to be constructed above and around the current east balcony will be similar to the West Stadium, completed in 1999. Within the six proposed levels of the new East Stadium building, approximately 40,000 square feet of interior shell space will also be created. Athletics will retain approximately 20,000 of the undeveloped space for future growth, and as part of a unique partnership between athletics and UNL Research, will allocate approximately 20,000 square feet for future office and laboratory space for research at UNL.
The total projected cost of the East Stadium Improvement Project is $55.5 million. The proposal calls for $40.5 million to come from private donations and the remaining $15 million from bond revenues. Approximately $7 million in new revenue is expected to be generated annually from the new seating. These additional revenues will be used to pay off the bonds.
Construction could begin in November of 2011 and be complete by the fall of 2013.
NEBRASKA SET FOR MOVE TO BIG TEN IN 2011
June 11, 2010 was a historic day for the University of Nebraska, as NU was admitted to the Big Ten Conference as the 12th member of the nation's oldest conference. The Cornhuskers will begin play in the Big Ten in 2011-12
The Huskers have a long history of meeting Big Ten opponents on the gridiron, compiling an 81-68-10 all-time record against the league's other 11 members. Nebraska most recently met a Big Ten opponent in a 32-28 victory over Michigan in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. NU's last regular-season matchup with a Big Ten opponent was a home-and-home series in 2002 and 2003 with Penn State. The schools split the two games, each winning at home.
The Big Ten Conference announced its divisional alignment on Sept. 1. The Huskers will compete in a football division with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern. The other division is comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Nebraska's first Big Ten game will be at Wisconsin on Oct. 1, 2011, with its first Big Ten home game against Ohio State on Oct. 8, 2011.
HUSKERS COMPETE IN FINAL SEASON IN BIG 12 CONFERENCE
With Nebraska's move to the Big Ten on the horizon, 2010 marks Nebraska's final season of action in the Big 12. The conference has been NU's home since 1996 and the Huskers have had their share of football success in the league. Nebraska has played in the Big 12 Championship Game five times, including the 2009 title game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Nebraska has captured Big 12 titles in 1997 and 1999.
*-Nebraska's five Big 12 Championship Game appearances are tied for second among all Big 12 schools along with Texas, trailing only Oklahoma's seven Big 12 Championship Game appearances.
*-Nebraska has squared off against three conference foes more than 100 times, including 116 meetings with Kansas, 104 with Iowa State and 103 with Missouri.
*-Nebraska and Kansas will meet for the 105th consecutive season in 2010, which is currently the nation's longest uninterrupted streak. Overall, the 116 meetings are the third most of any series in the country.
*-Nebraska will play its final Big 12 Conference game against Colorado on Friday, Nov. 26. The 2010 season will mark the 15th straight year the Big 12 North schools have met on the day after Thanksgiving and the 21st straight year Nebraska has played on that date, meeting Oklahoma six consecutive years from 1990 to 1995.
The 2010 Nebraska roster includes three sets of twins and five total sets of brothers. Courtney and Steven Osborne of Garland, Texas, signed with the Huskers in 2008 and enter their third season in the program-Courtney as a safety and Steven at wide receiver. Colin and Conor McDermott walked on to Nebraska from Omaha Creighton Prep high school and will both be sophomore defensive ends this fall. Jake and Spencer Long also hail from Omaha (Elkhorn High School) and are in their second season in the program. Jake lines up at tight end, while Spencer is an offensive lineman.
In addition to the three sets of twins, Nebraska also has another set of brothers on the roster-Ben and Jake Cotton. The Cottons are the sons of Nebraska associate head coach Barney Cotton, and senior defensive back Adam Watson is the son of offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. In addition, walk-on freshman offensive lineman Mark Pelini is the nephew of Bo and Carl Pelini.
NEBRASKA FOOTBALL-A FAMILY AFFAIR
The Cotton family is one of just several father-son combinations who have played for Nebraska represented on the 2010 Cornhusker roster. Barney lettered at Nebraska in 1976-78, while Ben is a sophomore tight end and Jake is a freshman defensive lineman.
Other current Nebraska players whose fathers also played at NU include DB Joey Felici (Tony, 1980-82), LB Sean Fisher (Todd, 1983), DE Andy Gdowski (Tom, 1980-82), WR KC Hyland (John, 1970-72), DB Brent Moravec (Mark, 1980-82), DE Jay Martin (Bob, 1973-75), C Cole Pensick (Dan, 1977-79), LB Colby Starkebaum (John, 1972-74) and DT Baker Steinkuhler (Dean, 1981-83).
NFL HAS LARGE INFLUENCE ON NEBRASKA ROSTER
Several players also have family connections with the National Football League. Barney Cotton logged four seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Cardinals from 1979 to 1982. Other players whose fathers played in the NFL include CB Anthony Blue (Anthony, Sr., Seattle, 1987), QB Zac Lee (Bob, Minnesota, Atlanta, L.A. Rams, 1969-80), Jay Martin (Bob, N.Y. Jets, San Francisco, 1976-79), Baker Steinkuhler (Dean, Houston, 1984-91), DB Anthony West (Robert, Kansas City, San Francisco, 1972-74) and IB Lester Ward (Lester, Sr., Dallas).
1970 CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM REUNITED
More than 50 members of the first Nebraska national championship team were together again in Lincoln on Oct. 15-16 for the 40th anniversary of the championship. The group had a private dinner on Friday evening and were honored on the field at halftime of the Nebraska-Texas game.
The 1970 team won the first of Nebraska's five national championships. Led by Coach Bob Devaney, the Huskers finished 11-0-1, and captured the Associated Press title.
Despite an undefeated record, Nebraska needed to win its bowl game and have both Texas and Ohio State lose to jump from third to first in the Associated Press poll. The Huskers took care of business with a 17-12 win over LSU in the Orange Bowl and both the Longhorns and Buckeyes lost their bowl games, allowing Nebraska to move to the No. 1 spot and claim its first-ever national title.
The Huskers shared the crown that season with Texas, who was the No. 1 team in the United Press International (UPI) poll. That final poll was voted on before the bowl season, when the undefeated Longhorns fell to No. 6 Notre Dame, 24-11, in the Cotton Bowl.
NEBRASKA FOOTBALL CONTINUES TO WIN IN THE CLASSROOM
Nebraska football has long been one of the nation's most successful programs on the field. Success in the classroom is also a cornerstone of the Nebraska football program.
NU AMONG LEADERS IN ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12 SELECTIONS
Nebraska had 22 players named to the 2009 academic All-Big 12 team, including 15 first-team selections, and seven second-team honorees. Nebraska's 22 honorees were the second-highest total in the Big 12 Conference.
The group was highlighted by defensive back Austin Cassidy and linebacker Sean Fisher, who were each nominated with a 4.0 grade-point average. Fisher has a perfect cumulative grade-point average, while Cassidy earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in the two previous semesters. Fisher and Cassidy were two of just three student-athletes in the Big 12 Conference nominated with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
NATION-LEADING TOTAL OF COSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICANS
Seniors Todd Peterson and Tyler Wortman were selected as second-team ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in 2008. The selection of Peterson and Wortman gave NU a nation-leading total of 98 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in football. Nebraska also leads the nation in academic All-Americans with 277 academic All-Americans across all teams and all sports entering the 2010-11 academic year.
SENIOR CLASS IN STRONG ACADEMIC STANDING
Nebraska's 23-player senior class includes six players who will play the 2010 season as graduate students. Among those, defensive end Tyrone Fahie graduated in December of 2009 in just 3 ½ years, while offensive lineman D.J. Jones, quarterback Zac Lee and defensive back Anthony West picked up their degrees in May. Tight end Mike McNeill and offensive lineman Mike Smith joined the group in summer commencement exercises.
*-Another nine seniors are expected to complete their degree work in the fall, giving the Huskers 15 graduates in time for the bowl game. All but one member of the senior class are expected to complete their degrees by the end of the 2011 spring semester.
*-Among Bo Pelini's first three senior classes, 52 of 57 players are on track to earn their degree by next August.
NEBRASKA LEADS BIG 12 IN EXHAUSTED ELIGIBILITY GRADUATION RATES
Nebraska athletic teams continue to pace the Big 12 Conference in the classroom, leading the Big 12 in the exhausted eligibility graduation rate for the seventh consecutive year with an impressive 94 percent rate.
Nebraska continues to set the pace in the Big 12 in terms of Exhausted Eligibility graduation rates. The exhausted eligibility rate surveys the graduation rate of scholarship student-athletes in 10 incoming freshman classes who complete their eligibility at the university. Nebraska's exhausted eligibility rate has improved 22 percentage points since the inception of the rate in 1991-92.