Nebraska returns to the Big 12 Championship Game for the second consecutive season and for the sixth time in 15 years of Big 12 Conference play. The Huskers will take on Oklahoma on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will be televised nationally on ABC with kickoff set for shortly after 7 p.m CT.
The Huskers locked up the North Division crown with a 45-17 victory over Colorado last Friday in Lincoln. The win left Nebraska with a 10-2 overall record and a 6-2 mark in Big 12 play. The 10-win regular season is Nebraska’s first since 2001. Nebraska will enter the Big 12 Championship ranked 13th in the AP and coaches polls and also 13th in the BCS standings.
Oklahoma has identical 10-2 and 6-2 records following a 47-41 victory over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The win forced a three-way tie in the Big 12 South, and the Sooners advanced to the league title game based on BCS rankings. OU checks in at No. 9 in the BCS, while ranking ninth in the coaches poll and No. 10 according to the Associated Press.
Nebraska’s sixth Big 12 Championship Game appearance is second only to Oklahoma which has made eight appearances, all in the past 11 years. NU and OU are meeting in the title game for the second time, as Oklahoma defeated Nebraska, 21-7, in the 2006 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City. The winner of the Big 12 Championship Game will clinch an appearance in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 in Glendale, Ariz.
Oklahoma holds a 44-38-3 edge in the all-time series between two of the nation’s winningest programs. Nebraska’s 10-3 victory last year in Lincoln ended a four-game OU win streak in the series. This marks the 25th all-time meeting in which both teams have been ranked. Oklahoma holds a 3-0-1 edge over Nebraska on neutral fields.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 30-10 record in his third season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first three seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat. Pelini has joined Frank Solich and Mack Brown as the only coaches in Big 12 history (since 1996) to win nine games in each of their first three seasons.
Oklahoma: Bob Stoops (Iowa, ‘83) is in his 12th season as Oklahoma’s head coach and owns a 127-31 record with the Sooners. Stoops has guided OU to eight Big 12 title game appearances, posting a 6-1 record in those games.
Nebraska is 837-343-40 all-time, one of just eight schools with 800 all-time victories w Nebraska has won five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997). w The Cornhuskers have won 43 conference championships. - Nebraska’s 46 all-time bowl appearances rank fifth nationally. - Since 1970, Nebraska has 403 wins, 25 more than any other school. - Nebraska’s 99 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation. - The Huskers have had 107 All-Americans in school history.
Noting Game 12...Nebraska 45, Colorado 17
-Nebraska improved to 10-2, its first 10-win regular season since 2001. It is the 25th 10-win season in school history, including the second straight under Head Coach Bo Pelini. The two 10-win seasons in three years makes Pelini just the second coach in NU history to have two 10-win seasons in his first three years, joining Frank Solich. Pelini improved to 30-10 as Nebraska’s head coach.
-Nebraska finished Big 12 play with a 6-2 record, the same mark it recorded last season. This is the first time NU has had back-to-back six-win conference seasons since 2000 and 2001.
-The game marked Nebraska’s 120th and final Big 12 Conference regular season game. Nebraska finished with a 15-year regular season Big 12 record of 81-39, including 46-14 at home.
-Nebraska finished with a 6-1 home record, its best single-season record at Memorial Stadium since also posting a 6-1 record in 2006.
-Sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead rushed 19 times for 101 yards, including numerous direct snaps in the Wildcat formation. Burkhead rushed seven times for 54 yards in the first quarter and had 98 yards before half, including a three-yard TD run early in the second quarter.
-Burkhead topped 100 yards for the third time this season (104 at Washington, 129 at ISU) and for the fourth time in his career, including 100 yards last season at Colorado.
-Burkhead also threw a pair of touchdown passes on his first two career pass attempts. He threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Kinnie on his first career pass attempt with 49 seconds left in the first half on a halfback pass to give Nebraska a 17-3 halftime edge. Burkhead later threw a four-yard TD pass to Kyler Reed out of the wildcat formation in the third period to give NU a 31-3 lead. Burkhead is believed to be the first non-quarterback in the modern era to throw for more than one touchdown pass in a game.
-Nebraska rushed for 265 yards, marking its 10th 200-yard rushing effort in 12 games. Nebraska is 10-0 when rushing for 200+ yards this season.
-Junior receiver Brandon Kinnie caught two touchdown passes–a 26-yarder from Burkhead in the second quarter and a 16-yarder from Cody Green in the third quarter. Kinnie has five touchdown receptions this season, including three at Oklahoma State and two vs. Colorado. Kinnie finished the game with four receptions for 48 yards. Kinnie pushed his season receptions total to 40, just two shy of the single-season top 10.
-Sophomore tight end Kyler Reed caught his sixth touchdown pass of the season on a one-yard reception from Cody Green in the third quarter, after hauling in a four-yard flip from Rex Burkhead earlier in the quarter. Each of Reed’s first four touchdown receptions of the year covered at least 33 yards. He has scored a touchdown on six of his 17 receptions this season and his six TD catches are one shy of the top 10 on the NU single-season list.
-Senior receiver Joe Broekemeier made his first three career receptions, covering a total of 34 yards.
-Nebraska did not commit a turnover, while gaining three Colorado turnovers which the Huskers turned into 21 points. It is the fourth time this season Nebraska did not commit a turnover and the +3 turnover margin is the best this season (previously +2 vs. Idaho).
-Senior place-kicker Alex Henery connected on a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter, and added six extra points in the game to push his career scoring total to 388 points. He tied former NU place-kicker Kris Brown for first on the NU career list at 388 career points.
-Eric Hagg intercepted his team-leading fifth pass of the season in the third quarter, and returned it 26 yards to the CU 4 to set up a touchdown. His five interceptions are tied for eighth on the NU single-season list.
-Senior defensive back DeJon Gomes intercepted a third-quarter pass for his third interception of the season and the seventh of his career. Gomes also returned a fumble 19 yards to the Colorado 3 in the fourth quarter to set up a Nebraska touchdown for a 45-17 lead.
-Prince Amukamara contributed two pass breakups to move into a tie for seventh on the NU season chart with 13. He ranks seventh on the NU career list with 27.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his third season as Nebraska’s head coach and owns a 30-10 record with the Huskers. Pelini helped Nebraska to at least a share of the Big 12 North title in each of his first three seasons, becoming the first coach in the history of the Big 12 to win at least a share of a division title in each of his first three years.
Pelini took charge of the Huskers after a highly successful five-year run as a collegiate defensive coordinator, including orchestrating NU’s defensive efforts in 2003. Pelini picked up his first college head coaching victory as NU’s interim coach in the 2003 Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.
Following his one season at Nebraska, Pelini served as the co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 2004, helping the Sooners to the Big 12 title and BCS title game. He then followed with three seasons as the defensive coordinator at LSU. With the Tigers, Pelini led three consecutive defenses to No. 3 national rankings in total defense. He culminated his time in Baton Rouge by helping the Tigers to the 2007 national championship.
In addition to his five seasons at the collegiate level, Pelini coached in the NFL for nine seasons, serving three years each with the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. Pelini was a team captain and four-year letterman as a safety at Ohio State from 1987 to 1990.
Pelini Stacks up Well with Peers
In guiding Nebraska to a 30-10 record, (29-10 from 2008-2010), Pelini put himself in some impressive company.
-Pelini is the fourth Nebraska head coach to win nine games in each of his first three seasons with the Cornhuskers. The others to reach that win plateau were Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich. He has joined Solich as the only NU coaches with two 10-win seasons in their first three years.
-Pelini, Solich and Texas’ Mack Brown are the only coaches in Big 12 history (1996) to win nine or more games in each of their first three seasons.
-Pelini’s nine victories in 2008 tied for the most among 18 coaches in their first season at their respective 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 were second among that group, and he has moved to the top of the 2008 hiring class with his 29 wins, two better than Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson and Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo.
-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. Nebraska finish second in the Big 12 in total defense, a year after the Huskers were 100th or worse in nearly every defensive category. In 2009, 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 106 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini’s defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 35 times and to 20 points or less 70 times.
-Pelini-led defenses have 214 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 are in 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.
Oklahoma wrapped up its eighth Big 12 South title by winning its last three games, including two on the road, to advance to this Saturday’s Big 12 Championship. The Sooners’ two losses this season came on the road to Missouri and Texas A&M, while it reeled off three straight victories against Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State. Oklahoma won its annual Bedlam battle by scoring 23 fourth-quarter points last Saturday in Stillwater to come away with a thrilling 47-41 victory.
Sophomore quarterback Landry Jones is among the Big 12’s leader in passing yards per game (340.8) and pass efficiency (149.9) and has guided the Sooners to its fourth 10-win season in the past five years. Jones is closing in on a 4,000-yard passing season as he has 3,947 yards entering the Big 12 Championship Game. That total has guided OU to the fourth-best passing offense in the nation with 336.3 yards per game through the air. Jones has thrown 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Last season, the Artesia, N.M., native threw for 3,198 yards with 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, including five picks against Nebraska.
Jones has one of the best targets in the nation in junior wide receiver Ryan Broyles. The Biletnikoff Award finalist ranks second in the Big 12 with 9.3 receptions and 113.6 receiving yards per game to go along with 13 touchdowns.
Senior running back Demarco Murray leads the OU ground game as he has rushed for 1,053 yards this season an average of 87.8 yards per game. Murray has 14 touchdowns on the ground and has also caught 64 passes (8.4 per game) with five touchdowns.
The Sooner defense ranks fifth in the Big 12 by giving up 369.8 yards per game. Junior linebacker Travis Lewis leads OU with 93 total tackles, although senior defensive end Jeremy Beal has made the biggest impact by leading the Big 12 with 18 tackles for loss and ranking second with 8.5 sacks. The Sooners held a pair of Big 12 opponents to single digits, as they shut out Iowa State (52-0) and gave up only a touchdown to Texas Tech (45-7), the Red Raiders lowest offensive total of the season.
Nebraska defeated No. 20 Oklahoma last November in Lincoln, 10-3, marking the Huskers’ first win against OU since 2001...The Sooners defeated NU 21-7 in the 2006 Big 12 Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium for OU’s third straight series win...the 2005 meeting marked the first time since 1961 that both teams entered the game unranked...both teams finished the 2005 season ranked in the top 25...the Huskers and Sooners went head-to-head for 71 consecutive seasons (since 1927) before the streak was snapped in 1998 with the start of the two-year, North-South rotations in the Big 12...OU’s 2000 win ended NU’s series-long seven-game winning streak...the 1971 game was known as the “Game of the Century,” as No. 1 NU edged No. 2 OU, 35-31, in Norman...since the AP poll began in 1936, the NU-OU game has had at least one ranked team 58 times in 68 contests, with both teams ranked in 24; the series has featured at least one top-10 team in 46 games, two top-10 teams in 18...an unranked team has upset a ranked team five times, including in 2009...one of the two teams has been ranked entering the contest in all but three games since 1948...the winning team has had to come from behind in 26 of the last 37 games...the 1923 game was the first played in NU’s Memorial Stadium.
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops
Bob Stoops (Iowa, ‘83) is in his 11th season as Oklahoma’s head coach, and owns a 127-31 record with the Sooners. He has guided OU to six Big 12 Conference titles and the 2000 national championship. Stoops has led the Sooners to at least 11 wins in eight of his 10 seasons in Norman. Like Bo Pelini, Stoops is a native of Youngstown, Ohio, and a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School.
Huskers, Sooners to Meet for Final Time as Conference Rivals
Nebraska and Oklahoma have had one of the nation’s finest conference rivalries for more than 80 years. The 2010 Big 12 Championship Game is a fitting conclusion to a series that has seen the two schools decide countless conference championships. In the Big 12 Conference era (1996-present), Nebraska and Oklahoma have combined for 14 of a possible 30 conference championship game appearances.
The two schools met for 71 consecutive seasons from 1927 to 1997 before taking breaks in the Big 12’s North-South schedule rotation. Oklahoma holds a 44-38-3 all-time edge between the two schools, including winning four of the past five meetings. OU leads the series 5-4 in the Big 12 era (since 1996).
-Since the AP poll began in 1936, the NU-OU game has featured at least one ranked team in 60 of 70 matchups, and this is the 25th time both teams have been nationally ranked.
-Nebraska and Oklahoma are two of just eight programs all-time with at least 800 victories. Since 1970, Nebraska and Okahoma are first and third, respectively, in total wins.
Huskers Set for Sixth Big 12 Title Game Appearance
Nebraska has earned a trip to the Big 12 Conference Championship Game in its final season in the league. The appearance in the 2010 game is Nebraska’s second straight in the contest and its sixth in the 15-year history of the game. The Huskers clinched their trip to the game with a 45-17 win over Colorado, giving NU a 6-2 Big 12 record. Nebraska and Missouri tied atop the North Division, but NU advanced to Arlington based on its 31-17 victory over the Tigers on Oct. 30 in Lincoln.
-Nebraska has also played in the Big 12 title game in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2006 and 2009. The Huskers captured the conference crown in 1997 and 1999. Nebraska’s six Big 12 Championship appearances lead the North Division schools, bettering Colorado’s four appearances. Only Oklahoma (8) has played in more Big 12 title games. (Recaps of Nebraska’s five previous Big 12 Championship apperances can be found on pages 25-26 of these notes).
-In addition to its six Big 12 Championship Game appearances, Nebraska also tied for the divisional crown in 2001 and 2008, giving Nebraska at least a share of the North Division title in eight of 15 Big 12 seasons.
-This is the second time Nebraska has met Oklahoma in the league title game (also in 2006). Nebraska has met Texas three times in six conference championship appearances and also squared off with Texas A&M once.
Nebraska Closing out Run in Big 12 Conference
Nebraska’s appearance in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game against Oklahoma will mark the Huskers’ final conference game as a member of the league. Nebraska is set to join the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2011. The Huskers’ win last Friday over Colorado gave NU an 81-39 regular-season record in its 15 seasons of Big 12 play. Nebraska also has a 2-3 record in conference championship games.
-Nebraska and Oklahoma have been members of the same conference every year since 1928, when NU, OU, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Missouri formed the Big Six Conference. The league expanded to the Big Seven in 1948, the Big Eight in 1960 and the Big 12 in 1996.
Nebraska Captures Second Straight 10-Win Season
Nebraska picked up its 10th win of the 2010 season with its 45-17 victory over Colorado last Friday in Lincoln. Nebraska finished 10-4 in 2009, and the back-to-back 10-win seasons are a first for Nebraska since 2000 (10-2) and 2001 (11-2). Nebraska is one of seven schools in the nation with back-to-back 10-win seasons.
-The 2010 season marks the first time Nebraska has posted 10 wins in the regular season since the 2001 team won its first 11 games and finished the regular season at 11-1.
-Bo Pelini joined Frank Solich as the only Nebraska coaches to post two 10-win seasons in their first three years in Lincoln.
-This is Nebraska’s 25th all-time 10-win season in school history, including 23 since 1970.
-A win in the Big 12 Championship Game would give Nebraska its first 11-win season since 2001, and just the 13th 11-win season in school history.
Huskers in Elite Group with Three Straight Nine-Win Seasons
Nebraska secured its third straight nine-win season under third-year head coach Bo Pelini in early November.
-The three straight years of nine wins marks the first time NU has accomplished that since its NCAA record streak of 33 straight nine-win seasons from 1969 to 2001.
-Nebraska was one of only 22 schools to win nine games in both 2008 and 2009. Nebraska is one of only nine schools in that group to have secured a third straight nine-win season, joining TCU, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Alabama and Utah.
Nebraska has 45 nine-win seasons in school history.
Nebraska Churning out Impressive Rushing Numbers
Nebraska finds itself back among the Big 12 and national leaders in rushing offense. Nebraska is averaging 269.2 rushing yards per game to rank first in the Big 12 and eighth nationally. Nebraska finished seventh in the nation in rushing in 2003, but has not finished higher than 23rd in that category since. If the Huskers were to maintain their current rushing average, it would mark their best rushing output since averaging 314.7 yards on the ground in 2001.
The Huskers opened the season with 289 rushing yards against Western Kentucky and have since topped that total four times. NU picked up 360 rushing yards against Idaho, and 383 yards at Washington. 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. The Huskers churned out 328 rushing yards against Missouri in Lincoln.
-Nebraska has topped 200 rushing yards in 10 of 12 games. The Huskers are 10-0 when rushing for 200 yards and 0-2 when they have failed to reach that plateau.
-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 also topped 200 rushing yards in road wins at Oklahoma State (217) and Iowa State (235).
-Nebraska has produced five of the top-10 team rushing efforts since 2004 this season, including the first, third and fifth-best rushing efforts in that stretch.
-Senior I-back Roy Helu Jr. has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season, the first NU player to do that since Calvin Jones in 1992 and 1993. Helu’s 1,120 rushing yards is 17th on the NU single-season list and he is 180 yards from reaching the top 10 on the Huskers’ season chart.
-Quarterback Taylor Martinez has 974 yards, and with another 26 rushing yards, he and Helu Jr. will become just the fourth Nebraska duo to each have 1,000 rushing yards in a season joining Calvin Jones and Derek Brown in 1992, Ahman Green and Scott Frost in 1997, and Dahrran Diedrick and Eric Crouch in 2001.
-Sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead stands at 822 yards heading into the Big 12 Championship and has an outside shot of reaching the 1,000-yard plateau. Nebraska has never had three players reach 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.
-Nebraska had three players crack the century mark in rushing yards at Washington, as Martinez, Helu Jr. and 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.
-NU narrowly missed another double 100-yard effort with Burkhead rushing for a career-high 129 yards at Iowa State, and Helu Jr. totaling 99 yards.
-Nebraska has 12 100-yard rushing games in 2010 after having just five each of the past two years and six in 2007. The 12 100-yard games are the highest by a Husker squad since the 2001 team posted 16 100-yard rushing outings in 13 games.
-Helu Jr. set a Nebraska school-record with 307 rushing yards in Nebraska’s win over Missouri, which marks the His rushing yardage the third-highest total in Football Bowl Subdivision in 2010.
-Nebraska is averaging 5.87 yards-per-carry, the fifth-best average in the country.
-Nebraska has rushed for 3,230 yards in 12 games. In 14 games in 2009, NU 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 was the headliner early in the season in an offense that has flashed tremendous big-play ability, but several other players have shown big-play capability. NU is averaging 6.50 yards per play, among the top 20 teams in the country. That is just one of several impressive numbers posted by Nebraska in 2010.
-Nebraska has reached the end zone 51 times. The average length of those 51 touchdown plays has been 31.7 yards, with 23 of those plays covering at least 31 yards.
-Through 12 games, Nebraska has 60 offensive plays from scrimmage of at least 20 yards (32 rush, 28 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 22 of 45 touchdown drives, including six one-play scoring drives, five two-play scoring drives and four three-play touchdown drives. Eighteen of the 45 drives have taken less than 2:00, including 13 touchdown drives using 1:00 or less, most recently two against Colorado.
-Nebraska has six return TDs this season, including four INT returns, a kickoff return and a punt return. On its six one-play scoring drives and its six return touchdowns, the average length of NU’s scores is 57.6 yards.
-Nebraska has 31 TD runs that total 914 yards (29.5 yds per TD), 14 TD passes that total 360 yards (25.7 yds per TD) and 45 TDs from scrimmage for a total of 1,274 yards (28.3 per TD).
-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 accomplished the feat for a second time vs. Mizzou, including three runs of at least 53 yards by Roy Helu Jr.
-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.
-Nebraska’s average touchdown drive this season lasts 5.6 plays and covers 63.2 yards in 2:19.
-Thirty-four of the 45 TD drives have consumed less than four minutes. The Huskers’ longest touchdown drive of the season came on their final scoring drive at Oklahoma State, taking 6:23 and 12 plays to cover 81 yards. That drive iced the OSU game, and against Missouri, NU killed the final 8:40 on the clock on a non-scoring drive. NU’s two regulation TD drives at Iowa State took 12 and 11 plays, respectively.
Fast Starts a Key for Huskers
Led by its quick-strike offense, Nebraska has regularly had fast starts this season, scoring on its opening possession less than 10 minutes into the game eight times.
-The Huskers have scored on their opening possession in nine of their last 14 games, dating back to last season. During the streak, the Huskers have scored six touchdowns (Arizona in 2009 and WKU, UW, KSU, OSU and MU in 2010) and three field goals (Texas in 2009 and Idaho and Texas A&M in 2010). On opening possessions this season, NU has scored 41 points, while the opposition has scored just three points on its opening possession.
-The Huskers have been especially fast starters on the road, scoring in the first nine minutes of the game eight times in the past 10 games away from Lincoln.
-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 89-30 in the first quarter in 2010. Nebraska opened a 24-0 first-quarter lead against Missouri, including a touchdown on its first offensive play. The Huskers’ 24 first-quarter points were their most in the opening quarter since scoring 38 against Baylor in 2000.
-The quick scores have afforded Nebraska the luxury of playing with a lead. Nebraska did not trail in its first five games and has had a deficit in just four games this season. Aside from trailing the final 55 minutes against Texas, NU has had a deficit for only 20:38 this season (5:04 at OSU, 6:30 at ISU, 9:04 at Texas A&M).
-Forcing turnovers has also been a key part of the quick starts. In 12 of the past 19 games, NU has forced a first-half turnover. These turnovers have resulted in eight touchdowns and two field goals.
Backs Making Most of Touches
Nebraska quarterbacks and I-backs have made the most of their offensive touches this season. The explosive NU offense has averaged just 65.3 plays per game, 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.
-Quarterback Taylor 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 ranks third in the nation at 7.3 yards per carry.
-Sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead has 156 touches this season, and has accumulated 947 yards, an average of 6.1 yards per touch. He is averaging 5.7 yards on his 144 rushing attempts and 10.4 yards on 12 pass receptions. Nine of his touches have covered at least 20 yards.
-Senior I-back Roy Helu Jr. has also made the most of 166 rushing attempts, rolling up 1,120 yards. Helu Jr. is averaging 6.7 yards per carry to rank sixth nationally. Helu has six touchdown runs of at least 53 yards this season and has 10 rushes of 50 yards or more in his career. His 73-yard touchdown run against Missouri was a career long, bettering his 68-yarder at Kansas State earlier in October.
Helu Jr. Continues Climb in Nebraska Rushing Record Book
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.
The senior has posted his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season with 1,120 rushing yards this season, heading into the Big 12 Championship. Helu Jr. is the first Nebraska player to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons since Calvin Jones in 1992 and 1993. That is just the latest milestone for the California native who has proven to be one of the finest backs in Nebraska history. He is averaging 93.3 yards per game to rank fifth in the Big 12 and 30th nationally.
Helu has been effective in two career games against Oklahoma, averaging 147.5 yards and 8.2 yards per carry against the Sooners. He had 157 yards two years ago in Norman and 138 yards on 20 carries in 2009 in Lincoln.
-Helu Jr. had a record-setting effort in Nebraska’s 31-17 victory over Missouri in Lincoln. Helu took the Huskers’ first snap from scrimmage and raced 66 yards for a touchdown. That long score was a sign of things to come, as Helu added a career-long 73-yard TD run later in the first quarter and a 53-yarder in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, he showed the ability to be a workhorse and helped NU run the final 8:40 off the clock. In doing so, Helu Jr. set a Nebraska single-game record with 307 rushing yards on 28 carries. The mark topped the previous Nebraska school-record of 294 rushing yards by Calvin Jones in 1991. Helu Jr.’s rushing total is the third-most in the FBS ranks this season.
-Helu Jr.’s effort against Missouri marked just the third time in the past five seasons a player in the Football Bowl Subdivision has had three touchdown runs of at least 50 yards in a game. Helu also set a Nebraska record for single-game all-purpose yards with 321 against the Tigers.
-Helu has posted four 100-yard rushing games in 2010. In addition to his record effort against Mizzou, he has topped the century mark against Idaho, Washington and Kansas State, giving him 11 career 100-yard games. He is just the 15th player in NU history with at least 10 100-yard rushing games. He narrowly missed his fifth 100-yard game of the year with 99 rushing yards at Iowa State. Helu has 10 rushing touchdowns this season, including a career-high tying three against Missouri. His 27 career rushing touchdowns make him one of 17 Nebraska players with at least 25 career rushing touchdowns.
-Helu has 3,279 career rushing yards, and has moved up from 11th to fourth on the NU career rushing chart over the past month. In the Missouri game alone, Helu passed Derek Brown, Cory Ross, Dahrran Diedrick, Lawrence Phillips and I.M. Hipp on the career chart. At Iowa State he moved in front of Ken Clark, and he surpassed Calvin Jones at Texas A&M. Helu Jr. is 155 yards behind third-place Eric Crouch (3,434).
-Helu has 1,120 rushing yards this season, giving him the 30th 1,000-yard rushing season in school history. He is 179 yards from reaching the single-season top 10.
-Helu has shined against top competition and in road environments. Helu has four 100-yard rushing games in NU’s last 10 contests against ranked opponents. In 13 road games since the beginning of the 2008 campaign, Helu has rushed for 1,224 yards on 194 carries and average of 6.3 yards per tote.
-Helu had a Big 12-best 12 runs of 20+ yards in 2009, and 29 rushes of at least 20 yards over his past 28 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.
-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.
Burkhead Gives NU Strong 1-2 Punch at Running Back, Showing Versatility
Nebraska sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead teams with Helu Jr. to give Nebraska one of the nation’s best running back tandems. Burkhead has rushed for 822 yards this season, while averaging 5.7 yards per rush. The Plano, Texas native has been arguably Nebraska’s most valuable performer in the month of November while quarterback Taylor Martinez has been slowed by an ankle injury.
-Burkhead has often engineered the Nebraska offense from the Wildcat formation, and has been extremely effective in the role. The 5-11, 210-pounder has posted two of his four career 100-yard rushing games in recent weeks, running for a career-high 129 yards at Iowa State and 101 yards against Colorado.
-Burkhead excelled in the Wildcat role against Colorado. In addition to several strong runs out of the formation, Burkhead threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Kyler Reed. He also threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Kinnie on a second-quarter halfback pass. He is believed to be the first Nebraska non-quarterback to throw for two touchdowns in a game in the modern era.
Martinez Making Name for Himself on National Level
Nebraska redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez remains a leading candidate for National Freshman of the Year, and all-conference accolades, despite being hobbled by injury for the past month. Martinez did not play against Colorado and his status for the Big 12 Championship Game is uncertain.
Martinez has 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 seven times, while completing 97-of-163 passes and throwing for nine touchdowns.
Martinez’s signature performances this 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 974 yards on 134 carries, an average of 7.3 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 88.5 rushing yards per game to rank 35th in the nation and sixth in the Big 12. He is third nationally among quarterbacks, and fourth nationally among freshmen. Martinez’s game average took a significant hit at Iowa State when he played one play in an emergency role (lined up at WR) and did not have a carry.
-Martinez’s 7.27 yards per rush rank third among players in the top 100 nationally in rushing.
-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, and marks the most for a quarterback since Eric Crouch in 2001.
-In four road games when he has played at quarterback, Martinez has rushed 64 times for 507 yards and seven touchdowns. He averages 7.92 yards per rush away from home and has scored seven touchdowns in 64 carries–one TD every 9.1 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, with three each against Western Kentucky and Washington, and four against Kansas State. His 12 rushing TDs 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 974 rushing yards rank second on the Nebraska freshman season rushing chart, while ranking No. 1 among quarterbacks. He is 112 yards from Ahman Green’s Nebraska freshman record (1,086). Eric Crouch held the previous NU freshman QB record with 459 yards in 1998.
-Martinez is 26 yards from the second 1,000-yard rushing season by a Nebraska freshman and the fourth 1,000-yard season by a NU quarterback. It would also mark only the third 1,000-yard rushing season in NCAA history by a freshman quarterback. He is 121 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 the first 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 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 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 in the same game. 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.
Points Don’t Come Easy vs. Huskers
Oklahoma State was the first NU opponent to top 21 points in 15 games, and Nebraska has been remarkably stingy on the scoreboard the past two seasons. The 2009 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, NU ranks eighth nationally in scoring defense at 16.8 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 30 red-zone drives in 2010, with only 15 resulting in touchdowns.
-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, nine of 12 teams have scored 20 or fewer points, and only one has scored more than 24 points in regulation play.
-Only 10 Nebraska opponents have scored as many as 17 points since the start of the 2009 season (26 games). In the past two seasons, Nebraska has allowed 10 or fewer points in 12 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. In 2010, NU ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency defense (94.11 rating) and is second in passing yards allowed per game (144.8 ypg). The Huskers have caused major problems for opposing passers, including highly rated prospects Nathan Enderle of Idaho, Jake Locker of Washington and Blaine Gabbert of Missouri.
-Nebraska opponents are completing 48.79 percent of their pass attempts, the second-best in the nation. That includes a 4-of-20 effort by Washington’s Jake Locker, and a 4-of-16 showing by Texas’ Garrett Gilbert, a 3-of-13 effort by Kansas, and 10-of-27 outing by Colorado. Opponents have thrown for 12 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 18 interceptions this season to tie for seventh in the country. Nebraska has intercepted 5.45 percent of opposing passes, second 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 144.8 passing yards per game, including six with 135 yards or less. Washington threw for just 71 yards, South Dakota State had 95 yards, Texas had 62 yards and Kansas had just 15 passing 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.
-The 15 passing yards allowed against Kansas were the fewest by NU since allowing zero completions against Nicholls State in 2006. It was just the eighth time since 1990 NU has held an opponent to 50 or fewer passing yards. Kansas did not complete a pass after the first quarter (0-of-9), and had only one completion longer than two yards.
-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. If NU were to maintain its 144.8 yard per game pass defense average it would rank as the Huskers’ best since allowing 131.0 yards per game in 1990.
-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 nine of its past 18 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 has added interception returns for touchdowns at Washington and at Iowa State. This season is the first time Nebraska has had four INT returns for a touchdown in a season since 1996, and the four picks for touchdowns matches the combined total of 2008 and 2009. The school record for interceptions for touchdowns is five set in both 1971 and 1995.
The Nebraska pass defense will have its hands full against Oklahoma. The Sooners rank fourth nationally in passing at 336.3 yards per game, while quarterback Landry Jones is third in passing yards per game.
Prince Leads a Royal Nebraska Secondary
In 2010 it has been hard to single out one player as the standout in the Nebraska secondary. Every player who has seen extensive action has 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.
Amukamara has shown why he earned the preseason hype, but ironically he is the only player among NU’s top eight 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 18 picks, including four for scores.
The dominant coverage skills exhibited by Amukamara have been recognized on the conference and national level. Amukamara is one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back. Amukamara is Nebraska’s first-ever finalist for the Thorpe Award. Prince was also one of eight semifinalists for the Lott IMPACT Defensive Player of the Year and one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award. He is also a strong contender for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Amukamara has made 50 tackles, including a career-high 10 tackles at Texas A&M. Prince has also posted a team-high 13 pass breakups, including a career-high tying three PBU against Missouri. He had two breakups each against Idaho, Kansas State and Colorado, and has eight games the past two seasons with multiple pass breakups. His first PBU against Idaho deflected into the air and was intercepted by P.J. Smith--the first of five NU picks in the game. The 6-1, 205-pound Amukamara has 27 career pass breakups, which places him seventh on the Husker career list.
-Amukamara’s impact can not be measured only by interceptions, tackles and PBU. Through 11 games opponents had targeted Amukamara just 43 times, and completed only 13 passes against the lock-down corner.
-His 13 pass breakups are tied for third in the nation and rank seventh on the Nebraska single-season 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.
-Senior Eric Hagg is Nebraska’s nickel back and has been arguably Nebraska’s biggest play-maker on defense in 2010. Hagg has a team-leading five interceptions this season, to rank in a tie for first in the Big 12 and tied for 16th nationally in interceptions. Hagg picked off Washington’s first pass attempt of the game, that set up the Huskers’ opening score. He also had two breakups against the Huskies and earned Big 12 Co-Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors for his effort at Washington.
Hagg 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 and seven solo stops and two TFL vs. Missouri. Against Iowa State, Hagg had his fourth pick of the season, and ironically he does not officially receive credit for his most important interception of the year. In overtime, ISU scored to cut NU’s lead to 31-30, then faked its PAT attempt, which Hagg alertly intercepted to secure a win. He added a pick in the third quarter against Colorado and his 26-yard return set up a
Nebraska touchdown one play later. Hagg was chosen as a second-team mid-season All-American by SI.com.
-Junior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard teams with Amukamara to give NU two of the nation’s top cover corners. Dennard has four interceptions this season, including a 31-yard touchdown return for a score against Washington. He is tied for 28th nationally in interceptions, and also has 23 tackles and six pass breakups. Dennard missed most of the Missouri game and all of the Iowa State game with an injury.
-Senior safety/dime back DeJon Gomes has been a turnover machine during his NU career. Gomes has intercepted seven passes in 22 career games, and has also caused five fumbles. In 2010, Gomes has caused two fumbles and has three interceptions. He picked off an Idaho pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown, added his second pick against Missouri, and then his third pick on Colorado’s first drive of the second half. He also had a 19-yard fumble return against the Buffs. Gomes ranks second on the team with 89 tackles, including a career-high 12 stops at Kansas State and double-figure tackle totals against Texas and Oklahoma State. He has four tackles for loss.
-Three new faces excelled in the NU secondary against Missouri. Junior Austin Cassidy and sophomore Courtney Osborne were Nebraska’s starting safeties, and performed well with six tackles each. True freshman corner Ciante Evans was called upon when Dennard went out with an injury, and responded with four tackles and two breakups. Cassidy was even better against Iowa State, with a career-high 12 tackles and a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown. He also caused a fumble. Cassidy has 38 tackles on the year, while Osborne has 31 tackles, including five tackles for loss.
Blackshirts Boast Amazing Improvements over Past Three 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 in 2009. 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 16.8 points to rank eighth nationally.
-In two seasons, Nebraska’s sack total has increased from 13 to 35 to 44 in 2009. This season, Nebraska has 29 sacks in 12 games, including a seven-sack effort against Idaho and six each against Missouri and Kansas.
-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 291.8 yards per game this season to rank fifth in the nation, and first in the Big 12. The Blackshirts have held 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 second in passing yards allowed at just 144.8 yards per game.
Pelini Defenses Excel in the Postseason
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini has an excellent track record of postseason defensive success, both in his time as Nebraska head coach and previously as a defensive coordinator. Pelini-coached defenses have snuffed out opponents in the majority of postseason games, including five conference title games and six bowl games. In 11 postseason games, his defenses have allowed an average of just 16.7 points, 81.2 rushing yards and 241.5 total yards.
The numbers are even better when looking at his postseason games at Nebraska. In three bowl wins and last year’s Big 12 Championship, Nebraska has allowed a total of 37 points (9.3 ppg), including last year’s Holiday Bowl shutout of Arizona. The Huskers have allowed only three offensive touchdowns in four postseason games under Pelini. His Blackshirt defenses have allowed an average of only 32.8 rushing yards and 173.8 total yards in four postseason games. Last season, Nebraska held Texas to 202 total yards in the Big 12 Championship Game and Arizona to 109 total yards in the Holiday Bowl.
Crick Looking for Another Award-Winning Season
Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick emerged as a standout performer last fall and is the anchor of Nebraska’s defensive line 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.
Crick received first-team mid-season All-America honors from Rivals.com, and second-team All-America honors from two other outlets. In late October, Crick was named one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, before the award’s list was trimmed to four finalists. Crick remains a contender for numerous postseason honors and is currently playing his best football of 2010.
Crick has 60 tackles, including a season-high nine tackles against Kansas. He is third on the team in tackles and first among linemen. Crick leads all Big 12 defensive linemen in tackles per game at 5.0 per contest.
Crick leads the Blackshirts with 7.5 sacks, including five in the past five games. Crick ranks fourth in the Big 12 in sacks. He had two sacks against Kansas for 12 yards, and shared a pair of sacks at Texas A&M. Crick’s 14 tackles for loss (69 yards) are tied for the team lead and are just one off his 2009 TFL total. Crick has also added nine hurries.
The recent sack surge by Crick has pushed his career total to 17, tying him for eighth on the Nebraska career list. He has 29 career tackles for loss. The top statistical game of Crick’s 2010 season came against Idaho, when Crick had 2.5 sacks for 30 yards and four tackles for losses, totaling 32 yards. He had a season-high eight tackles and two TFL in the win over Missouri.
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 in 2009.
-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 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 128 tackles, and his 10.7 tackles leads the Big 12 and ranks 15th nationally.
David is tied for sixth on the Nebraska single-season tackle list. His 100-tackle season is the first by a Blackshirt defender since Barrett Ruud recorded 143 tackles in 2004, and he is poised to threaten Ruud’s single-season record of 149 tackles in 2003. David is also tied for the team lead with 14 tackles for loss, is second in sacks (6-50) and pass breakups (10), while ranking fourth in hurries (7).
The play of the 6-1, 210-pound David has drawn national attention. He was 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 ties for the most in the Big 12 this season, and is 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.
-David has seven games with double-figure tackle totals this season, most recently 14 at Texas A&M, including four tackles for loss.
Henery Making a Run at NCAA Records
Nebraska place-kicker Alex Henery has been one of the nation’s best for the past four seasons. However, a closer examination of Henery’s amazing kicking numbers reveals that he is one of the best place-kickers in NCAA history.
-Henery has made 89.2 percent of his career field goal attempts (66-of-74). The NCAA record is 87.8 percent by Florida’s Bobby Raymond. (min. 45 attempts)
-Henery has made 77.4 percent of his career field goals from 40 yards or longer (24-of-31). The NCAA career record is 72.1 percent by Georgia’s Billy Bennet.
-Henery has made 97.7 percent of his career field goals from inside 40 yards (42-of-43). The NCAA career record is 97.0 percent by Florida’s Bobby Raymond.
-Henery is tied for the NCAA record with six career games with at least four field goals.
-Henery has combined to make 256 of his 265 career kicks (PATs and field goals), a 96.6 percent accuracy rate. The NCAA FBS career record is 94.9 percent set by Missouri’s Jeff Wolfert.
Nebraska Records Falling by the Wayside
While Henery is making a push for NCAA records, he has already made a significant mark in the Husker record book and figures to make his name even more prominent in the stretch run of his career. In addition to his place-kicking prowess, the senior from Omaha has also emerged as one of the nation’s top punters the past two seasons.
Henery was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award in late October, marking his second straight year as a semifinalist. He was also named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List, making Henery the only player in the nation who was both a semifinalist for the Groza Award, and a candidate for the Ray Guy Award.
Henery connected on a 42-yard field goal against Colorado and is now 16-of-17 in 2010. He also made all six PATs against the Buffs, giving him 99 points on the season and 388 in his career, tying him for the Nebraska career record with Kris Brown.
Henery made his first 10 field-goal attempts in 2010, giving him a school-record 18 straight made field goals before he had a 51-yarder blocked against Missouri. The 18 straight field goals made broke Kris Brown’s school record of 17 straight. Henery has also increased his career field goal total to 66, nine better than Brown’s previous school record of 57.
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 the Big 12 title game, and finished the year with a 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 16 multiple-FG games in his career, including five in Big 12 Conference play in 2010.
-Henery’s 24 field goals in 2009 shattered the school record, and his 66 career made field goals have come on 74 attempts, making him the most accurate kicker in school history.
-Among kickers with at least 50 career attempts, Henery is the nation’s most accurate active field goal kicker. He is also the most accurate kicker in NU history on extra points, hitting 190-of-191 in his career, a 99.5 percent accuracy rate. He has made 113 straight PATs, including perfect PAT seasons as a freshman and junior. He is 51-of-51 in 2010.
-Among Henery’s eight 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. His next point will break the tie with Kris Brown and make him NU’s all-time scoirng leader. Henery is second nationally in scoring among active players.
-Henery scored 110 points in both 2008 and 2009, eighth on the single-season scoring list. His two 110-point seasons trail only Kris Brown (116 in 1997) for season scoring by a kicker. He has 99 points in 12 games in 2010.
-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 averaging 43.5 yards per punt to rank sixth in the Big 12 and 31st nationally. He has had 23 kicks downed inside the 20, including five against Kansas. Henery has had 14 punts travel at least 50 yards, including a season-long 69-yarder at Iowa State. Henery has averaged at least 47.0 yards per punt five times this season.
Receiving Leader Paul Sidelined by Injury
Nebraska’s offense suffered a big blow when senior receiver Niles Paul went down with a foot injury in practice on Nov. 23. Paul missed the Colorado game and is likely out of this week’s game, but the coaching staff is hopeful he could return for Nebraska’s bowl game.
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 tops among players with 40 catches in a season.
This season, Paul has shown similar all-around skills with 39 catches for 516 yards, most recently with four catches for 53 yards at Texas A&M. With 39 catches, Paul is just three receptions from the top 10 on the Husker single-season receptions chart.
Paul 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 sixth-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 eight of 15 games dating back to last season.
-Paul has moved into the top 10 on the Nebraska career receptions chart, and at 103 career catches, he is just the sixth Husker with 100 career catches. Paul has 1,532 career receiving yards to rank fifth in NU career receiving yards. and against Kansas moved past Maurice Purify and Matt Davison into fifth on the career receiving yardage list.
In 2009, Paul had an impressive list of accomplishments.
-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. This season, Paul again ranks among the league’s best in both categories.
-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). Paul is in position to accomplish that rare feat again in 2010.
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. McNeill averages 17.9 yards per catch on his 14 receptions this season.
-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 75 career catches to rank 10th 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 24 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 had his best game of 2010 at Oklahoma State, posting a career-high five catches for 61 yards.
Kinnie also made huge strides in the offseason, and that has carried into outstanding play in 2010. Kinnie leads the team with 40 catches, while his 455 yards ranks second. He has also caught five touchown passes this season.
-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. He added two touchdown catches against Colorado.
Kinnie 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. Against Kansas, Kinnie matched his career-high with six catches for 67 yards. Kinnie has five games with at least four receptions this season, and his 40 catches are just two outside the NU single-season top 10.
Sophomore tight end Kyler Reed has supplied a big-play threat throughout the year. Reed has 17 catches for 323 yards this season, an impressive 19.0-yard per catch average. Reed has a team-high six touchdown receptions, with four of those covering at least 33 yards. He snared two second-half touchdowns against Colorado, and is just one TD shy of the NU tight end season record.
Nebraska Putting Together Another Strong Second-Half Run
A trademark of Bo Pelini’s first two Nebraska teams was steady improvement. Despite a 9-6 loss at No. 19 Texas A&M, the Huskers have again been strong after the midway point of the season with a 5-1 record.
-Nebraska has won six of its final seven games in both 2008 and 2009. 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 5-1 since the midway point, defeating ranked foes Oklahoma State and Missouri along the way.
-Nebraska’s 3-1 record in October marked the first time since 2003 that NU had just one loss in October.
-Nebraska won nine straight games in November, before its three-point setback in College Station. The Huskers are 10-2 in November under Pelini.
Pelini-coached Nebraska teams are 17-7 in games played before Halloween, including 7-5 in October, and 13-3 in games on or after Nov. 1, with two of the losses against teams ranked in the top four nationally, and the third at No. 19 Texas A&M.
Huskers Strong Away From Lincoln
Nebraska’s loss at Texas A&M ended a streak of eight straight road victories and eight straight Big 12 Conference road wins. The winning streak was Nebraska’s longest on the road since winning 10 straight road games from 1996 to 1998, a streak that ended with a 28-21 loss at Texas A&M in 1998.
Nebraska’s Big 12 road winning streak was its longest since winning its first eight Big 12 games when the league was formed in 1996 and 1997. Nebraska won 19 straight conference 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 is 9-3 on the road in Big 12 play under Bo Pelini, with all three losses against ranked teams. The Huskers are also 3-1 on neutral fields under Pelini.
NU Looking for Third Win over Ranked Foe
Nebraska defeated seventh-ranked Missouri, 31-17, on Oct. 30 in Lincoln, a week after it went on the road and defeated an unbeaten and 17th-ranked Oklahoma State team, 51-41. Nebraska dropped to 2-1 against ranked teams in 2010 with its 9-6 loss at 18th-ranked Texas A&M. The Huskers will have an opportunity for a third win against a ranked opponent when it takes on AP No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday night.
-The wins over Oklahoma State and Missouri marked 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. Prior to this season, the last time Nebraska defeated a pair of teams ranked 20th or higher in consecutive games came 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 over No. 7 Missouri was the highest ranked team NU had defeated since a win over No. 2 Oklahoma in 2001 in Lincoln. It also marked the first time NU had defeated a top-10 team since that 2001 game against OU, ending a streak of 12 straight losses against top-10 teams.
-The win at 17th-ranked Oklahoma State represented the highest ranked team NU had defeated on the road since a 27-14 win at No. 2 Washington in September of 1997.
-Nebraska is 5-3 against ranked teams since the start of the 2009 season. The Huskers were 3-2 against ranked teams in 2009, and are 2-1 this season. The Huskers’ three wins against ranked teams last year marked their most wins over ranked teams since four wins over ranked foes during a 12-1 campaign in 1999.
-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.
-Before the 2009 and 2010 seasons, NU 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.
-In Big 12 play, NU defeated three teams that entered the contest unbeaten (KSU, OSU, MU). Before its wins over Oklahoma State and Missouri, NU last defeated a pair of unbeatens that late in the season in 1995 when NU knocked off 6-0 Kansas State on Oct. 21 and 12-0 Florida in the Fiesta Bowl to close the year.
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. The Huskers moved back into the top 10 in both polls following the win over Missouri on Oct. 30, but slipped back into the second 10 after the loss at A&M.
-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 Hoping to Continue Fourth-Quarter Excellence
Nebraska has been among the nation’s best fourth-quarter teams under Bo Pelini. 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.
-Under Bo Pelini, Nebraska is 30-2 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 48 fourth-quarter points, while scoring 64 of its own.
Injury Bug a Factor For Huskers Throughout 2010
Nebraska endured more than its share of injuries in 2010, beginning in fall camp when four returning starters were sidelined for all of part of the season.
-Senior offensive lineman Mike Smith suffered a season-ending leg injury during the first week of fall camp. 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 since returned, seeing action in the past five games.
-Senior tight end Dreu Young underwent back surgery in late August and was unable to return. 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 was sidelined for the year. Blue was expected to be among Nebraska’s top reserves at corner.
Aside from those injuries, Nebraska made it through the first half of its schedule relatively healthy, but that changed in recent weeks. Against Missouri, quarterback Taylor Martinez injured an ankle and missed the second half of that contest and the Iowa State game before returning against Kansas. He suffered another injury against Texas A&M, and while he returned against the Aggies, Martinez did not play against Colorado. Adding to Nebraska’s quarterback issue is the sore hand of backup quarterback Zac Lee, who did not play in three straight games before returning to reserve duty against Colorado.
Alfonzo Dennard, one of the nation’s top cornerbacks, suffered a concussion against Missouri in the first quarter and missed the remainder of that game and NU’s game at Iowa State.
Senior receiver Niles Paul suffered a foot injury in practice on Nov. 23 and did not play on Senior Day against Colorado, and is not likely to see action in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Nebraska Among Leaders in Associated Press National Titles
Notre Dame leads the nation by winning eight Associated Press national titles since 1936, with Oklahoma (7), Alabama (6), Miami (5), USC (5), Nebraska (4) and Minnesota (4) next in line. While the Huskers were awarded the national title by the coaches in 1997, NU finished second to Michigan in the AP poll.
In 1970, Nebraska was awarded the AP national title, but not the coaches (Texas was first, Ohio State second and NU third) as the final poll was released before the bowl games were played. In the coaches poll (since 1950), NU is tied for fourth with Miami and Texas with four titles, behind Alabama and Oklahoma with six apiece, and USC with five.
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 reach 311 games this season. 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 220, 91 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 20 of the past 24 seasons. Nebraska is 135-19 at home in the last 22 seasons (since 1989). Nebraska finished 6-1 at home this season, its best record at Memorial Stadium since also going 6-1 in 2006.
-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 504-138-20 (.776, 662 games, 121 years) in Lincoln, and 379-115-13 (.759, 507 games, 88 years) in Memorial Stadium (since 1923). Nebraska has had 42 straight winning home seasons, including 2010.
-Nebraska posted its 500th all-time home win against Idaho on Sept. 11. The 500th home victory put Nebraska in elite company. Only three other schools in college football history (Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee) reached the 500-win plateau at home before Nebraska.
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 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.
Huskers Prominent on National Football League Rosters
Nebraska has a long-standing tradition of placing large numbers of players in the NFL. NU had 26 players on 2010 NFL opening-day rosters and three other players on practice squads. The Huskers are represented on the rosters of 19 NFL teams. Nearly 40 former Huskers were in training camps.
Nebraska owns one of the most impressive histories of any school in producing NFL-caliber players. Since the start of Big 12 play in 1996, Nebraska has led all Big 12 schools with 65 players selected in the NFL Draft. No other conference school has had more than 57 players chosen in that period. The Huskers have been especially impressive on defense, with 43 players chosen since 1997. No other Big 12 school has had more than 30. Three Huskers were selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, marking the 41st consecutive season at least three Nebraska players were taken in the draft.
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.
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 Anthony Blue (Anthony, Sr., Seattle, 1987), 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), Anthony West (Robert, Kansas City, San Francisco, 1972-74) and 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 AP poll. The Huskers posted a 17-12 win over LSU in the Orange Bowl and both the Longhorns and Buckeyes lost, 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.
CASSIDY NAMED TO ESPN ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA TEAM
Nebraska junior safety Austin Cassidy was named to the ESPN Academic All-American team on Nov. 23. Cassidy is Nebraska’s first first-team Academic All-American since Dane Todd and Kurt Mann earned the honors in 2005. Cassidy carries a 3.88 cumulative grade-point average in psychology, and was previously named to the all-district team for the second straight year. Cassidy was one of three Big 12 Conference representatives on the first-team Academic All-America list.
NATION-LEADING TOTAL OF COSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICANS
The selection of Cassidy gives NU a nation-leading total of 99 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in football. Nebraska also leads the nation in academic All-Americans with 279 academic All-Americans across all teams and all sports.
NU LEADS IN ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12 SELECTIONS
Nebraska had 23 players named to the 2010 academic All-Big 12 team, including 13 first-team selections, and 10 second-team honorees. Nebraska’s 23 honorees were the highest total in the Big 12 Conference.
The group was highlighted by four players who earned Academic All-Big 12 honors for a third time, including seniors Adi Kunalic and Thomas Grove and juniors Ryan Hill and Lance Thorell. Seven other Huskers earned academic all-conference accolades for a second time. Former Husker linebacker Blake Lawrence was among the honorees nominated with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
SENIOR CLASS IN STRONG ACADEMIC STANDING
Nebraska’s 23-player senior class includes six players playing 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 Posts Impressive EXHAUSTED ELIGIBILITY GRADUATION RATES
Nebraska athletic teams continue to graduate student-athletes at an impressive rate. Nebraska led the Big 12 in exhausted eligibility graduation rates for seven straight years before the NCAA chose not to calculate the rate in 2010. Nebraska however has increased its exhausted eligibility grad rate to an impressive 95 percent.
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 23 percentage points since the inception of the rate in 1991-92.