Game 7: Nebraska at Minnesota
Oct. 22, 2011 | TCF Bank Stadium
Minneapolis, Minn. | 2:30 p.m.
After a bye week at the midpoint of its 2011 schedule, Nebraska begins the second half of its regular season this Saturday afternoon when the Huskers travel to Minneapolis to take on the Golden Gophers. The game from Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium will be televised regionally on ABC with kickoff set for shortly after 2:30 p.m. CT. The game can be seen on ESPN2 in markets not carrying the contest on ABC affiliates.
Nebraska enters the game with a 5-1 record, including a 1-1 record in Big Ten Conference play. The matchup with Minnesota is the Huskers' first division contest in the Big Ten Legends Division after a pair of games against opponents from the Leaders Division.
Before its off week, Nebraska had a dramatic 34-27 victory over Ohio State on Homecoming in Lincoln. NU trailed 27-6 midway through the third quarter, before rallying to post the largest comeback in school history and post its first-ever win in three tries against the Buckeyes. At 5-1, Nebraska will enter the game at Minnesota ranked 13th in the Associated Press Poll, 11th in the USA Today Coaches poll and 13th in the first BCS standings of the 2011 campaign.
Minnesota is also coming off a bye week. The Gophers stand at 1-5 on the season, including an 0-2 mark in Big Ten action. Two of the Gophers' losses this season have come at the hands of ranked opponents, and two of their setbacks have been by a touchdown or less.
Nebraska has played Minnesota more times than any other Big Ten opponent. Saturday's game will be the 52nd all-time meeting between the two schools, but the first since 1990. Nebraska has won 14 straight in the series, but Minnesota holds a 28-21-2 overall edge.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, '90) owns a 35-13 record in his fourth 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 guided Nebraska to a conference championship game the past two seasons and to at least a share of the Big 12 divisional crown his first three seasons as head coach.
Minnesota: Jerry Kill (Southwestern College, '83) owns a 1-5 record in his first season as Minnesota's head coach. Kill is 128-78 in his 18th season overall as a college head coach. Kill previously served as the head coach at Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois.
Nebraska is 842-346-40 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. w Nebraska's 47 all-time bowl appearances rank fifth nationally. w Since 1970, Nebraska has 408 wins, 25 more than any other school. w Nebraska's 99 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation. w The Huskers have had 107 All-Americans in school history.
Noting Game 6...Nebraska 34, Ohio State 27
*-Nebraska's 34-27 victory marked the largest comeback in Husker football history. NU trailed 27-6 midway through the third quarter before scoring the game's final 28 points. Nebraska's previous largest rally in history came with a 17-point comeback at Texas A&M midway through the third quarter in 2002 (31-14, won 38-31). Nebraska also trailed 17-0 in the first quarter at Kansas in 1991 before winning 59-23. The last time Nebraska trailed after three quarters and won the game was at Missouri in 2009 when NU trailed 12-0 after the third, but won 27-12.
*-Nebraska improved to 5-1 to open the season for the second straight year. The Homecoming victory by the Huskers over the Buckeyes also marked NU's first win in a conference home opener since 2007. NU improved to 75-22-4 all-time in Homecoming games and 3-1 under Coach Bo Pelini.
*-Nebraska finished with 232 rushing yards on 51 carries, marking the fifth time in six games this season that the Husker offense has rushed for 200 or more yards. NU is 5-0 this season when rushing for 200 yards and is 15-0 the past two seasons when crossing the 200-yard plateau on the ground.
*-Nebraska rushed for 195 yards after halftime, after managing just 37 rushing yards in the opening half.
*-Junior I-back Rex Burkhead (26 att., 119 yards, 1 TD) and sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez (17 att., 102 yards, 1 TD) produced the 69th double 100-yard rushing game in Nebraska history and the first of the 2011 season. It also marked the second time in their careers that Burkhead and Martinez teamed up for joint 100-yard performances (at Washington with Roy Helu Jr., 2010).
*-Martinez posted his third 100-yard rushing game of the season to give him eight in his career in 19 career games played. Martinez tied Jammal Lord for the second-most 100-yard rushing games by a Husker quarterback in school history. Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch (18) is the only Nebraska quarterback in history with more 100-yard rushing games than Martinez.
*-Martinez also completed 16-of-22 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. His 16 completions were a season high while his 22 attempts tied a season high. The two touchdowns also tied his season best (Washington) and marked just the third time in his young career that he threw for two or more scores in a game. Martinez pushed his career passing total to 2,645 yards and became just the 12th player in school history with 2,500 career passing yards.
*-Martinez accounted for 293 yards of total offense, pushing his career total offensive output to 4,195. Martinez reached the 4,000-yard mark in total offense in his 19th career game played, tying former Husker quarterbacks Zac Taylor (4,138) and Joe Ganz (4,096) as the fastest players in school history to reach 4,000 yards of total offense. His 4,195 yards are the most by any NU quarterback after 19 career games.
*-Burkhead's 100-yard rushing effort was his third of the season and his third in the past four games. Burkhead now has seven career 100-yard rushing games and needs just 68 yards to become the 26th player in Husker history to reach the 2,000-yard career rushing mark. Burkhead rushed 12 times for 96 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter alone.
*-Burkhead had five receptions for 59 yards, both career highs. His previous bests were four receptions and 47 yards (Western Kentucky, 2010). Burkhead's 30-yard touchdown reception was his second career TD reception.
*-Senior linebacker Lavonte David recorded 13 tackles. David pushed his career tackle total to 210, making him the 31st player in Husker history with 200 or more career tackles. David added a fumble caused and recovered in the third quarter that led to a Nebraska touchdown just two plays later, sparking the Huskers' record-breaking comeback. David also had one tackle for loss and a hurry.
*-Sophomore wide receiver Quincy Enunwa had a 36-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, marking the longest reception of his career. His previous career long catch was a 31-yarder against Chattanooga in the season opener.
*-Nebraska junior kicker Brett Maher had field goals of 50 and 34 yards in the first half. The 50-yard field goal tied Maher's career long, also against Chattanooga. His two field goals improved Maher to 11-of-13 on field goals this season with his two in the first half. Both of Maher's misses this season have been from 50 yards.
*-Nebraska forced two Ohio State turnovers in the game, converting the miscues into 14 points.
Minnesota enters Saturday's game with a 1-5 record and an 0-2 mark in the Big Ten. Like Nebraska, Minnesota is coming off a bye week following its first two Big Ten contests. Minnesota opened the year with narrow losses at USC (19-17) and at home against New Mexico State (28-21). The Gophers picked up their lone victory of the season with a 29-23 win over Miami (Ohio) in Minneapolis on Sept. 17
Offensively, the Gophers feature a balanced attack that averages 144.7 rushing yards per game and 155.7 yards per game through the air. Junior quarterback MarQueis Gray is a dual-threat talent for the Gophers and leads the offense in both rushing and passing. On the ground, Gray has rushed for 371 yards and a touchdown, while averaging nearly five yards per carry. The 6-4, 229-pound Gray has also thrown for 625 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Duane Bennett is the top ground threat after Gray, averaging more than 41 yards rushing per contest. Senior wide receiver DaJon McKnight is one of the Big Ten's best and has 25 receptions for 316 yads and a touchdown midway through the season. McKnight has 93 career receptions entering this week's game.
Defensively, Minnesota is allowing 414.2 yards and 35.0 points per game. The Gophers are led by senior defensive back Kim Royston who has accumulated 51 tackles in the first half of the season. Senior linebacker Gary Tinsley has added 39 tackles, including four tackles for loss, and sophomore defensive back Brock Vereen checks in with 39 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a team-high four pass breakups and an interception.
Special teams has been the Gophers' strongest area through the first half of the season. Sophomore punter Dan Orseske averages nearly 42 yards per punt, while receiver Marcus Jones has been a strong kickoff return threat. Jones averages 27.8 yards per return to rank second in the Big Ten and among the top 15 nationally. Place-kicker Chris Hawthorne has connected on 6-of-9 field goal attempts, with a long of 47 yards.
Before Nebraska's move to the Big Ten Conference, the Huskers had played more games against the Gophers than any other non-conference opponent. Minnesota holds a 28-21-2 edge in the 51 meetings between the two schools, however Nebraska has won the past 14 meetings dating back to 1963. The cumulative score in the 14 Nebraska victories is 553-100, and since 1972 Nebraska is 7-0 against Minnesota with four shutouts and a combined score of 387-27.
Minnesota's most recent victory in the series came in 1960 when the 12th-ranked Gophers won 26-14 in Lincoln. The Gophers went on to win the national championship that season. Minnesota also defeated Nebraska on their way to AP national titles in 1936, 1940 and 1941.
Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill
Jerry Kill is in his first season with the Gophers following a successful three-year run at Northern Illinois. Kill guided NIU to a 23-16 record and three consecutive bowl appearances. He was the head coach at Southern Illinois from 2001 to 2007, taking the Salukis to the FCS playoffs in each of his final five seasons. Kill also served as head coach at Saginaw Valley State and Emporia State.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his fourth season as Nebraska's head coach and owns a 35-13 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 that league 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 35-13 record, Pelini has 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. Pelini has joined Solich as the only NU coaches with two 10-win seasons in their first three years.
*-Pelini, Solich and Texas' Mack Brown were 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 schools. 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 34 wins.
*-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. Only Pelini and Bill Stewart (former West Virginia coach) from the group won nine games each of the past three seasons.
Pelini Continues Defensive Accomplishments at Nebraska
At Nebraska, Pelini has continued his history of building championship defenses. Nebraska finished second in the Big 12 in total defense in 2008, a year after NU was 100th or worse in nearly every defensive category. In 2009, the Huskers led the nation in scoring defense and had the nation's best scoring defensive improvement (18.1 ppg). Last season Nebraska again ranked among the nation's best in several defensive categories.
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 114 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini's defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 36 times and to 20 points or less 74 times.
*-Pelini-led defenses have 224 total takeaways, including two top-three national rankings.
Four Assistants in First Season on Husker Staff
After having the same coaching staff for each of his first three seasons at Nebraska, Bo Pelini welcomed four new assistants in 2011. Rich Fisher (receivers), John Garrison (assistant offensive line/tight ends), Ross Els (linebackers) and Corey Raymond (secondary) are all in their first seasons as full-time members of the Husker coaching staff.
In addition to the new faces, Pelini shuffled some duties among returning coaches. Tim Beck takes over the role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Ron Brown shifts to tutoring the Nebraska running backs.
Nebraska in Inaugural Season in Big Ten Conference
Nebraska officially became the 12th member of the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2011. The Huskers began their first season of Big Ten Conference earlier this month and are 1-1 in conference action.
Nebraska has won football championships in four conferences during its 121 years of intercollegiate football, and also competed as an independent for several years. Overall, Nebraska has won 43 conference championships.
The major conferences for the Nebraska football program since the first season of play in 1890 include:
1892-1897: Western Inter-State Foot Ball Association
1898-1906, 1918-1920: Independent
1907-1917, 1921-1927: Missouri Valley Conference (12 conference titles)
1928-1947: Big Six Conference (9 conference titles)
1948-1959: Big Seven Conference
1960-1995: Big Eight Conference (20 conference titles)
1996-2010: Big 12 Conference (2 conference titles)
2011-: Big Ten Conference
Nebraska holds a 32-6 record against Big Ten opponents since 1970. The Huskers have won eight straight games in Lincoln against conference foes dating back to a 1981 loss to Penn State, an independent at that time.
*-Among Big Ten Conference opponents, Nebraska has faced Minnesota the most, taking on the Gophers 51 times. Minnesota holds a 28-21-2 edge in the all-time series, but Nebraska has won the past 14 meetings dating back to 1963.
*-Nebraska and Iowa have met 41 times in football, with the Huskers owning a 26-12-3 advantage. The two teams have met just six times since 1946, with NU winning five of those six meetings. Nebraska and Iowa will complete the regular season against each other through at least 2014, and will battle on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2011 and 2012. Nebraska has played on the day after Thanksgiving every year since 1990, facing either Oklahoma or Colorado.
*-Aside from Minnesota and Iowa, Nebraska had faced the remaining six Big Ten foes on the 2011 schedule a total of 35 times entering the season, led by 13 meetings with Penn State.
Legends and Leaders
The Big Ten Conference is divided into two divisions for football competition-Legends and Leaders. Winners of the respective divisions will meet on Dec. 3 in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
Nebraska is in the Legends Division along with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern. Nebraska will face each member of the Legends Division on an annual basis. The Leaders Division consists of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. The Huskers will face Penn State every year in a protected cross-over game, while the other five opponents will rotate onto Nebraska's schedule.
In 2011 and 2012, Nebraska will face Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Leaders Division. Nebraska will take on Illinois and Purdue in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and does not face Indiana in the regular season in its first four years of Big Ten schedules.
The 2011 Schedule
Nebraska is facing arguably one of the nation's most difficult schedules in 2011 and one of the most demanding slates in school history. The 2011 schedule featured nine games against teams that participated in a bowl game in 2010. Included in that group are BCS bowl teams Ohio State (Sugar) and Wisconsin (Rose). Other teams that appeared in a bowl game include Fresno State (Humanitarian), Washington (Holiday), Michigan State (Capital One), Northwestern (Ticket City), Penn State (Outback), Michigan (Gator) and Iowa (Insight).
Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State shared the Big Ten title in 2010, and each of those three schools won 11 regular-season games.
Nebraska's home schedule is arguably the most attractive in school history. In addition to the new flavor of Big Ten foes, six of the seven opponents coming to Memorial Stadium competed in a bowl game last fall.
Huskers Rally for Historic Comeback Against Ohio State
Nebraska overcame a 21-point deficit on Oct. 8 to defeat Ohio State, 34-27, at Memorial Stadium. The comeback was a record-setting night for the Huskers. Nebraska trailed 27-6 before a Taylor Martinez touchdown run with 7:23 left in the third quarter began the rally.
*-The 21-point deficit was the largest Nebraska has overcome in 122 years of intercollegiate football. Nebraska's previous largest comeback was 17 points on two occasions. Nebraska trailed at Texas A&M, 31-14, midway through the third quarter in 2002, but rallied for a 38-31 win. Nebraska also trailed at Kansas, 17-0, in the first quarter in 1991, before rolling to a 59-23 rout.
*-The win over Ohio State marked just the 14th time in school history Nebraska had rallied for victory after trailing by 14 points or more. Among that group, the Ohio State win was just the fourth time in school history NU had trailed by at least two touchdowns after halftime.
*-Nebraska's rally from 21 points down ties the second-largest comeback in the FBS ranks this season. Houston rallied from a 27-point deficit for a 35-34 win over Louisiana Tech on Sept. 17. Iowa also came back from 21 points down to post a 31-27 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 17.
*-The victory marked the first time Nebraska has trailed after three quarters (27-20) and rallied for a victory since trailing 12-0 at Missouri in 2009, but going on to a 27-12 win. NU's most recent comeback after three quarters in Lincoln was in 2008, when NU trailed Colorado 31-27 after three quarters before winning 40-31.
Crick Sidelined for Remainder of Season
Nebraska senior defensive tackle Jared Crick will be lost for the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. The injury deprives the Nebraska defense of its most experienced and decorated defensive player. Crick was a second-team All-American in 2010, and was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2009 and 2010. The 6-6, 285-pound Crick was considered a candidate for the Outland, Lombardi and Nagurski awards entering the 2011 season.
*-Crick played in five games this season, missing the Wyoming game with an injury. Crick registered 22 tackles, including three tackles for loss and a sack this season. He also had a pass breakup and a blocked kick. Before missing the game at Wyoming, Crick had made 31 consecutive starts and he finishes his career with 33 career starts.
*-Crick finished his career with 20 career sacks, including 9.5 in both 2009 and 2010. His 20 sacks rank eighth in school history and as of last week he was third among active players in career sacks.
*-Crick's 35 career tackles for loss are three shy of the top 10 on the career chart. He had 17 tackles for loss totaling 91 yards in 2010.
*-He had 70 tackles in 2010 to rank third on the team and first among linemen. He led all Big 12 defensive linemen in 2010 with 5.0 tackles per game. Crick finished with 167 career tackles, ninth among NU interior linemen.
*-In 2009, Crick had 73 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. His 5.2 tackles per game were second behind Ndamukong Suh among Big 12 defensive linemen.
*-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.
Husker Players Fill National Award Watch Lists
Nebraska features several players who ranked among the nation's top returning talent in 2011. Crick, senior linebacker Lavonte David and senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard were all selected as preseason All-Americans by at least one media outlet. Including each member of that trio, a total of eight Huskers have combined for 23 selections to preseason watch lists for a major national award. Nebraska also boasted the returning production of several players who rank among the nation's best.
*-David set a school record with 152 tackles in his first year as a Husker in 2010, and has 58 tackles in the first half of the 2011 season. David's career average of 10.5 tackles per game ranks fourth nationally.
*-Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez rushed for 965 yards last season, the second-highest total by a Husker freshman, regardless of position. Martinez's 2010 rushing total ranked second nationally among returning quarterbacks, trailing only Michigan's Denard Robinson. Martinez is second nationally in rushing among QBs in 2011.
*-Martinez and junior I-back Rex Burkhead combined to rush for 1,916 yards last season. That total ranked Martinez and Burkhead as the third-highest returning quarterback-running back rushing tandem in the country. After combining for 137 yards per game last season, the duo has combined for at least 200 rushing yards in five of the first six games and is averaging 203.2 rushing yards per game through six contests.
Nebraska Looks for Another Strong Second-Half Record
Nebraska finished the first half of its regular season at 5-1 for the second consecutive year. In each of Bo Pelini's first three seasons as head coach, Nebraska has equaled or bettered its first-half record during the second six games of the regular season. Overall, Nebraska is 17-7 in the first half of the regular season under Pelini, and 15-3 after the midway point during Pelini's first three seasons.
Regular Season Records Under Pelini
Final Regular-Season Record
*-The 5-1 records in the second half of each of the past three regular seasons were the best for Nebraska since a 5-1 mark after the midway point of the 2001 season. Nebraska last posted a perfect second half of the regular season in 1997 when NU was a perfect 13-0 and won the national championship.
*-Nebraska is 8-1 at Memorial Stadium in the second half of the season over the past three years and 7-2 in road games.
*-The Huskers own a 3-2 record againt ranked opponents after the midway point of the regular season in Pelini's three seasons as head coach.
*-The Nebraska defense has held 12 of 18 opponents to 20 points or less in the second half of the past three regular seasons, including six foes that have been held to single digits on the scoreboard.
*-On offense, Nebraska has scored at least 30 points in 10 of 18 games after the midway point of the regular season under Pelini.
Huskers Featuring One of Nation's Top Rushing Attacks
Nebraska led the Big 12 and ranked ninth nationally in rushing offense in 2010, averaging 247.6 yards per game. Nebraska's national rushing ranking was its highest since 2003 (7th) and the 247.6 yards per game were its best since averaging 268.7 yards on the ground in 2002. Nebraska did not finish higher than 23rd nationally in rushing between 2004 and 2009. The Huskers are again one of the nation's top running teams in 2011, averaging 246.8 yards per game. Nebraska ranks second in the Big Ten and 11th nationally in that category.
The Huskers have topped 200 yards on the ground in five of the first six games, including 309 rushing yards against Washington and 333 rushing yards at Wyoming. Nebraska was limited to 159 rushing yards at Wisconsin. NU is now 15-0 the past two seasons when rushing for 200 yards or more and 22-2 under Bo Pelini when hitting the 200-yard plateau.
The rushing numbers Nebraska has produced since the start of the 2010 season bring back memories of past Nebraska running attacks.
*-Nebraska's back-to-back 300-yard rushing games against Washington and Wyoming marked the second time NU has accomplished that in the past two seasons (also games 2 and 3 in 2010). Prior to that, NU had not topped 300 rushing yards in consecutive games since late in 2002. Nebraska opened 2011 with four straight 200-yard rushing games, after beginning last year with five straight 200-yard rushing games.
*-Nebraska's 333 rushing yards at Wyoming were its seventh-most rushing yards since the start of 2004.
*-Last season, Nebraska posted 300 rushing yards in consecutive road games (Washington, Kansas State) for the first time since 2001.
*-Nebraska has produced six 100-yard rushing games this season (Martinez, 3; Burkhead, 3). A year ago, Nebraska had 12 100-yard rushing games, after having just 16 combined 100-yard rushing games the previous three seasons (2007-2009). The 12 100-yard games in 2010 were the most by NU since the 2001 team had 16 100-yard rushing outings in 13 games.
*-Nebraska has rushed for 1,481 yards through six games. In 2010, Nebraska rushed for 3,466 yards in 14 games, over 1,400 yards more than in 14 games in 2009. The 2010 season marked the first time NU rushed for 2,500 yards in a season since 2003.
Running Game Dominant After Halftime
Nebraska has relied on its running game throughout the 2011 season, however it has done its most damage on the ground after halftime. Nebraska topped 200 second-half rushing yards against both Washington and Wyoming, and fell just short of the 200-yard rushing plateau in the second half of its record-setting comeback against Ohio State (195 yards).
For the season, Nebraska is averaging 246.8 rushing yards per game, including 96.5 yards in the first half and 150.3 yards after halftime. The Huskers average 5.1 yards per rush in the first half and 5.6 yards per carry in the second half.
Husker Running Game by Half
First Half (Att-Yds.)
Second Half (Att-Yds.)
96.5 ypg/5.1 ypc
150.3 ypg/5.6 ypc
Burkhead and Martinez Give NU One of Nation's Top Rushing Tandems
Entering the season, I-back Rex Burkhead and quarterback Taylor Martinez figured to provide Nebraska with one of the nation's top running tandems. The duo has lived up to those expectations during the first half of the 2011 season.
Martinez has rushed 100 times for 584 yards and nine touchdowns, for an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Martinez had 100-yard rushing games in each of the season's first two games, and added his third 100-yard rushing outing against Ohio State. Burkhead has rushed 107 times for 635 yards and nine touchdowns, while averaging 5.9 yards per tote. He has topped 100 rushing yards against Washington, Wyoming and Ohio State, while narrowly missing the mark against Wisconsin. Burkhead had a career-high 170 yards at Wyoming.
Burkhead ranks third in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally in rushing yards per game (105.8 ypg), while Martinez is fifth in the Big Ten and 32nd nationally (97.3 ypg).
The potent rushing duo has combined for six 100-yard rushing days, including the 69th double 100-yard rushing game in school history against Ohio State. It marked the second time in their career (at Washington, 2010) that Martinez and Burkhead had topped the century mark in the same game. The milestone also came against one of the nation's traditionally tough run defenses. The 100-yard rushing games by Burkhead and Martinez marked only the eighth and ninth 100-yard rushing games against the Buckeyes since the start of the 2007 season, and the first time in that time period OSU has allowed a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game.
Both Martinez and Burkhead topped 900 yards last season-Martinez with 965 yards and Burkhead with 951. Nebraska and Wisconsin were the only teams nationally with a pair of returning 900-yard rushers from last season. Not only was a pair of returning 900-yard rushers a rare feat in college football this season, it is also nearly unheard of in the history of Nebraska football. The 2011 season marked only the third time in Husker history that Nebraska returned two 900-yard rushers from the previous season. The only other seasons where NU returned that production were in 1982 (Roger Craig and Mike Rozier) and 1992 (Derek Brown and Calvin Jones).
Burkhead and Martinez also ranked third among the nation's top returning running back-quarterback rushing tandems (behind Michigan's Vincent Smith and Denard Robinson and Oregon's LaMichael James and Darron Thomas).
FBS Teams Returning Multiple 900-Yard Rushers from 2010
1. Wisconsin (James White - 1,052; Montee Ball - 996)
2. Nebraska (Taylor Martinez (QB) - 965; Rex Burkhead - 951)
FBS Top Returning Quarterback-Running Back Rushing Combination
1. Michigan, 2,303 yards (Denard Robinson - 1,702; Vincent Smith - 601)
2. Oregon, 2,217 yards (Darron Thomas - 486; LaMichael James - 1,731)
3. Nebraska, 1,916 yards (Taylor Martinez - 965; Rex Burkhead - 951)
Husker Teams with Two Returning 900-Yard Rushers from Previous Season
» 2011 (Taylor Martinez & Rex Burkhead)
» 1992 (Derek Brown & Calvin Jones)
» 1982 (Roger Craig & Mike Rozier)
Martinez Producing Another Dual-Threat Season
Nebraska sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez has been a prolific play-maker for the Nebraska offense since taking the reins of the offense at the start of the 2010 season. Martinez has produced a strong first half of the 2011 season, much like his redshirt freshman campaign.
Martinez rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns against Chattanooga, then had 166 yards and two touchdowns against Fresno State. His third 100-yard rushing game came against Ohio State when he had 17 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown. Martinez is averaging 97.3 rushing yards per game to rank fifth in the Big Ten and 32nd nationally.
*-Martinez is third in the Big Ten and 31st nationally in total offense at 266.3 yards per game. Martinez threw for 219 yards against Fresno State, the second-highest passing total of his career. In that game, he also posted his second career 200-passing, 100-yard rushing day, the only two such games in NU history.
*-Martinez continues to show his big-play ability. He has six rushes of at least 20 yards in 2011, including four of at least 40 yards. He also has 18 passes covering at least 20 yards, including five plays of more than 40 yards.
*-Martinez rushed for three touchdowns against Chattanooga to mark the fourth time in his career he has rushed for at least three touchdowns, including season openers the past two years. Overall, he has six career multi-rushing TD games.
*-Martinez had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to start the year, and has eight 100-yard rushing games in 19 career games. Martinez's eight career 100-yard rushing games is tied for second with Jammal Lord among Nebraska quarterbacks, trailing only Eric Crouch (18).
In eight September games as Nebraska's starter, Martinez has guided the Huskers to an 8-0 record, with the offense averaging 41.3 points per game. As a September passer, Martinez has completed 77-of-142 passes for 1,179 yards and six touchdowns, but his ground game has provided his biggest September statistics.
Martinez averages 113.9 rushing yards per game in September and has topped 100 rushing yards in five of eight games. He averages an impressive 7.9 yards per carry in September, including 14 rushes of 20 yards or more. Martinez also has 15 of his 19 career rushing touchdowns in September, including runs of 43 (twice), 46 (twice), 47, 67 and 80 yards. Martinez has three games in September with three rushing touchdowns.
Martinez reached a pair of milestones against Ohio State.
*-With his 191 passing yards, Martinez became just the 12th Husker with 2,500 passing yards. He ranks 12th in NU history with 2,645 passing yards and is 170 yards from cracking the top 10.
*-Martinez also cracked the 4,000-yard total offense mark against Ohio State, doing so in his 19th career game. In reaching 4,000 career total offense yards in his 19th career game, Martinez tied for the quickest player to reach that mark in NU history. Quarterbacks Zac Taylor and Joe Ganz also reached 4,000 career total offense yards in their 19th game at Nebraska.
Burkhead a Workhorse in Rushing Attack
Junior I-back Rex Burkhead has been the focal point of the rushing attack over the past month, topping 100 yards three times and posting 96 rushing yards at Wisconsin. Burkhead has 22 carries for 120 yards against Washington, then ran for a career-high 170 yards on just 15 carries at Wyoming. He added a career-high 26 carries for 119 yards in Nebraska's 34-27 win over Ohio State.
Burkhead has seven career 100-yard rushing games and scored nine rushing touchdowns this year, including three games with two rushing touchdowns (Fresno State, Washington, Wyoming). He also had a pair of touchdowns against Ohio State, scoring one by rush and one on a reception.
Burkhead has also accurately earned a reputation as a tough, durable and powerful back.
*- On 107 carries in 2011, Burkhead has just 17 rushing yards lost and averages 5.9 yards per carry.
*-The Nebraska ground game has been at its best in the second half this season, in large part due to Burkhead. NU averages 150.3 yards rushing in the second half. Burkhead saw only limited second-half action in the opener against Chattanooga, but in the past four games, he has averged 77.5 yards rushing in the second half.
*- The victory over Ohio State was the highlight of Burkhead's second-half play in 2011. After rushing for 10 yards on 11 carries before halftime, Burkhead had 15 carries for 109 yards in the second half, including 12 carries for 96 yards in the fourth quarter alone. Burkhead also had a 30-yard fourth-quarter touchdown reception, giving him 139 all-purpose yards in the second half.
Burkhead has also had a key role in clock-killing clinching drives against both Fresno State, Washington and Ohio State. He has 37 fourth-quarter carries and has averaged 6.84 yards per carry in the fourth quarter.
In addition to his second-half excellence, Burkhead has been at his best in the red zone. Of his 21 carries in the red zone, Burkhead has gained a first down or a touchdown on 11 rushes. Overall, Burkhead has scored a touchdown or gained a first down on 37 percent of his carries (38-of-107).
Burkhead continues to move up the Nebraska rushing chart. He has 1,932 career rushing yards to rank 29th on the Husker career rushing list. Burkhead is just 68 yards from becoming the 26th player in NU history with 2,000 career rushing yards.
Nebraska Continuing to Light the Scoreboard in 2011
Nebraska is averaging 37.0 points per game to rank second in the Big Ten Conference and 22nd nationally. The Huskers scored 40 points or more in each of the first three games, and have topped 30 points in five of six games.
*-The 2011 season marked the first time Nebraska opened the season with three straight games of 40-plus points since the 1995 season. Nebraska opened the year with four straight games of at least 40 points en route to a 12-0 record and second straight national championship.
*- This season marked only the fourth time in school history Nebraska scored 40 points or more in each of the first three games, also in 1995, 1989 and 1983. The 1983 team opened the year with five straight 40-plus point games, the 1995 had four and the 1989 team with three.
*-Nebraska had not topped 40 points in three straight games at any point in the season since 2008.
*-This year marks the first time since 2008 Nebraska had 30 or more points in each of its first four games. Prior to 2008, NU had not accomplished that scoring feat since 1995.
*-Nebraska did not reach the end zone in the second half at Wisconsin, but prior to that, the Huskers had scored a touchdown in 14 consecutive quarters. NU has scored at least one TD in 19 of 24 quarters this season.
NU Offense Continues to Show Home-Run Ability
Nebraska's 2010 offense featured a big-play element led by Taylor Martinez, and 2011 appears to be no different. NU is averaging 6.2 yards per play, including 31 offensive plays of at least 20 yards and 11 of more than 40 yards.
*-Martinez has four rushes of more than 40 yards, including a long of 57 yards against Fresno State and touchdowns of 43, 46 and 47 yards. He also had a 37-yard run against Fresno State. Martinez is averaging 5.8 yards per rush and 6.98 yards per play this season.
*-NU had three pass plays of more than 40 yards against Fresno State and added a 50-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage against Washington. Martinez averaged 21.9 yards on 10 completions against Fresno State and 15.5 yards on 10 completed passes against Washington. He is averaging 14.5 yards per completion through six games. Five Husker receivers are each averaging more than 17.0 yards per catch in 2011.
Young Huskers Adding Explosive Element to NU Offense
The Nebraska offense is filled with youth this fall, as 11 players in the offensive two-deep depth chart saw their first action in the opener against Chattanooga. That young talent and ability has been evident in the first half of the 2011 season.
*-Every yard and point in the Fresno State contest was accounted by a player that was a junior or younger, highlighted by explosive plays by Nebraska freshmen and sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez. For the season, Nebraska has had just six points scored by a senior (TD reception by Tyler Legate vs. Washington).
*-A trio of freshmen delivered at the skill positions against Fresno State. I-back/returner Ameer Abdullah and receivers Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell combined for 336 all-purpose yards on 12 touches, a 28.0-yard average.
*-Abdullah had 231 all-purpose yards on eight touches, including a school-record 211 kickoff return yards on five returns. Abdullah had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, tying for the second-longest return in school history. The 211 return yards were eighth in Big Ten history. Abdullah added three returns for 129 yards, including a 66-yarder against Washington and had 187 yards on kickoff returns at Wisconsin. His average of 31.9 yards per return ranks third nationally.
*-Abdullah and fellow true freshmen backs Aaron Green and Braylon Heard combined for 11 rushes for 74 yards against Washington and 15 rushes for 88 yards at Wyoming. Green also had a 25-yard touchdown reception against Washington.
*-Turner and Bell have become big-play threats in the NU passing game. The duo has combined for three receptions of better than 40 yards. Turner leads the team with 13 receptions for 223 yards, an average of 17.2 yards per catch. Of his 13 receptions, 12 have resulted in first downs, and he had a season-high five catches for 84 yards at Wisconsin. Bell averages 18.1 yards on his nine catches in 2011.
Deep Offensive Line an Impressive Mix of Youth and Veterans
Nebraska has a long tradition of annually putting one of the nation's top offensive lines on the field. The Huskers traditionally have also had an offensive line consisting primarily of upperclassmen. Last year, the Huskers started three seniors and a junior on the line for the majority of the season. That trend changed early in 2011, with a youth movement up front. In the first two games in 2011, Nebraska started a true freshman, redshirt freshman, and a pair of sophomores up front, along with a pair of seniors. The past two games, NU has started three seniors and two sophomores in the offensive line.
Highlighting the youth movement is true freshman Tyler Moore who started at right tackle each of the first four weeks, marking a historic milestone in Nebraska history.
*-Moore, who enrolled in January, was the first true freshman offensive lineman to start a season opener in Nebraska history, and just the fourth freshman offensive lineman to earn a start in Nebraska's season opener, joining redshirt freshmen Jeremiah Sirles (2010 vs. Western Kentucky), Marcel Jones (2008 vs. Western Michigan) and Richie Incognito (2002 vs. Arizona State).
*-Moore is also just the fourth true freshman offensive lineman to start a game at Nebraska and the first since 2007. Previous true freshman starters on the offensive line include: Jaivorio Burkes (2 starts in 2007), Jacob Hickman (1 start in 2006) and Matt Slauson (3 starts in 2005).
*-Moore is only the 10th true freshman offensive lineman to appear in a game for the Huskers since freshmen regained eligibility in 1973, and just the sixth to appear in a season opener.
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Play at Nebraska (10)
Tyler Moore (2011), Andrew Rodriguez (2010), Jaivorio Burkes (2007), Jacob Hickman (2006), Matt Slauson (2005), Greg Austin (2003), Toniu Fonoti (1999), John Garrison (1999), Will Shields (1989), Jake Young (1986)
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Play in Season Opener (6)
Tyler Moore (2011), Andrew Rodriguez (2010), Tonui Fonoti (1999), John Garrison (1999), Will Shields (1989), Jake Young (1986)
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Start a Game (4)
Tyler Moore (4 games in 2011), Jaivorio Burkes (2 games in 2007), Jacob Hickman (1 games in 2006),
Matt Slauson (3 games in 2005)
Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Start Season Opener (4)
Tyler Moore (2011), Jeremiah Sirles (RFr., 2010), Marcel Jones (RFr., 2008), Richie Incognito (RFr., 2002)
*-The three underclassmen in the starting offensive line were a rarity. The Chattanooga game marked the first time NU started three underclassmen on the offensive line in any game since 2008, and the first time ever in a season opener.
Against Washington and Wyoming, Nebraska had another rarity on the line. Junior walk-on Seung Hoon Choi started the two games at left guard, joining right guard Spencer Long and center Mike Caputo as original walk-on players who started on the line. The Washington game marked the first time since the first two games of 1988 that Nebraska had started three walk-ons on the offensive line.
Nebraska has employed a rotation with as many as eight offensive linemen in recent weeks. The line has provided the push for Nebraska to rank 11th nationally in rushing offense at 246.8 yards per game.
David Poised to Build on Record-Setting 2010 Season
Linebacker Lavonte David arrived on the Nebraska campus just a few months before the 2010 season, but by the end of the year he had put his name in the Nebraska record book and in the minds of college football fans around the country. In 2011, the 6-1, 225-pound David is playing at an equally high level and is a strong candidate for national honors, including one of the leading contenders for the Butkus Award.
David set a Nebraska season record with 152 tackles in 2010, and his 10.9 tackles per game ranked 11th nationally and topped the Big 12. His tackle total surpassed the previous school record of 149 tackles by Barrett Ruud in 2003. David was also the first Blackshirt defender to record 100 tackles since Ruud in 2004.
David is again pacing the Nebraska defense in 2011. He opened the year with a team-high nine tackles against Chattanooga, then backed that up with 15 tackles against Fresno State. for his ninth career double-figure tackle game, including four with at least 15 tackles. David had his first career interception against Washington to stop a Husky first-quarter scoring threat in the Nebraska red zone. He tied his career high with two sacks and three tackles for loss at Wisconsin. David was a standout against Ohio State with a team-high 13 tackles, and a forced and recovered fumble in the third quarter that triggered Nebraska's school-record rally.
Through six games his 58 tackles leads the team and his 9.7 tackles per game is tied for second in the Big Ten. He also leads the team with six tackles for loss, has a pair of sacks and is tied for the team lead in interceptions, fumble recoveries and fumbles caused.
*- David has two double-figure tackle games this season (15 vs. Fresno State, 13 vs. Ohio State) and has reached double figures in tackles in 10 of 20 games played at Nebraska. He has four games in his career with at least 15 tackles.
*- David has led Nebraska in tackles in three of six games this season, and in 10 of 20 games the past two years.
*- David has pushed his career tackle total to 210, joining 30 other Cornhuskers who have recorded at least 200 career tackles. Despite having the benefit of only two seasons in a Nebraska uniform, David is in position to rank among the top 10 career tackles in school history. He needs 38 tackles to crack the top 10, and just 10 to reach the top 20 on the career list. Demorrio Williams' 220 career tackles are the most by a Nebraska defender who played just two seasons as a Husker (2002-03), while David's 210 tackles are second in that group.
David was dominant in his first season at Nebraska in 2010. In addition to leading the team in tackles, David was second on the team in tackles for loss (15-60), sacks (6-50) and pass breakups (10), while ranking fourth in hurries (7). David was named the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year by every outlet that selected that honor. He was also a first-team All-Big 12 selection, while the Kansas City Star named him its conference defensive player of the year. David also received national accolades, including first-team All-America honors by Rivals.com and CBSSports.com, while the AP and SI.com named him to the second team.
*- David had a career-high 19 tackles in the Huskers' victory over South Dakota State in 2010. His tackle total vs. SDSU was tied for the most in the Big 12, and was the highest for a Nebraska player since Ruud totaled 19 tackles at Kansas State in 2004. The tackle total tied for the seventh-most in a single game in Nebraska history.
*- David had 35 tackles in back-to-back games against South Dakota State and Kansas State, the best for a Husker since Ruud had 36 tackles in back-to-back games against Kansas State and Missouri in 2004. David made 17 tackles against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, giving him the top three tackle efforts of the past six seasons.
Husker Defense Look to Get Back to Stingy Ways
Nebraska was among the nation's top scoring defenses in both 2009 and 2010. The 2009 defense led the nation 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. In 2010, Nebraska again ranked in the top 10 nationally, holding opponents to 17.4 points per game to rank ninth.
Nebraska has struggled in this department in 2011, averaging 27.2 points per game allowed, but the Huskers combined numbers from 2009 to 2011 still rank among the nation's best. Including six games in 2011, Nebraska has allowed an average of 16.2 points per game in 34 games since the start of the 2009 season. That is the sixth-best scoring defense mark in the nation in that span.
*- Nebraska's 10.4 points per game allowed in 2009 were the fewest since the 1984 defense led the nation by allowing just 9.5 points per game. NU had not allowed fewer than 15 points per game since 2003.
*- Before the last two seasons, Nebraska had not ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense in consecutive seasons since 1995 and 1996.
*-Nebraska held 13 of 14 opponents to 20 or fewer points in 2009. To put that accomplishment in perspective, NU held just six opponents to fewer than 20 points in 2007 and 2008 combined. Nebraska held 10 of 14 teams to 20 or fewer points in 2010, and only one opponent scored more than 24 points in regulation play.
*-Only 16 Nebraska opponents have scored as many as 17 points since the start of the 2009 season (34 games). In that stretch, Nebraska has allowed 10 or fewer points in 13 games.
Maher Leading Impressive Nebraska Special Teams Unit
When you must replace the most accurate place-kicker in NCAA history there is obviously going to be some concern. However, junior place-kicker/punter Brett Maher has quickly put most of those concerns to rest with a near-perfect effort in the first half of the season. Maher replaced Alex Henery, Nebraska's starting place-kicker from 2007 to 2010, and starting punter the past two seasons. Henery is now with the Philadelphia Eagles.
A native of Kearney, Neb., Maher was a perfect 4-of-4 on field goals in the opener, including a 50-yarder into a strong wind on his first career attempt. He added field goals of 48, 34 and 21 yards later in the game and his four field goals tied for the third-most in school history and also tied the record for most field goals in a season opener. Maher added a 3-of-3 field-goal performance in the win over Washington. He narrowly missed a 50-yarder at Wyoming, and also missed a 50-yarder at Wisconsin, but came back with a pair of field goals, including a 50-yarder against Ohio State. Maher is now 11-of-13 on the season. Maher is also perfect on 27 extra-point tries. Maher is tied for sixth nationally in field goals per game at 1.8 per contest and his 10.0 points per game places him 13th nationally.
Maher has been even more impressive in the punting department. He showed his strong leg in the opener, averaging 52.0 yards on his four punts, including downing two inside the Chattanooga 20-yard line. The 52.0-yard per punt average was the best by a Nebraska punter since the 2005 season. Against Fresno State, Maher averaged 50.8 yards on five punts, and again downed a pair of punts inside the 20.
Maher was the first Nebraska punter to average 50.0 yards per punt in consecutive games since Sam Koch accomplished the feat in the final two games of the 2005 season. Maher added a third 50.0-yard average, booming three punts for a 53.0-yard average at Wyoming. Maher's punting average of 47.3 yards per boot tops the Big Ten and is second nationally. He has downed nine punts inside the opponent 20 and has 10 50-plus-yard punts.
Maher was rewarded for his effort against Chattanooga by being named co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. He captured the honor for a second time with his solid all-around effort against Ohio State.
The Huskers have captured the Big Ten special teams honor three times overall. Freshman Ameer Abdullah received the weekly honor for his explosive return effort against Fresno State. Abdullah had five kickoff returns for a school-record 211 yards against the Bulldogs, including a 100-yard return for a touchdown. His 187 kickoff return yards at Wisconsin were the second-highest total in school history. Nebraska ranks second in the nation in kickoff returns at 28.8 yards per return, and Abdullah is third individually at 31.9 yards per attempt. The Huskers also rank 31st nationally in punt returns and 17th in net punting.
Avoiding Yellow and Turnovers
Throughout the offseason, the coaching staff preached the importance of having fewer penalties and turnovers in 2011. Last season, NU set school records for most penalties and penalty yards and also led the nation in fumbles. Nebraska was much improved in the penalty area in the non-conference portion of its schedule, but had a setback at Wisconsin. The Huskers continue to strive for cleaning up their turnover issues.
*-Nebraska had just three penalties against both Chattanooga and Fresno State to open the season, but was whistled for a season-high nine penalties at Wisconsin. Nebraska ranks 41st nationally in fewest penalties per game at 5.5 per contest, and has been penalized a total of 296 yards in six games. In 2010, Nebraska had at least six penalties in 13 of 14 games and tallied at least 45 yards in penalties in all but one game. NU's season low last season was three penalties for 15 yards against Oklahoma, and Nebraska had a season-high of 16 penalties for 145 yards at Texas A&M.
*-Nebraska has committed 10 turnovers in the first six games, and is minus-1 in turnover margin.
Television: ABC/ESPN 2 (Carter Blackburn, Play-by-Play; Brock Huard, Analyst)
Radio: Husker Sports Network (Greg Sharpe, Play-by-Play; Matt Davison, Color; Lane Grindle, Sidelines)
Huskers.com: HSN free audio, Live stats, game-day information, photos
Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 117 (Minnesota)
TCF Bank Stadium
Series Record: Minnesota leads, 28-21-2
In Minneapolis: Minnesota leads, 20-11-2
Last Meeting: Nebraska 56-0, 1990 in Lincoln
Record: 5-1, 1-1
Rankings: Coaches-11; AP-13
Last Game: def. Ohio State, 34-27
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 35-13/4th year
vs. Minn.: first meeting
Record: 1-5, 0-2
Rankings: Not ranked
Last Game: lost at Purdue, 45-17
Coach: Jerry Kill
Career/UM Record: 128-78 (18th year)/1-5/1st year
vs. NU: first meeting