Nebraska closes the 2008 regular season with its traditional post-Thanksgiving Friday matchup against Big 12 North rival Colorado. The Huskers enter the game with a 7-4 overall record and a 4-3 mark in conference action after an impressive 56-28 victory at Kansas State on Nov. 15.
Nebraska has won four of its past five games since a 3-3 start and will be looking for its best six-game finish to a season since posting a 5-1 finish in 2001. Nebraska has secured its 38th bowl trip in 40 seasons and its 44th winning campaign in the past 47 years. Colorado enters the game with a 5-6 overall record and 2-5 mark in Big 12 play . CU needs a victory to qualify for a bowl game. The Buffs were defeated 30-17 by Oklahoma State in their last outing.
Nebraska owns a 46-18-2 edge in the all-time series with Colorado, including a 24-8 advantage in Lincoln. Colorado ended a two-game Husker winning streak last year in Boulder and gained a 4-3 edge in the series since 2001. The current stretch was preceded by a nine-game NU winning streak from 1992 to 2000.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns an 8-4 record in his first season with the Huskers. In addition to seven 2008 wins, Pelini led Nebraska to a victory as interim head coach in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. Pelini has served as defensive coordinator at NU, Oklahoma and most recently LSU over the past five seasons. Previously, he had stints as an NFL assistant with San Francisco, New England and Green Bay.
Colorado: Dan Hawkins (UC-Davis, ‘84) is in his third season as Colorado’s head coach and owns a 13-23 record with the Buffs. Hawkins is 66-34 overall in his eighth year as a Division I head coach after previously guiding Boise State to a 53-11 record in five seasons. Hawkins is 1-1 in two meetings with Nebraska.
Stat of the Week
Over the past two games, 23 of the Huskers’ 29 drives have crossed midfield, with 14 of those drives ending in points. NU marched into Kansas territory on 12 of its 15 drives, before crossing midfield into KSU’s side of the field on 11 of 14 drives.
Nebraska has run an impressive percentage of plays in opponent territory the past two games. Against KU and KSU 101 of NU’s 151 offensive snaps were in opponent territory, a rate of 67 percent. The Huskers ran 49 of their 73 plays in Kansas territory, before running 52 of their 78 plays past the 50-yard line at KSU.
Nebraska, Buffaloes Continue Post-Thanksgiving Tradition
Nebraska will play on the Friday after Thanksgiving for the 19th straight year. The Huskers have met Colorado for post-Turkey Day festivities each of the last 13 years (since the formation of the Big 12). Before 1996, Nebraska and Oklahoma met for six consecutive years on the day after Thanksgiving.
Since 1990, Nebraska has a 14-5 mark on post-Thanksgiving Friday, losing to Oklahoma in 1990 and Colorado in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2007. The Huskers are 7-2 in that same stretch in Lincoln on the Friday after Thanksgiving, losing only to Colorado in 2002 and 2004. Before 1990, Nebraska and Oklahoma also met on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1973, 1976, 1977 and 1982. Nebraska is 15-8 all-time on the day after Thanksgiving. Nebraska and Oklahoma also squared off on Thanksgiving Day five times between 1965 and 1972.
Huskers, Colorado Have History of Battling for Bowl Eligibility
Colorado will attempt to become bowl-eligible with a victory in Friday’s matchup with Nebraska. The Buffs come into the game at 5-6 and are hopeful of becoming the eighth Big 12 team to qualify for a bowl game.
Bowl eligiblity being on the line is nothing new for the Nebraska-Colorado game. A year ago, both teams entered the game 5-6 overall and CU’s victory sent the Buffs to the Independence Bowl and kept the Huskers out of a bowl game. The only other time Nebraska has missed a bowl game since 1969 came in 2004, when Colorado posted a win in Lincoln to give NU a 5-6 record.
Nebraska has dealt Colorado a similar fate twice in recent years, winning in Boulder in 1997 and 2003 to keep the Buffs home for the holidays.
Senior Class to Play Final Home Game Against Colorado
Nebraska will honor its senior class in pre-game festivities before the start of the Colorado game. The Huskers will have 21 seniors appearing in their final game at Memorial Stadium. Among the group, 12 players are in their fifth year in the program (Davis, Ganz, Huff, Lawson, Murtha, Peterson, Sievers, Steinkuhler, Swift, Titchener, Wesch, Wortman), four others have completed their eligibility without redshirting (Lucky, Potter, Slauson, Teafatiller) and five others have joined the program as transfers (Barfield, Baumgartner, Murillo, O’Leary, K. Wilson).
The class includes 12 players who began their Nebraska career as a scholarship player and nine who were walk-ons at the start of their career. Of the nine seniors who began as walk-ons, five have been placed on scholarship during their NU career (O’Leary, Peterson, Slauson, Teafatiller, Titchener).
The class includes Nebraska’s all-time leading receiver (Swift), its No. 5 receiver (Peterson), the No. 4 player in all-purpose yards (Lucky) and No. 4 all-time passer (Ganz).
The 21 seniors hail from nine different states.
The 21 members of the senior class have combined for 309 career starts, including nine with 20 or more career starts.
Among the 21 seniors being honored, 19 will earn their degrees by May of 2009.
Huskers Look to Cap Impressive Second-Half Run
Nebraska is 4-1 in its past five games after a 3-3 start to open the 2008 campaign. Nebraska’s only loss in that stretch was on the road against No. 4 Oklahoma. In fact, since Oct. 1, Nebraska has lost only to teams that are ranked in the top 12 of the most recent Associated Press Poll.
A victory over Colorado this weekend would give Nebraska a 5-1 record in the second half of the season, a four-game improvement over last year’s 1-5 mark. It would also be NU’s best six-game finish to a regular season since 2001, when NU was also 5-1.
NU’s Record in Final Six Regular Season Games: