Huskers Open 2011 Season vs. Chattanooga
Game 1: Nebraska vs. Chattanooga
Sept. 3, 2011 | Memorial Stadium | Lincoln, Neb. | 2:30 p.m.
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Capacity: 81,091 (312th Consecutive Sellout)
Series Record: First meeting
Special Events: 1971 National Championship Reunion
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Nebraska takes to the field for its 122nd season of college football on Saturday afternoon when the Huskers take on Chattanooga at Memorial Stadium. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools and game time is set for 2:30 p.m. The contest will also mark Nebraska's debut as a member of the Big Ten Conference, and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
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The Huskers again enter the season with high expectations after winning the Big 12 North crown in their final seasons in the conference. Nebraska also enters the 2011 campaign coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 2002. Nebraska enters the season ranked 10th in the preseason Associated Press Poll and No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches poll. It marks the second straight season Nebraska has opened the year in the top 10 of the AP poll, the first time NU has opened in the top 10 in back-to-back years since 2001 and 2002.
Chattanooga is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision and is coming off a 6-5 season in 2010. The Mocs are coming off back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1990 and 1991. Chattanooga has a history of taking on national powers to open the season, squaring off against Auburn, Alabama and Oklahoma in its past three season openers.
Saturday's meeting will be the first between the two schools. The game is the first for Nebraska against a team from the state of Tennessee since defeating the University of Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl following the 1999 season.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, '90) owns a 30-12 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 Big 12 divisional crown his first three seasons as head coach.
Chattanooga: Russ Huesman (Chattanooga, '83) owns a 12-10 record in his third season at Chattanooga and as a head coach. He has led the Mocs to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years, as UTC won only six combined games in the three seasons before his arrival. The 2009 Southern Conference Coach of the Year, Huesman led Chattanooga to five conference wins last season, its highest total since 1985.
Nebraska is 837-345-40 all-time, one of just eight schools with 800 all-time victories w Nebraska has won five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997). * The Cornhuskers have won 43 conference championships. * Nebraska's 47 all-time bowl appearances rank fifth nationally. * Since 1970, Nebraska has 403 wins, 24 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.
Nebraska Looks to Add to Season-Opening Win Streak
Nebraska enters the season opener with victories in each of its past 25 season openers. The Huskers' streak leads the nation, bettering Florida's 21 straight wins. NU's last loss in a season opener was a 17-13 setback against Florida State at Memorial Stadium in 1985.
*-Nebraska has won each of the 25 games by at least 10 points, and has scored at least 40 points in 18 of the 25 games, including 47 or more each of the the last five seasons. Nebraska has outscored the opposition 145-37 in three openers under Bo Pelini.
*-The Cornhuskers have limited the opponent to 14 points or less 17 times in the winning streak.
*-Nebraska is 90-26-5 all-time in season openers.
Tennessee at Chattanooga is opening its 104th season of play this afternoon. The Mocs are coming off a second straight 6-5 campaign in 2010, posting back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years. UTC is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) and the Southern Conference.
The Mocs return a total of 38 lettermen from last season, including 16 starters. Chattanooga brings back eight starters on defense, five on offense and three specialists. Among the returning starters are All-America wide receiver Joel Bradford and all-conference selections B.J. Coleman (quarterback), Ryan Consiglio (linebacker) and Kadeem Wise (defensive back).
The eight returning starters hope to shore up a Chattanooga defense that ranked 80th in the FCS last season in total defense and 95th in scoring defense. The Mocs return four of their top five tacklers, but must replace the production of Chris Donald, who led the team in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (12.5) as a senior in 2010.
Offensively, the Mocs put up impressive totals last season, averaging 430.0 yards per game to rank 11th in the FCS. Chattanooga also ranked eighth in passing (277.2 yards per game) and 17th in scoring (31.6). UTC must replace its top two rushers from last season and three of its top five receivers. But the combination of Coleman, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards last season, and Bradford, who caught 81 passes and averaged more than 116 receiving yards per game, should provide a boost for the Mocs as younger players gain experience.
In the special teams department, Chattanooga returns its punter and both kickers from last season. Bradford is also back as the Mocs' top return threat.
Nebraska and Chattanooga are meeting for the first time this season. The Mocs are one of two 2011 opponents the Huskers have not previously faced, along with Fresno State. Chattanooga is also one of three opponents making their first trips to Memorial Stadium this season, joining Fresno State and Ohio State. Today's game marks the first time Nebraska has played a current member of the Southern Conference and will be the Huskers' second game against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent since 2006. (South Dakota State, 2010)
Chattanooga Head Coach Russ Huesman
Russ Huesman is entering his third season as head coach at his alma mater. A 1983 Chattanooga graduate, Huesman owns a 12-10 record with the Mocs in his first head coaching job. Huesman has led UTC to back-to-back 6-5 seasons after Chattanooga won only six total games in the three seasons before his arrival. Overall, he has led the Mocs to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years.
In his first season in 2009, Huesman was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year after helping the Mocs to a 6-5 season, one year after going 1-11. While finishing 6-5 again in 2010, Chattanooga won five games in league play, its highest total since 1985.
Before returning to his alma mater, Huesman spent five seasons as the defensive coordinator at Richmond. The Spiders ranked in the top 15 in total defense in each of Huesman's last three seasons. In his final game at Richmond, Huesman's defense held Montana to seven points in a 24-7 Spider victory in the 1997 FCS National Championship Game.
Huesman spent six years as a full-time assistant in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks at Memphis from 1998 to 2003. He moved to Memphis after 14 seasons at William & Mary, including serving his final two seasons as the Tribe's defensive coordinator. After spending one season as a student assistant coach at Chattanooga following his senior season, Huesman got his first coaching job as a graduate assistant at South Carolina for the 1983 and 1984 seasons.
Nebraska Seeks Third Straight 10-Win Season
Nebraska has posted 10 wins in each of the past two seasons, giving the Huskers back-to-back double-digit victory seasons for the first time since 2000 (10-2) and 2001 (11-2). A third straight season with 10 or more victories in 2011 would mark the first time the Huskers have accomplished that since a three-year span from 1999 to 2001.
Nebraska is one of just nine schools in the nation with back-to-back 10 win seasons, including Wisconsin and Ohio State of the Big Ten, Alabama (SEC), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oregon and Utah (Pac-12) and TCU and Boise State (Mountain West).
*- The 2010 season marked the first time Nebraska posted 10 wins in the regular season since the 2001 team won 11 regular-season games.
*- Bo Pelini joined Frank Solich as the only Nebraska coaches to post two 10-win seasons in their first three years in Lincoln.
*-The 2010 season was Nebraska's 25th all-time 10-win season in school history, including 23 since 1970.
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 2010.
*-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 is one 10 schools to secure nine wins or more in each of the past three seasons, joining TCU, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Utah and West Virginia. Nebraska has 45 nine-win seasons in school history.
Nebraska joins a list of traditional powers that have squared off against Chattanooga since 2008. In fact, playing the Mocs appears to have been something of a good luck charm the past three seasons.
Chattanooga squared off against Oklahoma in the 2008 season opener in Norman, traveled to Alabama during the 2009 season and played at Auburn in 2010. Each of those schools went on to play in the BCS National Championship Game in that season, with both Alabama and Auburn capturing the national title in those respective seasons.
In those three games, the Mocs also squared off against a player that went on to win the Heisman Trophy at season's end. The group includes Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (2008), Alabama's Mark Ingram (2009) and Cam Newton of Auburn (2010).
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his fourth season as Nebraska's head coach and owns a 30-12 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 conference 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 30-12 record, (29-12 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. 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 29 wins, two more than Navy's Ken Niumatalolo. (see page 7)
*-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 108 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 72 times.
*-Pelini-led defenses have 215 total takeaways, including two top-three national rankings.
Four New Assistants Set to Coach First Husker Game
After having the same coaching staff for each of his first three seasons at Nebraska, Bo Pelini welcomes 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 Starts Inaugural Season in Big Ten Conference
Nebraska officially became the 12th member of the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2011, and is set for its first season of football competition in the nation's oldest conference. Nebraska will compete in the Legends Division in football, and enters the conference with a goal of reaching the first Big Ten Football Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Dec. 3.
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 31-6 record against Big Ten opponents since 1970. The Huskers have won seven 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 29-20-2 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.
*-Nebraska has faced the remaining six Big Ten foes on the 2011 schedule a total of 35 times, led by 13 meetings with Penn State.
Legends and Leaders
The Big Ten Conference has 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 will compete 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 set to face arguably one of the nation's most difficult schedules in 2011 and one of the most demanding slates in school history. In addition to a competitive non-conference schedule, the Huskers will face an extremely challenging schedule in their first season of competition in the Big Ten Conference.
The 2011 schedule features 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.
» Nebraska's meeting with Washington will be its third against the Huskies in a period of 12 months. Nebraska last faced an opponent that frequently in a short period of time in 1998 and 1999 when Nebraska met Texas three times in 13 months, including the 1999 Big 12 Championship Game. Nebraska and Oklahoma met three times in a 12-month span in 1978 and 1979, including an Orange Bowl matchup on Jan. 1, 1979.
» In the Big Ten's divisional setup, Nebraska will not face Purdue, Illinois and Indiana in 2011 and 2012. Nebraska's permanent cross-over opponent from the Leaders Division will be Penn State.
» Nebraska's regular-season finale against Iowa has been moved for Friday, Nov. 25, continuing Nebraska's tradition of playing on the day after Thanksgiving.
Huskers Among Nation's Top Returning Talent
Nebraska features several players who rank among the nation's top returning talent in 2011. Senior defensive tackle Jared Crick, senior linebacker Lavonte David and senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard have all been selected as preseason All-Americans by at least one media outlet this fall. 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 boasts the returning production of several players who rank among the nation's best.
*-Jared Crick enters his final season with 19.0 career sacks and 32 career tackles-for-loss. His 19.0 sacks rank third nationally among active players and are tops among interior defensive linemen. Crick's 32 TFLs also lead all interior defensive linemen nationally.
*-Lavonte David set a school record with 152 tackles in his first year as a Husker in 2010. David's career average of 10.9 tackles per game ranks third nationally among all returning players.
*-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 and junior I-back Rex Burkhead combined to rush for 1,916 yards last season. That total ranks Martinez and Burkhead as the third-highest returning quarterback-running back rushing tandem in the country.
Youth May be Served on Nebraska Offensive Line
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 could change in 2011, with a true freshman, redshirt freshman and at least a pair of sophomores seeing significant time with the upper units during fall camp.
True freshman Tyler Moore could possibly earn a start this Saturday against Chattanooga. That would be a first in Husker history.
*-Moore, who enrolled in January, would become 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). Redshirt freshman Jake Cotton is also a candidate to join this short list.
*-Moore would also become 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 would be 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 (9)
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 (5)
Andrew Rodriguez (2010), Tonui Fonoti (1999), John Garrison (1999), Will Shields (1989), Jake Young (1986)
True Freshmen Offensive Linemen to Start a Game (3)
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 (3-All RFr.)
Jeremiah Sirles (RFr., 2010), Marcel Jones (RFr., 2008), Richie Incognito (RFr., 2002)
Points at a Premium Against Blackshirts
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. In 2010, Nebraska again ranked in the top 10 nationally, holding opponents to 17.4 points per game to rank ninth.
The scoring defense numbers put together the past two seasons stack up well historically. In 28 games the past two seasons, NU has allowed an average of 13.89 points per game, fourth-best 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 12 Nebraska opponents have scored as many as 17 points since the start of the 2009 season (28 games). In the past two seasons, Nebraska has allowed 10 or fewer points in 12 games.
Defense Aims to Remain Tough at Home
Nebraska will also be looking to continue its defensive dominance inside Memorial Stadium in 2011. Since the start of the 2009 season, the Huskers have allowed only 145 points in 14 homes games, an average of just 10.4 points per game. The Blackshirts have allowed only 14 touchdowns in their last 14 home games, while holding nine opponents to 10 points or less and six to a field goal or less.
Nebraska's home defense has been exceptionally good in its home opener and against non-conference competition in general. The Huskers have held the opponent to 10 points or less in the home opener in five of the last six seasons and eight times since 2000. Extending the dominance to the entire non-conference portion of the schedule, NU has allowed an average of 7.0 points per home game against non-conference opponents over the past two seasons. The Huskers have surrendered only 42 points in six games, allowing only three touchdowns.
No Passing Zone
Nebraska's defense has consistently been among the nation's best under Bo and Carl Pelini. That effort has been led by the Blackshirts' remarkable pass defense. Nebraska had a dominant secondary in 2010, marking the second straight season NU ranked among the nation's top pass defenses.
Nebraska finished third nationally in pass efficiency defense (96.29 rating) and fifth in passing yards allowed (153.6 ypg) in 2010. Nebraska allowed opposing passers to complete just 48.7 percent of passing attempts, a mark that ranked second nationally.
The pass defense effort came a year after Nebraska led the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2009. Over the past two seasons, Nebraska has allowed 20 touchdown passes, while picking off 39 opponent passes. NU allowed just seven passing touchdowns in 2009 and 13 in 2010.
The Huskers have a 91.25 pass efficiency defensive rating over the past two seasons, best in the nation. In 28 games in 2009 and 2010, NU allowed just 166.3 passing yards per game, fifth-best in the nation.
Other notable accomplishments for Nebraska's pass defense include:
*-Nebraska opponents have completed less than 50 percent of their passes each of the past two seasons. Ten of 14 opponents in 2009 completed 50 percent or less of their pass attempts, and five opponents had less than 150 yards passing. In 2010, seven opponents threw for 135 yards or less, and NU also held seven opponents below a 50 percent completion rate.
*-Nebraska had 19 interceptions in 2010 to tie for 11th in the country. In 2009, Nebraska tied for seventh in the nation with 20 interceptions.
*-Nebraska's average of 153.6 yards per game allowed through the air in 2010 was its best pass defense average since allowing 131.0 yards per game in 1990.
*-The Blackshirts allowed 15 passing yards against Kansas in 2010, the fewest since allowing zero completions against Nicholls State in 2006. It was just the eighth time since 1990 that NU held an opponent to 50 or fewer passing yards. Kansas did not complete a pass after the first quarter (0-of-9).
Crick Poised for Dominant Senior Season
Defensive tackle Jared Crick has been a fixture on Nebraska's defensive line and in opponent backfields each of the past two seasons. The 6-6, 285-pound Crick has earned first-team all-conference honors each of the past two seasons, and is likely to be a strong candidate for numerous national honors this fall.
In addition to his All-Big 12 award in 2010, Crick was also a first-team All-America choice by Rivals.com, while earning second-team honors from the Associated Press and CBSSports.com. Crick was one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, and he was a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Crick enters 2011 in position to cement his place as one of the top defenders in Nebraska history. He has been a first-team All-American by nearly every preseason outlet and is among the favorites for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
*-Crick has the opportunity to become Nebraska's first three-time, first-team all-conference selection since cornerback Ralph Brown achieved the rare honor in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Just 21 players in school history have been three-time all-conference picks, including only five since 1990.
*-Crick made 70 tackles last season to rank third on the team and first among linemen. He led all Big 12 defensive linemen with 5.0 tackles per game.
*-Crick had a team-high 9.5 sacks, including three games with two or more sacks. His 2010 sack total equaled his 2009 total, giving Crick 19 career sacks. His sack total ranks eighth in school history. He is five sacks from cracking the top five in NU history and 11.5 sacks from Trev Alberts' school record of 29.5 career sacks.
*-Crick led the team with 17 tackles for loss (91 yards) in his junior season. His 32 career tackles for loss are six shy of the top 10 on the career chart, and Crick is 12 tackles for loss from cracking the top five in school history.
*-In 2009, Crick pushed Ndamukong Suh for team statistical leads in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss. Crick finished with 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 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.
David Looks to Build on Record-Setting 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. In 2011, David figures to be 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 tops in the Big 12. His tackle total surpassed the previous school record of 149 tackles by Barrett Ruud in 2003. The 6-1, 220-pound David was also the first Blackshirt defender to record 100 tackles since Ruud in 2004.
*-David had a team season-high 19 tackles in the Huskers' victory over South Dakota State. His tackle total vs. SDSU was tied for the most in the Big 12 in 2010, 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 eight games with double-figure tackle totals in 2010, including three with at least 15 tackles. 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.
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). He was widely honored for his effort. 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.
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. David would need 96 tackles in his senior season to crack the top 10, and just 60 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).
Huskers Hope to Hit Ground Running
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 hope to feature another strong rushing attack in 2011. Nebraska returns a pair of runners who each topped 900 yards on the ground in 2010. I-back Rex Burkhead finished his sophomore season with 951 rushing yards, while quarterback Taylor Martinez netted 965 yards despite being injured for much of the second half of the year.
Nebraska is one of only three teams nationally with a pair of returning 900-yard rushers from last season (also Wisconsin and Pittsburgh). Not only is 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 marks only the third time in Husker history that Nebraska returns two 900-yard rushers from the previous season. The only other seasons where NU returned that production was in 1982 (Roger Craig and Mike Rozier) and 1992 (Derek Brown and Calvin Jones).
Burkhead and Martinez also rank 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. Pittsburgh (Dion Lewis - 1,061; Ray Graham - 922)
3. 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)
Burkhead, Martinez and graduated I-back Roy Helu Jr. led a 2010 rushing attack that put up numbers not seen at Nebraska in seven seasons.
*-Nebraska topped 200 rushing yards in 10 of 14 games in 2010. The Huskers were 10-0 when rushing for 200 yards.
*-Nebraska had back-to-back 300-yard rushing performances in games 2 and 3 (Idaho, Washington), marking the first time NU topped 300 rushing yards in consecutive games since late in 2002. NU had five straight 200-yard rushing games to start the season and six overall including the 2009 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 road wins at Washington and Kansas State, Nebraska rushed for more than 300 yards in consecutive 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 produced five of the top 10 team rushing efforts since 2004 last season, including the first, third and fifth-best rushing efforts in that stretch.
*-Helu Jr. became the first NU player to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons since Calvin Jones in 1992 and 1993. Helu Jr. finished his career fourth on the NU career rushing list.
*-Martinez's 965 rushing yards in 2010 were the second-best ever for a Nebraska freshman and fifth among single-season efforts by a Husker quarterback. Martinez set NU quarterback records for longest run and most rushing yards in a game.
*-Burkhead rushed for 951 yards, giving Nebraska three players with more than 950 rushing yards for the first time in school history.
*-Nebraska had three players crack the century mark in rushing yards in the first meeting with 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 had two players rush for 100 yards in the same game 68 times in school history.
» Nebraska had 12 100-yard rushing games in 2010 after having just 16 combined 100-yard games the previous three seasons (2007-09). 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.
*-Helu Jr. set a Nebraska school record with 307 rushing yards in Nebraska's win over Missouri. His rushing yardage marked the third-highest total in Football Bowl Subdivision in 2010.
*-Nebraska averaged 5.47 yards-per-carry, seventh-best in the country.
*-Nebraska rushed for 3,466 yards in 14 games in 2010, over 1,400 yards more than in 14 games in 2009. It marked the first time NU rushed for 2,500 yards in a season since 2003.
Four Walk-ons Placed on Scholarship
Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini announced during fall camp that four Huskers had been placed on scholarship after originally joining the team as walk-ons. The group included senior I-back Austin Jones, senior fullback Tyler Legate, senior defensive back Lance Thorell and junior long snapper P.J. Mangieri.
Pelini has made the walk-on program a huge priority since taking over the Nebraska program. In his first four recruiting classes, Nebraska has welcomed more than 80 walk-on players into the Nebraska program. In his first four seasons, Pelini has placed 14 players on scholarship prior to the start of the season.
A senior from Aurora, Colo., Jones has played in 10 games as a reserve I-back the past two seasons and compiled 76 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 career carries.
Legate joined the Nebraska program in 2008 after one season at South Dakota. Legate has played in 27 games the past two seasons, including 10 starts at fullback. He has four career receptions, including a pair of touchdown grabs. Legate was Nebraska's 2009 walk-on MVP and was a first-team academic All-Big 12 pick in 2010.
A native of Loomis, Neb., Thorell has been a fixture in the Nebraska secondary for the past three seasons. Thorell has played in 39 games, including six career starts, and has often being used in a nickel or dime role. Thorell has recorded 38 career tackles and two pass breakups. He is a three-time academic All-Big 12 pick and a three-year member of the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team.
Mangieri joined the Nebraska program as a walk-on from Peoria, Ill., in 2009 and has started every game the past two seasons as Nebraska's long snapper. His work helped former NU place-kicker Alex Henery shatter numerous school records the past two seasons.
NCAA Record Sellout Streak Continues
One of the most remarkable streaks in collegiate sports continues into the 2011 season. Nebraska has sold out every game at Memorial Stadium since November of 1962, and the streak stands at 311 games. With seven home games in 2011, the streak is likely to reach 318 by season's end. Nebraska celebrated the 300th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 26, 2009 against Louisiana-Lafayette, with a stadium record crowd of 86,304. Notre Dame is second in all-time consecutive sellouts with 220, 91 fewer than Nebraska.
Memorial Stadium Provides Huskers with Huge Home-Field Edge
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 25 seasons. Nebraska is 135-19 at home in the last 22 seasons (since 1989). Nebraska finished 6-1 at home in 2010, 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. Nebraska 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, 2010. 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.
Huskers Open 2011 Season in Associated Press Top 10
Nebraska opens the 2011 season ranked 10th according to the Associated Press, while the Huskers check in at No. 11 in the preseason coaches poll. A year ago, Nebraska began the year ranked eighth in the preseason Associated Press poll.
This marks the first time NU has opened in the top 10 in back-to-back years since 2001 and 2002. In fact, Nebraska opened in the top 10 each year from 1993 to 2002, and was also in the preseason top 10 each season from 1978 to 1990.
Last season, Nebraska ranked as high as fifth in the Associated Press poll, the Huskers highest ranking in the AP poll at any time since ranking fourth entering the 2002 Rose Bowl contest against Miami.