Taylor Martinez and the Huskers welcome Michigan for a Legends Division showdown
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers and Wolverines Meet in Primetime at 7 p.m.

By NU Athletic Communications

LINCOLN, NEB. | 7 p.m. (CT)

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Record: 5-2, 2-1 Big Ten
Rankings: Coaches-NR; AP-NR
Last Game: def. Northwestern, 29-28
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 44-18/5th year 
vs. Michigan: 0-1

Record: 5-2, 3-0 Big Ten
Rankings: Coaches-20; AP-20
Last Game: def. Michigan State, 12-10
Coach: Brady Hoke
Career/UM Record: 63-54/10th year | 16-4/2nd year
vs. Nebraska: 1-0

The Matchup
Two of the most storied programs in college football history will meet in a key Big Ten Legends Division showdown, as Nebraska plays host to Michigan Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2, with kickoff set for shortly after 7 p.m. CT.

The meeting is the second between the two schools as members of the Big Ten Conference and just the second meeting all-time between the two schools in Lincoln. In fact, the Wolverines will be making their first-ever appearance at Memorial Stadium as the only other meeting in Lincoln occurred 101 years ago in 1911.

Nebraska comes into the contest at 5-2, including a 2-1 mark in Big Ten play, following a dramatic, 29-28 comeback win at Northwestern on Saturday. Nebraska trailed by 12 points in the fourth quarter before rallying with two late touchdown drives to tie the largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history.

Michigan is currently atop the Legends Division standings at 3-0 in the Big Ten and 5-2 overall, with its only losses against a pair of top-five teams in Alabama and Notre Dame. Like Nebraska, Michigan comes into the game after a dramatic win, using a field goal in the final seconds to defeat Michigan State, 12-10, on Saturday in Ann Arbor. Michigan has been particularly impressive on defense in Big Ten play, allowing just 7.7 points per game. The recent surge has put Michigan back in the national rankings at No. 20 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls.

In addition to adding another great matchup to the history of Memorial Stadium, Saturday’s game will also serve as a celebration of 50 years of consecutive sellouts at Memorial Stadium. The Huskers’ sellout streak, which will reach 323 games on Saturday night, began on Nov. 3, 1962 against Missouri.

The Series
Saturday’s game is the eighth meeting between the two schools, with Michigan holding a 4-2-1 overall edge in the series.  At least one of the teams has been nationally ranked in each of the past four matchups, including this week’s game.

The Coaches
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 44-18 record (.710) in his fifth season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first four seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat. Pelini is one of only six first-time head coaches in NCAA history to win at least nine games in each of his first four seasons at a BCS conference school.

Brady Hoke (Ball State, ‘82) is in his second season as the head coach at Michigan and his 10th season overall as a collegiate head coach. Hoke has guided the Wolverines to a 16-4 record in two seasons, including an 11-2 mark and a Sugar Bowl victory last season. Hoke previously served as the head coach at Ball State and San Diego State before taking over in Ann Arbor.

Scouting Michigan:
Michigan enters Saturday’s game atop the Legends Division standings with a perfect 3-0 record in Big Ten Conference play. The Wolverines are 5-2 overall, with their only losses coming to No. 1 Alabama and fifth-ranked Notre Dame. Since the loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 22, Michigan has posted three straight impressive wins against Big Ten teams.

The Wolverines opened Big Ten play with a 44-13 road win at Purdue, followed by a 45-0 home win over Illinois. Last Saturday, Michigan snapped a four-game losing streak to  Michigan State with a 12-10 victory on a last-second field goal.

Michigan’s defense has been stout of late, allowing fewer than 14 points in each of its last five games. The Wolverines rank 10th nationally in total defense and 16th in scoring defense. Michigan is fourth nationally against the pass and 49th against the run.

Offensively, the Wolverines rely heavily on a ground attack that averages more than 220 rushing yards per game, good for 18th nationally. Dynamic quarterback Denard Robinson makes the Michigan offense go, accounting for 309 of Michigan’s 405 yards of total offense per game. Robinson leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh nationally in rushing this season by averaging 128.6 yards per contest. In his career, Robinson has rushed for 4,129 yards, 351 shy of the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Robinson has also passed for 6,195 career yards, as he is one of only three quarterbacks in NCAA history to rush for 4,000 yards and throw for 6,000 yards.

Behind Robinson, Michigan is averaging 30.7 points per game. The Wolverines have turned the ball over 14 times in seven games this season, 11 times in their two losses, but only three times in their five victories.

Series History
Michigan leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 4-2-1. The 17th-ranked Wolverines won the first conference matchup between the schools, defeating the 20th-ranked Huskers 45-17 in Ann Arbor last season. Michigan is making only its second trip to Lincoln and its first visit to Memorial Stadium. The Wolverines’ only previous trip to Lincoln came on Nov. 25, 1911, when the teams played to a 6-6 tie in front of the then-largest crowd at Nebraska Field in the first Homecoming game in school history. The teams have met twice in bowl games, with No. 5 Michigan defeating No. 7 Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, and the unranked Huskers upsetting the 20th-ranked Wolverines, 32-28, in the 2005 Alamo Bowl in the largest bowl game comeback in Nebraska history.

Saturday’s game also marks just the second game in NCAA history that a pair of programs with 850 all-time wins will meet and the first time in conference play.

Michigan Coach Brady Hoke
Brady Hoke is in his second season at Michigan, where he has guided the Wolverines to a 16-4 record. Last season, Hoke was named Big Ten Coach of the Year and the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year after joining Fielding Yost as the only Michigan head coaches to win 10 games in their first season. Hoke has the Wolverines tied atop the Legends Division entering Saturday’s game, one year after he guided Michigan to a Sugar Bowl victory. Overall, Hoke owns a 63-54 career record.

Before taking the Michigan job, Hoke spent two seasons at San Diego State in 2009 and 2010 after coaching Ball State, his alma mater, for six seasons from 2003 to 2008. Overall, Hoke is in his 30th season as a collegiate head coach. He was an assistant coach at Michigan from 1995 to 2002 in his final stint as an assistant coach. Previously, Hoke was an assistant at Grand Valley State (1983), Western Michigan (1984-86), Toledo (1987-88) and Oregon State (1989-94).

Hoke is 1-0 against Nebraska at Michigan and 1-1 vs. the Huskers in his head coaching career. In 2007, Hoke’s Ball State team nearly upset No. 24 Nebraska before falling 41-40. The Cardinals led for most of the second half, only to see Nebraska score the game-winning touchdown with 3:13 remaining.

Four Straight Nine-Win Seasons
Nebraska finished 9-4 in 2011 to secure its fourth straight nine-win season under Head Coach Bo Pelini. The current streak of four straight nine-win seasons puts Nebraska in an elite class nationally.

- The four 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 of eight schools with nine wins or more each season from 2008 to 2011, joining TCU, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Alabama and West Virginia.

- Nebraska has 46 nine-win seasons in school history, including 39 since 1969.

Husker Players Fill National Award Watch Lists
Several Huskers earned preseason recognition entering the 2012 season. Highlighting the list of honorees are seniors Rex Burkhead and Brett Maher, who both earned preseason All-America honors from Athlon. Burkhead was a second-team running back selection, while Maher was a second-team kicker. Burkhead also earned second-team preseason All-America honors from Sports Illustrated.

Burkhead earned recognition as one of 50 players on the Walter Camp Award watch list and one of 65 players on the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award watch lists. The Walter Camp and Maxwell awards are presented annually to the nation’s player of the year, while the Doak Walker Award honors the nation’s top running back.

In addition to his preseason All-America recognition, Maher was named to the watch lists for the Ray Guy and Lou Groza awards. A native of Kearney, Neb., Maher was one of only two kickers nationally to be named to the watch list for both the Guy and Groza awards, which honor the nation’s top punter and place-kicker, respectively.

Other NU offensive players earning preseason recognition were sophomore Ameer Abdullah, juniors Spencer Long and Taylor Martinez and senior Kyler Reed. Abdullah was on the watch list for “The Jet” award, which recognizes the nation’s top returner and is named in honor of former Husker Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers. Abdullah also earned a spot on the Paul Hornung Award watch list, an award given to the most versatile player in college football. Long is being considered as one of the nation’s top linemen with his inclusions on the watch list for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award, while Martinez earned preseason recognition on a pair of watch lists for two of the top quarterback honors, the Manning and Davey O’Brien awards. Reed wrapped up the list of offensive honorees by earning his second straight selection to the Mackey Award watch list, awarded to the nation’s top tight end.

Defensive end Cameron Meredith earned a spot on the Ted Hendricks Award watch list for the second straight year, an award given to the nation’s best defensive end. Baker Steinkuhler earned a trio of preseason honors, including spots on the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists. He was also considered among the nation’s best overall defenders, as he was one of 42 national candidates for the Lott IMPACT Tophy.

Nebraska to Celebrate 50 Years of Sellouts
Saturday will be an historic night at Memorial Stadium, as the Nebraska Athletic Department celebrates 50 years of consecutive home sellouts. The sellout streak, which reaches 323 straight games against Michigan, began on Nov. 3, 1962. The actual 50-year anniversary of the streak is next Saturday, but the Huskers will be in East Lansing, Mich., taking on the Michigan State Spartans.

Season ticket holders will have an opportunity to pick up a free 50-year sellout commemorative poster from Huskers Authentic, while non-season ticket holders can also purchase the poster. During the game, video features celebrating the sellout streak will also be featured.

Nebraska owns a 279-43 record inside Memorial Stadium during the sellout streak.

Huskers, Wolverines Meet in Matchup of Historical Programs
Saturday’s game between Nebraska and Michigan pits two of the most storied programs in college football history, meeting for the first time in the 90 seasons of play at Memorial Stadium. The Wolverines are making just their second trip to Lincoln and their first-ever visit to Memorial Stadium. Michigan’s only previous trip to Lincoln came in 1911, when the teams played to a 6-6 tie in front of the then-largest crowd at Nebraska Field in the first Homecoming game in school history.

The matchup also marks only the second game in NCAA history between two programs with 850 all-time victories. Michigan is the national leader with 900 all-time wins, while Nebraska ranks fourth with 851 victories. The NU-Michigan game will mark the first conference game between 850-win schools in NCAA history, as the only other game to feature two programs with 850 victories was Notre Dame’s 13-6 victory over Michigan last month.

Dual Threat Quarterbacks on Display in NU-UM Matchup
The matchup between Nebraska and Michigan features two of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks in Husker junior Taylor Martinez and Wolverine senior Denard Robinson. Martinez and Robinson are two of only 18 quarterbacks in NCAA history to rush for 2,000 career yards and throw for 5,000 yards. For only the second time in NCAA history, a pair of quarterbacks in that exclusive club will face each other. The only previous game featuring two members of the 2,000-5,000 club came in 2005, when Vince Young’s Texas Longhorns defeated Brad Smith’s Missouri Tigers, 51-20.

Martinez enters the game with 2,242 career rushing yards and 5,335 career passing yards. He is just the seventh quarterback in NCAA history to join the 2,000-5,000 club prior to his senior season. With another season of eligibility remaining, Martinez also has a good chance to become just the seventh quarterback in NCAA history to rush for 3,000 career yards and throw for 6,000 yards. Robinson is already a member of that group, and he is also one of only three players in NCAA history to rush for 4,000 career yards and throw for 6,000 yards.

Click on the "Game Notes" link in the related links section at the top of this page for more notes on this weekend's game.


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