Huskers Host No. 14 Spartans on ABC/ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m.
Photo by Aaron Babcock/Hail Varsity

Huskers Host Spartans for Key Legends Division Game

By NU Athletic Communications

LINCOLN, NEB. | 2:30 p.m. (CT)


RADIO - Husker Sports Network
SATELLITE RADIO - Sirius Channel 92, XM 107

Record: 7-2, 4-1

Rankings: Coaches-RV; AP-RV; BCS-NR
Last Game: def. Michigan, 17-13
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 56-22/6th year 
vs. Michigan State: 3-0

Record: 8-1, 5-0
Rankings: Coaches-16; AP-14; BCS-16
Last Game: def. Michigan, 29-6
Coach: Mark Dantonio
Career/MSU Record: 77-46/10th year | 59-29/8th year
vs. NU: 0-2

The Matchup
Nebraska and Michigan State match up on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in a game that will play a major role in deciding the Big Ten Legends Division race. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m. with the game televised nationally on either ABC or ESPN2.

Nebraska enters the game at 7-2 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten Conference play after a dramatic 17-13 victory at Michigan last Saturday. The Huskers drove 75 yards in 14 plays in the fourth quarter for the game-winning score a ending Michigan’s 19-game home win streak. The victory was Nebraska’s seventh straight win in games decided by seven or fewer points.

Michigan State comes to Lincoln with an 8-1 overall record, including a perfect 5-0 mark in Big Ten action. MSU enters Saturday’s matchup ranked 14th in the AP poll, 16th by the coaches and 16th in the latest BCS Standings. The Spartans only setback this season was a 17-13 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 21.

MSU features the nation’s top defensive unit. The Spartans lead the country in total defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense, while ranking third in scoring defense.

The Spartans lead the Legends Division with a 5-0 record, with Nebraska a game behind at 4-1 in conference action.

The Series
Nebraska is a perfect 7-0 against Michigan State all-time, including 2-0 as members of the Big Ten Conference. Nebraska has won all four meetings in Lincoln, including a 24-3 victory over No. 9 Michigan State at Memorial Stadium in 2011.

The Coaches
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 56-22 record (.711) in his sixth season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first five seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne in accomplishing that feat at Nebraska. With Nebraska’s win over Wyoming in the season opener, Pelini became the fifth coach in NU history to win 50 games on the NU sideline, joining Dana Bible, Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich.

Michigan State:
Mark Dantonio (South Carolina, ‘79) is in his eighth season as the head coach at Michigan State and his 10th season overall as a collegiate head coach. Dantonio owns a 59-29 record as the Spartans’ head man and a 77-46 overall record. Dantonio has led the Spartans to a school-record six consecutive bowl games.

Nebraska Football
Nebraska is 863-355-40 all-time, one of just eight schools with 800 all-time victories 
- Nebraska has won five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).
- The Cornhuskers have won 43 conference championships.
- NU’s 49 all-time bowl appearances rank third nationally.
- Since 1970, NU has 429 wins, 26 more than any other school.
- Nebraska’s 106 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation.
- The Huskers have 110 All-Americans in school history.

Scouting Michigan
Led by one of the nation’s top defenses, Michigan State brings an 8-1 overall record and a perfect 5-0 Big Ten mark into Saturday’s game. The Spartans’ only loss this season was a four-point loss at Notre Dame.

Michigan State is allowing just 11.6 points per game this season, a total that ranks third nationally. The Spartans have allowed only nine points in their last three games and have given up more than 17 points only once in nine games. MSU allows the fewest rushing yards (43.4), total yards (210.2) and first downs (12.7) per game of any team in the country, while also boasting the nation’s top pass efficiency defense, the top third-down conversion percentage (26.3) and the third-best passing defense, allowing fewer than 167 yards per game. The Spartans have also scored five defensive touchdowns this fall.

In Big Ten play, Michigan State is allowing only 10.2 points per game and 31.6 rushing yards per game. Opponents are averaging just 1.2 yards per rush against MSU, and the Spartans held Michigan to minus-48 yards rushing in their last game. Michigan State has forced more turnovers in Big Ten play (eight) than touchdowns allowed (six).

With a strong defense, Michigan State’s offense hasn’t needed to do too much. The balanced Spartans average 279.2 yards per game, including 190.2 rushing yards and 188.8 passing yards. MSU is averaging nearly 30 points per game and the Spartan offense is among the national leaders in two important categories given Michigan State’s stout defense. MSU leads the nation with an average of 34:32 time of possession per game, limiting the opponent’s chance to score. The Spartans have also lost only 10 turnovers in nine games this season, a total that ranks 14th nationally.

Series History
Nebraska is a perfect 7-0 all-time against Michigan State, as the Spartans are the only winless Big Ten team against the Huskers. NU has won both of the meetings as conference foes, including a last-second, 28-24 come-from-behind victory at Michigan State last season. In the last meeting in Lincoln, No. 13 Nebraska handed the ninth-ranked Spartans their only Big Ten loss, 24-3. Michigan State entered that contest 6-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play.

The Huskers have held the Spartans without a touchdown in three of the seven alltime meetings. Michigan State has scored a pair of touchdowns only twice in the series, while the Spartans’ 24 points a year ago marked the first time they had scored more than 14 points in the seven all-time matchups. The last matchup prior to becoming conference foes was a memorable one as No. 22 Nebraska defeated the unranked Spartans, 17-3, in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. Bo Pelini served as Nebraska’s interim head coach for that game and picked up his first win as the Husker head coach.

Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is his sixth season as Nebraska’s head coach and owns a 56-22 record with the Huskers. Pelini added a Big Ten Legends Division title in 2012 to three straight Big 12 North Division crowns from 2008 to 2010, when Pelini was the the first coach in the history of the Big 12 to win at least a share of a division title in each of his first three years.

He has guided Nebraska to at least nine wins each of his first five seasons in Lincoln, and three 10-win seasons. With the win over Wyoming in the opener, Pelini reached 50 career wins at Nebraska, making him just the fifth Husker coach to reach that milestone, joining Tom Osborne, Bob Devaney, Frank Solich and Dana X. Bible.

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 as an assistant 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.

Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio
Mark Dantonio is in his eighth season on the MSU sideline, where he has guided the Spartans to a 59-29 record. Dantonio owns a 77-46 record in 10 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Dantonio is 0-2 against Nebraska as a head coach and 0-8 against the Huskers in his coaching career, including assistant coaching stints at Michigan State and Kansas.

MSU already owns more wins this season (8) than it won a year ago (7), and Dantonio has the Spartans poised for a third 10-win season in four years. In 2011, Michigan State won the Legends Division and finished with an 11-3 record and a victory in the Outback Bowl. In 2010, MSU was co-Big Ten champions while posting an 11-2 record. Overall, Dantonio has guided Michigan State to a winning record in six of his seven seasons.

Before arriving in East Lansing, Dantonio compiled an 18-17 record in three seasons at Cincinnati from 2004 to 2005. Prior to becoming a head coach, Dantonio was an assistant at Ohio State (2001-03), Michigan State (1995-2000), Kansas (1991-94), Youngstown State (1986-90) and Akron (1985).

Huskers to Host Academic All-American Reunion
Nebraska will honor one of its greatest traditions next weekend in Lincoln. The Huskers will hold a reunion of its Academic All-Americans in all sports, including recognition at halftime of Saturday afternoon’s game.

More than 100 of Nebraska’s 234 living CoSIDA Academic All-Americans are expected to be in Lincoln for next weekend’s festivites. The weekend will include a private reception on Friday evening, recognition at the volleyball match with Michigan State on Friday evening and Saturday’s events at Memorial Stadium.

Nebraska leads the nation in Academic All-Americans with 307 across all sports, including 102 in football alone, the most for any individual team in the country. The football program will look to add to that impressive total this season with three seniors–Jake Long, Spencer Long and C.J. Zimmerer–named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 7 team last week, earning each of them a spot on the national ballot.

Husker-MSU Game Key Matchup in Legends Division Race
Michigan State and Nebraska have represented the Legends Division in the first two Big Ten Championship Games, and the winner of Saturday’s matchup will have the inside track for the 2013 berth. 

The Spartans hold the lead in the division at 5-0 in conference play, including 2-0 in divisional contests. Nebraska sits a game behind Michigan State at 4-1 overall and 2-1 in divisional games. Minnesota also remains in the race at 4-2 in Big Ten play and 2-2 in Legends Division games.

A look at the remaining schedules for Legends Division contenders:
Michigan State (5-0): 11-16 at Nebraska; 11-23 at Northwestern; 11-30 vs. Minnesota
Nebraska (4-1): 11-16 vs. Michigan State; 11-23 at Penn State; 11-29 vs. Iowa
Minnesota (4-2): 11-16 idle; 11-23 vs. Wisconsin; 11-30 at Michigan State

Nebraska Looks to Knock Off Nationally Ranked Spartans
Nebraska has won four of its past five mathups against ranked teams at Memorial Stadium, winning at least one game against a ranked team each year from 2009 to 2012. Included in that list is a 24-3 victory by No. 13 Nebraska over ninth-ranked Michigan State in 2011. Nebraska is 0-1 against ranked teams in Lincoln this season, dropping a 41-21 decision to 16th-ranked UCLA on Sept. 14.

NU is 4-2 overall against ranked teams in Lincoln under Head Coach Bo Pelini, and NU has a 9-7 record against ranked opponents in Lincoln since 2000. Michigan State comes to Lincoln on Saturday ranked 14th by the Associated Press, 16th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 16 in the BCS standings.

Huskers Have String of Success at Home vs. Big Ten Opponents
Nebraska has won both of its Big Ten home games in 2013, knocking off Illinois and Northwestern at Memorial Stadium. The victory over Northwestern on Nov. 2 extended Nebraska’s home winning streak against Big Ten opponents to seven games, dating back to a 2011 home setback against the Wildcats.

Overall, Nebraska is 9-1 in Big Ten home games since joining the conference in 2011. The Huskers’ seven-game home conference win streak is its longest since winning 14 straight Big 12 home games from 1998 to 2002. 

Another November to Remember?
Nebraska has opened the month of November with a pair of dramatic victories. The Huskers defeated Northwestern 27-24 on Nov. 2 in Lincoln, before winning 17-13 at Michigan last Saturday. The wins give Nebraska seven straight wins in the month of November.

- Nebraska is 18-4 in the month of November in Bo Pelini’s six seasons as head coach, including perfect records in the month of November in 2009 and 2012.

- Nebraska’s current streak of seven straight wins in November is its second longest November win streak under Pelini. Nebraska won nine straight November games from 2008 to 2010.

- Nebraska has posted fourth-quarter comebacks in four of the seven wins in its current November streak.

Huskers Continue to Show Ability to Rally; Win Close Games
Nebraska defeated Michigan 17-13 on Saturday, driving 75 yards in the fourth quarter for the game-winning points. The four-point win marked the second straight week NU has won by seven or fewer points and improved Nebraska to 3-0 in that situation in 2013. Nebraska has won seven straight games in games decided by seven or fewer points, tying for the second-longest winning such streak in the country, behind Arkansas State’s eight wins.

- Nebraska rallied from a 21-7 deficit for a win against Northwestern on Nov. 2. That game marked Nebraska’s fifth win in Big Ten play over the last two seasons when trailing by double digits. Nebraska also rallied from doublefigure deficits for conference wins last season against Wisconsin (17 points), Northwestern (12 points), Michigan State (10 points) and Penn State (14 points).

- Nebraska has won six Big Ten games in the past two seasons after trailing in the fourth quarter. In addition to the wins the past two weeks, Nebraska also trailed Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State in the fourth quarter before winning last season.

Abdullah Running at Impressive Pace in 2013
Junior I-back Ameer Abdullah has been one of the nation’s top running backs in 2013. The Homewood, Ala., native has emerged as a strong candidate for All-America honors and the Doak Walker Award.

Abdullah has eight 100-yard rushing games, including a career-high 225 rushing yards against Illinois, and 165 yards at Minnesota. Abdullah has rushed for 1,213 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, while averaging an impressive 6.6 yards per carry. Abdullah’s average of 134.8 rushing yards per game leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth nationally. In conference games only, Abdullah averages a Big Ten-leading 149.6 yards per game, 17.6 yards more per game
than any other Big Ten runner. 

- With 1,213 rushing yards through nine games, Abdullah’s rushing total stacks up well in recent Husker history. His nine-game rushing total is the sixth-best for Nebraska players since World War II.

- Abdullah was the first Nebraska player to reach 1,000 rushing yards in eight or fewer games since Ahman Green in 1997.

- Abdullah is well on his way to one of the top rushing seasons in school history. He is 88 yards from cracking the top 10 on the NU single-season rushing list, and 284 yards from the top five on that chart.

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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