Husker Game Week: Northwestern


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Courtesy of Nebraska Athletics

Nebraska returns to Lincoln for a two-game homestand at Memorial Stadium, beginning with a prime-time contest on Saturday against defending Big Ten West champ Northwestern. Game time at Memorial Stadium is set for shortly after 6:30 p.m., with the game televised on BTN.

Saturday’s game is Nebraska’s Homecoming contest and the start of five home games over the final seven games of the season.

Nebraska enters the game at 2-3 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play following a heartbreaking 23-20 overtime loss at No. 20 Michigan State on Saturday night. The Huskers dominated the second half of the game, and held a touchdown lead late in the game, but a Spartan punt return touchdown forced overtime, where the Spartans escaped with the three-point win.

The Blackshirt defense continues to perform at an elite level. Nebraska held Michigan State to 254 yards of total offense, including just 14 second-half yards and no first downs in the final 30 minutes of regulation.

Northwestern comes to Lincoln with a 2-2 mark, including an 0-1 record in Big Ten action. The Wildcats opened the season with a home conference loss against Michigan State, and have since won two of three non-conference matchups, including a 35-6 victory over Ohio on Saturday in Evanston. Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s squad controlled the line of scrimmage against Ohio, rushing for 373 yards in the victory.

Each of the five Nebraska-Northwestern matchups in Lincoln since 2011 have been decided by one score, including two Nebraska wins on the game’s final play.

Series History: Nebraska vs. Northwestern
Saturday’s matchup between Nebraska and Northwestern will be the 15th all-time between the two schools, with Nebraska holding an 8-6 advantage. The teams have split 10 meetings since Nebraska joined the Big Ten and the series has a history of close games.

• The five games in Lincoln since 2011 have been decided by a total of 17 points, with the largest margin being a seven-point Northwestern overtime victory in 2017. The 2013 and 2019 Husker victories were both decided on the game’s final play, marking two of just three walk-off Nebraska wins in Memorial Stadium history.

• Overall, eight of the 10 meetings since 2011 have been decided by eight or fewer points, including each of the past four games.

• The schools met four times prior to Nebraska joining the Big Ten, with the Huskers holding a 3-1 edge. Nebraska defeated Northwestern, 66-17, in the 2000 Alamo Bowl, a Husker record for points scored in a bowl game.

• The schools are set to open the 2022 season against each other on Aug. 27 in Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic.

Nebraska to Celebrate Homecoming vs. Wildcats
This weekend will serve as Homecoming on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. This marks the 110th Homecoming Game in Nebraska history, with Nebraska owning an all-time record of 82-23-4 (.771) in Homecoming games. Nebraska has won nine of its last 11 Homecoming games, including a 6-2 record against Big Ten teams on Homecoming.

Huskers Welcome ‘Cats for Big Ten Home Opener
After playing its first two Big Ten Conference games away from Lincoln, the Huskers will play host to Northwestern for their league home opener.

• Nebraska is 7-3 in Big Ten home openers since joining the league in 2011, including a 30-23 win over Penn State last season.

Primetime in Memorial Stadium
Nebraska will play host to its first night game in Memorial Stadium since a 2019 matchup with Ohio State in Lincoln. It is just the third night game for NU in Scott Frost‘s four seasons as head coach.

• Historically, Nebraska has a strong history of success in night games at Memorial Stadium. The Huskers are 47-8 all-time in home night games since its first prime-time game at Memorial Stadium in 1986.

• Nebraska is 6-3 in home prime-time games against Big Ten foes since joining the league in 2011.

Nebraska Offense Showing Explosive Ability
The Nebraska offense has shown good balanced and posted several impressive statistics through five games in 2021.

• Against Fordham, Nebraska finished the game with 329 rushing yards and 304 passing yards to roll up 633 yards of total offense. It was Nebraska’s best offensive output since posting 674 yards of total offense at Illinois in 2019.

• The win over Fordham marked the fifth time NU has topped 600 yards in Scott Frost‘s four years as head coach. Among Big Ten teams, only Ohio State (10) has more 600-yard games in that time span.

• Nebraska’s 300-300 offensive output was a rare statistical feat in school history. The Huskers had reached that mark just twice previously vs. South Dakota State in 2013 and at Illinois in 2019.

• Nebraska has accounted for two of the seven 300/300 games by Big Ten teams over the past four years (Ohio State-3; Maryland-1; Penn State-1).

• The Huskers scored 52 points against Fordham, surpassing the 50-point mark for the first time since a 54-7 win at Maryland in 2019.

• In a 28-3 win over Buffalo, Nebraska gained 516 yards of offense, including plays of 71 (Martinez run), 68 (Martinez to Toure TD) and 68 yards (Martinez to Toure TD). The game marked the first time since a 2010 win at Kansas State in which Nebraska had three plays of longer than 60 yards.

• Nebraska averaged 8.5 yards on 61 offensive snaps against Buffalo. For the season, Nebraska averages 6.3 yards per play to rank sixth in the Big Ten and 42nd nationally.

• Nebraska has six plays of 50 yards or more to tie for sixth in the country in that category.

• Nebraska opened the season with a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in each of the first three games. Adrian Martinez had two 100-yard rushing games (Illinois, Buffalo), with Markese Stepp adding a third game over the century mark (Fordham). Samori Toure topped the century mark in receiving yards in back-to-back weeks (Fordham, Buffalo), after Oliver Martin surpassed 100 yards at Illinois.

• Research indicates it was the first time in school history Nebraska has had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in three straight games.

• Nebraska ranks third in the Big Ten and 25th in the nation in total offense at 471.0 yards per game.

Blackshirts Playing at High Level in 2021
The veteran Nebraska Blackshirt defense has shown its teeth in 2021, beginning with dominant efforts in home victories over Fordham and Buffalo. The Blackshirts carried the momentum on the road with impressive efforts against nationally ranked Oklahoma and Michigan State.

• The Blackshirts most impressive defensive effort of the season may have come at No. 20 Michigan State. The Huskers held MSU to 254 total yards in an overtime loss. In the final 30 minutes of regulation, Michigan State had no first downs and gained just 14 yards on 15 offensive plays.

• Nebraska held Oklahoma’s high-powered offense to 408 total yards in a 23-16 setback on Sept.18. OU’s offensive output ended a streak of seven straight games with the Blackshirts limiting opponents to fewer than 400 yards. It was the first time NU has held seven straight foes to less than 400 yards of offense since an eight-game streak spanning the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

• The Blackshirts posted one of the best defensive efforts against Oklahoma in recent years. Nebraska limited the Sooners to 23 points, ending OU’s FBS record streak of 65 straight games with at least 27 points.

• Oklahoma was held to seven points in the first half, marking the first time the Sooners were held to single digits in the first half of a home game since 2012.

• The Blackshirt defense allowed 33 points in a three-game stretch from Fordham to Oklahoma. That was the fewest points Nebraska has allowed in a three-game stretch since the 2010 season.

• Nebraska defeated Fordham (52-7) and Buffalo (28-3) in consecutive home wins. The defensive efforts in its two victories marked the first time Nebraska has held back-to-back opponents to single digits since 2010 when NU defeated Kansas 20-3 and lost 9-6 at Texas A&M.

• The three points allowed against Buffalo were Nebraska’s fewest since a 24-3 win over Michigan State in 2011. Nebraska held the Bulls scoreless in the first half, the first opponent NU has blanked in the first half since taking a 34-0 halftime lead at Maryland in 2019.

• Nebraska went more than seven quarters without allowing a touchdown before Oklahoma’s first quarter score. Nebraska also went 79:57 of game action without allowing a point prior to Buffalo’s third-quarter field goal.

• Nebraska did not allow a point in the fourth quarter of its first three games before an Oklahoma touchdown in the fourth quarter. Nebraska has outscored the opposition 48-14 in the fourth quarter, with the defense allowing just seven of those points.

• The defense has also set the tone in the first quarter. Opponents have scored just nine first-quarter points (2, Illinois; 7, Oklahoma), with the Blackshirts surrendering just one touchdown in five games.

• The Husker defense forced four turnovers against Fordham and Buffalo, with all four takeaways leading to Nebraska touchdowns (28 points). NU’s three takeaways against Fordham were its most since forcing four turnovers at Maryland in 2019. Nebraska intercepted three passes vs. Fordham, the first game with three picks since the 2019 season opener against South Alabama.

Click here to read Nebraska’s full notes package

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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