Nebraska returns home to Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening, as the Huskers will complete non-conference play against Northern Illinois. Kickoff under the lights in Lincoln is set for shortly after 7 p.m. CT, with national television coverage on FS1 and radio coverage available on the Husker Sports Network from Learfield-IMG.
Nebraska will come into the game against Northern Illinois with a 1-1 record, after a tough 34-31 overtime loss at Colorado last Saturday. The Huskers jumped to a 17-0 lead in the game, and led by a touchdown in the final moments before a Colorado score forced overtime, where the Buffs prevailed. The Huskers will look to rebound against Northern Illinois and extend their winning streak at Memorial Stadium to six games.
Northern Illinois will also bring a 1-1 record to Lincoln on Saturday. The Huskies opened the season with a win over Illinois State, before dropping a 35-17 contest at No. 14 Utah last Saturday. Northern Illinois is under the directon of first-year head coach Thomas Hammock, who took over at his alma mater after spending the previous five seasons on the Baltimore Ravens coaching staff.
Saturday’s meeting is the second game in a four-game series with Northern Illinois. The Huskies won in Lincoln in 2017 and have two additional future visits to Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska and Northern Illinois will meet for the fourth time on Saturday evening, with the Huskers owning a 2-1 edge. All three previous games were played at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska posted victories in 1989 and 1990 while NIU won in Lincoln in 2017.
• In addition to Saturday’s game, Northern Illinois is scheduled to visit Lincoln in 2021 and 2023.
• Nebraska is 5-1 all-time against members of the Mid-American Conference, with the lone loss being the 21-17 setback against NIU in 2017.
• Including the two future games with NIU, Nebraska has five future games scheduled with members of the Mid-American Conference (NIU-2021, 2023; Central Michigan-2020; Buffalo-2021; Akron-2025).
Huskers Hope to Shine Under Memorial Stadium Lights
The Huskers have a long history of success under the lights in Lincoln.
• The Huskers have won 20 of their last 22 home night games at Memorial Stadium. NU is 46-7 all-time in Memorial Stadium night games.
• Nebraska’s dominance at night in Lincoln has been impressive, as 33 of the home night wins have been by at least 13 points.
• The seven losses in home night games have all come against teams that won at least 10 games in that season (Washington, 1991; Texas, 2002; USC, 2007; Virginia Tech and Missouri, 2008; Wisconsin and Ohio State, 2017).
• Nebraska will be playing its first home night game since the 2017 season. The Huskers were scheduled to play Akron in a prime-time season opener in Lincoln last fall, but the game was canceled because of inclement weather. The 2018 season marked the first time since 1995 that Nebraska did not host a home night game.
Frost in Second Season with Huskers
Scott Frost is in his second season at Nebraska in 2019. The 2017 consensus national coach of the year, Frost boasts a 24-16 career record as a collegiate head coach.
• Although Nebraska finished with a 4-8 record in 2018, five of the eight losses came by a combined 21 points. NU lost five games by five or fewer points, including a trio of three-point defeats. Nebraska won four of its final six games, and the two losses were a five-point loss at an Ohio State team that ended the year ranked No. 3 in the nation and a three-point loss at Iowa, when the Hawkeyes kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired. Iowa finished with a No. 25 ranking.
• As the head coach at UCF, Frost improved from 6-7 in his first season to 13-0 in year two. A similar turnaround at Nebraska could be historic. A nine-win season by Nebraska in 2019 would tie for the second-largest win improvement from one season to the next in school history (five games), while a 10-win campaign would tie the largest win improvement (six games).
• In 12 seasons as a full-time assistant or head coach, Frost’s teams have posted a 127-33 record, averaging nearly 11 wins per season. Frost has been a part of seven conference championship teams and coached in two national championship games in his 12 seasons.
• Frost’s teams have been ranked in the top 15 in 10 of his 12 seasons, including eight final top-10 rankings and six final top-five rankings.
• Each of NU’s last five head coaches won at least eight games in their second season, and the four head coaches prior to Frost all produced their best winning percentage at Nebraska in year two.
Frost Offenses Impressive on Opening Drives
One common theme of a Scott Frost-led offense has been a fast start, and that has held true for Frost’s tenure in Lincoln. Nebraska has scored on its opening drive in each of the first two games in 2019. NU received the opening kickoff against South Alabama and drove nine plays and 81 yards for a touchdown to a take a 7-0 lead. At Colorado, Nebraska drove 96 yards in five plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. The opening-drive score continued a theme from 2018.
• Nebraska scored on its first possession seven times in 12 games last season, including six of the final seven games. All seven of NU’s opening scoring drives resulted in touchdowns.
• NU received the opening kickoff nine times in 2018 and scored touchdowns on six of those drives while punting only once. The Huskers had a game-opening touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead in five straight games during the Big Ten Conference season.
• The Huskers scored on nearly 60 percent of their opening possessions in 2018, even with a pair of drive-ending turnovers in opponent territory. Nebraska’s average touchdown drive covered more than 74 yards, including one 80-yard touchdown march and five 75-yard scoring drives.
• Over the last three seasons – 2018-19 at Nebraska and 2017 at UCF – Frost’s offenses have scored a touchdown on their opening possession 18 times in 27 games (67 percent). The average length of the touchdown drive in that span is 74 yards.
• In three-plus years as a head coach, Frost’s offenses have scored on their opening drive 22 times in 40 games, with 21 touchdowns and one field goal. In 80 games over six-plus seasons as a play-caller, Frost’s offenses have scored on their first possession of the game 43 times, putting points on the board in more than half of their opening possessions.
• Frost’s Opening Drive Scoring Percentage: 54% (43 of 80 drives)
• Frost’s Opening Drive Touchdown Percentage: 48% (38 of 80 drives)
Huskers Continue Streaks into 2019 Season
Nebraska continues a pair of long team streaks in the 2019 season, while a pair of Huskers are also riding impressive individual streaks.
• Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois will mark Nebraska’s 370th consecutive sellout. The sellout streak began in 1962 and is in its 57th year in 2019.
• Nebraska has scored in 297 consecutive games. The streak is the longest in school history, the eighth-longest in FBS history and the fifth-longest active streak.
• Junior wide receiver JD Spielman has made at least two catches in each of his 23 career games. His streak of 23 straight games with a reception is tied for the sixth-longest streak in school history.
• Sophomore place-kicker Barret Pickering has made 10 consecutive field goals, 26 consecutive extra points and 36 straight kicks overall. His streak of 10 straight made field goals is the seventh-longest streak in program history. Pickering has not played in the first two games because of injury.
Spielman Continues to Climb Husker Charts
Junior wide receiver JD Spielman has already made Husker history as the only player in program history to have a 200-yard receiving game. In only two-plus seasons and just 23 games, Spielman is also leaving his mark on Nebraska’s career record book. He has 128 career catches for 1,796 yards, ranking sixth all-time at Nebraska in receiving yards and eighth in receptions.
• Spielman needs 62 receptions and 952 yards to become Nebraska’s all-time leader in both categories. He averaged 61 catches and 842 receiving yards per season in his first two years. On a per-game basis in his 23-game career, Spielman averages 5.6 receptions and 78.1 receiving yards.
• Spielman reached 1,000 career receiving yards in only 15 games. He reached the mark faster than any other Husker, eclipsing Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers (16 games).
• Spielman is the only player in school history to record 100 catches prior to his junior season.
• Spielman owns the only two 200-yard receiving games in Husker history (200 yards vs. Ohio State in 2017 and 209 yards at Wisconsin in 2018).
• Spielman is the only wide receiver in school history to have two career games with double-digit receptions (11 vs. Ohio State in 2017 and 10 vs. Purdue in 2018). Running back Marlon Lucky is the only other Husker to have two career games with double-digit catches.
• Spielman had more than 800 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons, joining Johnny Rodgers and Stanley Morgan Jr. as the only Huskers with two 800-yard receiving seasons. No Husker has ever had three 800-yard receiving seasons.
• Spielman had more than 50 catches in each of his first two seasons, joining Johnny Rodgers, Kenny Bell and Stanley Morgan Jr. as the only players in program history with multiple 50-catch seasons. No Husker has ever had three 50-catch seasons.
• Spielman opened the 2019 season with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown against South Alabama, marking his second career punt return score. He had a 77-yard punt return touchdown last season against Bethune-Cookman. He also had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in his first career touch against Arkansas State in the 2017 season opener. Spielman is one of only eight players in program history to return both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown.
• Against Colorado, Spielman recorded his fifth career 100-yard receiving game with five catches for 112 yards. He opened the scoring with a 65-yard touchdown reception, marking the sixth touchdown of his career that has covered at least 65 yards.