Nebraska plays its second straight home game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers entertain Northwestern in a Big Ten West battle. The game will mark Homecoming 2019 in Lincoln. Kickoff is set for shortly after 3 p.m. with national television coverage on Fox. The game can be heard on the Husker Sports Network from Learfield-IMG.
Nebraska will look to bounce back from a loss to fifth-ranked Ohio State on Saturday night in Lincoln. The setback dropped Nebraska to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten Conference play. The Huskers now head into a key stretch of two Big Ten West games in the next two weeks, with games against Northwestern and at Minnesota before heading into their first bye week of the 2019 season.
Northwestern heads to Lincoln with a 1-3 overall mark and an 0-2 record in Big Ten Conference play. The Wildcats have faced a difficult early-season schedule, opening Big Ten play against a pair of nationally ranked opponents in Wisconsin and Michigan State. The reigning Big Ten West champ Wildcats again have a strong defense, allowing 318.8 yards and 21.5 points per game in 2019.
Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the series between the Huskers and Wildcats has consistently provided some of the most entertaining and tightly contested league games on an annual basis.
Nebraska holds a 7-5 all-time lead in the series between the two schools. Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, the schools have split eight games, with the visiting team winning six of the eight contests.
• Prior to Nebraska joining the Big Ten, the schools had met four times. Nebraska held a 2-1 edge in regular-season matchups, and also defeated the Wildcats in the 2000 Alamo Bowl.
Nebraska has History of Tight Matchups with Wildcats
Six of the eight meetings have been decided by three or fewer points or in overtime, with the teams needing overtime the past two seasons.
• The four games in Lincoln between the two schools have all went down to the wire. The first three meetings at Memorial Stadium between 2011 and 2015 were decided by a total of eight points. The 2017 meeting in Lincoln went to overtime before the Wildcats posted a 31-24 victory.
• Nebraska holds a 226-205 scoring edge in the eight meetings as Big Ten opponents.
Huskers on Homecoming
Nebraska will play host to Northwestern on Saturday as part of the annual Homecoming festivities on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. The game will be the 109th all-time Homecoming contest in school history. The Huskers boast an all-time record of 81-23-4 (.769 winning percentage) in Homecoming games.
The Huskers lost last year’s Homecoming game against Purdue in Lincoln, ending a streak of nine straight Homecoming victories. Nebraska is 6-1 against Big Ten teams in Homecoming games since 2011.
Nebraska Joins 900-Win Club
Nebraska reached a major milestone in the history of its program with its win at Illinois on Sept. 21, becoming the fifth program in the country with 900 all-time victories. Nebraska joined Michigan (956), Ohio State (916), Texas (911), and Alabama (910) in the 900-win club. Oklahoma and Notre Dame joined the 900-win club a week later on Sept. 28.
Rk. School (Wins)
1. Michigan (956)
2. Ohio State (916)
3. Texas (911)
4. Alabama (910)
5. Nebraska (900)
Notre Dame (900)
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. NU has scored on its opening drive in three of the first five games in 2019.
Nebraska 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 Huskers opened with a field goal on the game’s first drive against Northern Illinois, covering 58 yards in eight plays. The opening-drive success has continued a theme throughout Frost’s head coaching tenure.
• 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. In Frost’s two seasons, Nebraska has scored on its opening possession 10 times in 17 games.
• 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 30 games (60 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 23 times in 43 games, with 21 touchdowns and two field goals. In 83 games over six-plus seasons as a play-caller, Frost’s offenses have scored on their first possession of the game 44 times, putting points on the board in more than half of their opening possessions.
• Frost’s Opening Drive Scoring Percentage: 53% (44 of 83 drives)
• Frost’s Opening Drive Touchdown Percentage: 46% (38 of 83 drives)
Barry Continues to Pile Up Tackles as Blackshirt Leader
Senior inside linebacker Mohamed Barry is serving as a team captain in 2019 after a breakthrough junior season in 2018. Barry totaled 112 tackles as a junior after recording only 44 tackles in his first two seasons combined.
• Barry leads the Nebraska defense with 41 tackles in 2019. He opened the season with a team-high 12 tackles against South Alabama, tying his career high. He added a team-high 10 tackles against Northern Illinois for his ninth career double-figure tackle game. He has led Nebraska in tackles in 12 of 17 games since the start of the 2018 season.
• Barry is looking to become the sixth Husker to have back-to-back 100-tackle seasons, joining David (2010-11), his position coach Barrett Ruud (2003-04), Lee Kunz (1977-78), Clete Pillen (1975-76) and Jerry Murtaugh (1969-70).
• Barry led Nebraska with 112 tackles in 2018, the most by a Husker since Lavonte David made 133 stops in 2011. Barry was second in the Big Ten and 38th nationally with an average of 9.3 tackles per game, and he was the Big Ten’s leading returner in that category.
• Barry was tabbed as a third-team All-Big Ten selection by the conference media in 2018 and was an honorable-mention selection by the league’s coaches. He is on the 2019 preseason watch lists for the Butkus Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Bootle and Jackson Break Up Opponent Passing Games
Junior Dicaprio Bootle wreaked havoc on opponent passing games in 2018. Bootle broke up 15 passes and had a career-high 39 tackles in his first season as a starter in 2018, helping Nebraska rank 34th nationally in pass efficiency defense, a 61-spot improvement from the 2017 season. This season Bootle ranks second on the team with four breakups.
• Bootle ranked ninth nationally in breakups and 16th nationally in passes defended per game (1.3) in 2018. His 15 pass breakups ranked second on Nebraska’s season chart and were the most by a Husker since DeJuan Groce broke up a school-record 17 passes in 2000. Bootle has four pass breakups in 2019.
• Bootle earned third-team All-Big Ten honors last year, becoming the first Husker cornerback to be honored by the conference in four seasons.
• Senior Lamar Jackson lines up opposite Bootle at corner, giving Nebraska one of the conference’s best cornerback tandems. Jackson has an interception and a team-high nine PBU in 2019.
• Jackson ranks third in the nation in passes defended per game at 2.0 per contest and is tied for the national lead with his nine breakups.
• Jackson had a career-high four breakups against Northern Illinois, bettering his previous career high of two breakups in a single game.
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. Spielman is also leaving his mark on Nebraska’s career record book. He has 140 career catches for 2,039 yards, ranking sixth all-time at Nebraska in both categories.
• Spielman reached 2,000 and 1,000 career receiving yards faster than any other Husker. He hit 2,000 yards at Illinois on Sept. 21, breaking the 2,000-yard barrier in 25 games. He reached 1,000 career yards in only 15 games, eclipsing Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers (16 games).
• Spielman needs 50 catches and 708 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 26-game career, Spielman averages 5.4 receptions and 78.4 receiving yards.
• 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.
• Spielman had a 65-yard TD reception at Colorado, his sixth career touchdown of at least 65 yards.
• Spielman had seven catches for 160 yards at Illinois, marking his third-highest receiving total at Nebraska. It was his sixth career 100-yard receiving game.