GAME 5: NEBRASKA at ILLINOIS
OCT. 3, 2015 | MEMORIAL STADIUM
CHAMPAIGN, ILL. | 2:30 p.m. (CT)
TV – BTN (Eric Collins, Chuck Long, Johnny Kane)
RADIO – Husker Sports Network
SATELLITE RADIO – Sirius Channel 135, XM 196
INTERNET RADIO – Huskers.com
Record: 2-2, 0-0
Last Game: Southern Miss, W, 33-28
Coach: Mike Riley
Career/NU Record: 95-82 (15th Year)/2-2 (1st Year)
vs. Illinois: 0-0
Record: 3-1, 0-0
Last Game: MTSU, W, 27-25
Coach: Bill Cubit
Career/Illinois Record: 54-48 (9th Year)/3-1 (1st Year)
vs. Nebraska: 0-1
Nebraska opens its Big Ten Conference schedule this Saturday as the Huskers travel to Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini. Kickoff at Illinois’ Memorial Stadium is set for 2:30 p.m. CT and the game will be televised on BTN.
Nebraska capped non-conference play with a 2-2 record, following a 36-28 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday in Lincoln. The Huskers rolled up better than 600 yards and will take a high-powered offense on the road to Champaign. Nebraska ranks among the top 20 nationally in passing and total offense heading into conference play, while quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. ranks among the top 15 in the nation individually in both categories.
Illinois comes into the contest with a 3-1 record, following a 27-25 victory over Middle Tenneseee last Saturday. The Fighting Illini also feature an explosive offensive attack, averaging 404.8 total yards per game and 34.3 points per contest.
Nebraska will be looking for its fourth consecutive victory in a Big Ten Conference opener. The Huskers have knocked off Illinois in their league opener each of the past two seasons. Saturday’s game in Champaign is the Huskers’ first trip to Illinois as a Big Ten member and their first overall at Illinois since 1985.
Nebraska Football Top 10
• Nebraska is 876-363-40 all-time, one of only 10 schools with 800 wins.
• The Cornhuskers rank fourth all-time with their 876 victories.
• Nebraska has won five national titles (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).
• The Huskers have won 43 conference championships.
• Nebraska’s 51 all-time bowl appearances rank third nationally.
• Three Huskers have won the Heisman Trophy (Rodgers, Rozier, Crouch).
• Nebraska’s 107 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation.
• The Huskers have 110 first-team All-Americans in school history.
• Nebraska football is the only team in any sport in NCAA history to total 100 athletic and academic All-Americans.
• Memorial Stadium has been sold out every game since Nov. 2, 1962, a streak of 343 consecutive sellouts.
Huskers to Open Big Ten Conference Action
Nebraska will begin the Big Ten portion of its 2015 schedule at Illinois on Saturday afternoon. The game marks the start of the Huskers’ fifth season of Big Ten competition, and second in the West Division.
• The Huskers are 3-1 in Big Ten openers since joining the league in 2011.
Nebraska Big Ten Openers
Date Opponent Result
10-1-11 at Wisconsin L, 48-17
10-29-12 Wisconsin W, 30-27
10-5-13 Illinois W, 39-19
9-27-14 Illinois W, 45-14
• Nebraska will be opening conference play against Illinois for the third consecutive season. The last time Nebraska opened conference play against the same opponent three consecutive seasons was a stretch of three straight wins vs. Missouri from 1999 to 2001.
• Nebraska has won 37 of its past 40 conference openers overall, with all three losses coming against top 20 teams, most recently a loss at No. 7 Wisconsin in 2011.
• Overall, Nebraska is 89-20-2 all-time in conference openers (.811 winning percentage).
• Since joining the Big Ten, Nebraska is 1-3 in its first conference road game. All three losses have come against top 12 opponents.
• Nebraska is 10-6 overall in Big Ten road games since joining the conference.
NU Set for First Big Ten Trip to Illinois
Nebraska’s matchup at Illinois on Saturday marks the Huskers’ first trip to Champaign as a Big Ten member. Nebraska last played at Illinois in 1986, winning 59-14. The Huskers hold a 9-2-1 edge in the series between the schools, including 2-1-1 in Champaign.
Nebraska has played conference road games at nine of the other 13 Big Ten schools. NU will play a league road game at Rutgers later this year, will travel to Indiana in 2016, and is scheduled to visit Maryland for the first time in 2019.
Nebraska Suffers Pair of Losses on Final Play
Nebraska heads into conference play with a 2-2 record. The Huskers, however, can truly say they are two plays from escaping non-conference action unbeaten, with both losses on the game’s final play.
• Nebraska’s 33-28 loss to BYU came when the Cougars completed a Hail Mary on the game’s final play as time expired.
• The Huskers rallied from a 23-point fourth-quarter deficit at Miami to force overtime. The Hurricanes escaped with a 36-33 win after kicking a walk-off game-winning field goal.
• The two final play losses are the first for Nebraska since the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game. Texas kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat the Huskers.
• The 2009 team also lost 16-15 at Virginia Tech as the Hokies scored in the final 20 seconds. However, the 2015 season is the only time in at least the past 35 seasons Nebraska has lost a pair of games on the final play.
Huskers Getting Production From All Parts of Roster
Nebraska has an excellent mix of experience and youth contributing to both the offense and defense in 2015.
The Huskers’ two-deep roster includes ample experience, with 15 seniors listed on the current depth chart. However, youth is also being served in Lincoln in 2015.
Through non-conference play non-seniors have produced the following percentages of statistics for Nebraska.
• Rushing: 83% (647 of 779 yards)
• Passing: 100% (1,299 of 1,299 yards)
• Receiving: 91% (1,182 of 1,299 yards)
• Scoring: 92% (133 of 145 points)
• Total Offense: 94% (1,946 of 2,078 yards)
• All-Purpose Yards: 89% (2,069 of 2,318 yards)
• Tackles: 77% (185 of 241 tackles)
• Tackles for Loss: 83% (24 of 29 TFL)
• Sacks: 90% (9 of 10 sacks)
• Interceptions: 100% (3 of 3 INT)
Huskers Continue to Battle Early-Season Injury Bug
Nebraska battled its share of injuries during fall camp and the early portion of the season.
The receiver position was hit the hardest in the month of August. The bug has spread to several position areas since the start of the season.
Sophomore receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El suffered a foot injury in mid-August that has sidelined him for the first four games and likely this week against Illinois.
• True freshman receiver Lavan Alston suffered a knee injury that required season-ending surgery.
• Senior tight end David Sutton used a strong fall camp to earn a starting role. However, he suffered a serious ankle sprain against BYU that will keep him out for up to two months.
• Junior tight end Trey Foster sprained an ankle in late August, and has played at less than 100 percent in the first four games.
• Starting linebackers Michael Rose-Ivey (groin) left the Miami game early, and will miss at least four weeks with the injury.
• Starting linebackers Josh Banderas (groin) has missed two of the past three games, while fellow starter Dedrick Young (toe) was unable to play against South Alabama. returned against Miami.
• Senior defensive end and captain Jack Gangwish (elbow) was injured against BYU and has missed the past three games.
• Junior defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (ankle) was injured in the second half against South Alabama and has missed the past two games.
• Punter Sam Foltz sprained his ankle against BYU and missed the South Alabama game, before returning at Miami.
The injuries have forced NU to use 17 different starters on defense alone through four games.
Games Lost By Injury in 2015*
• De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR 4
• Jack Gangwish, DE 3
• David Sutton, TE 3
• Vincent Valentine, DT 2
• Josh Banderas, LB 2
• Michael Rose-Ivey, LB 1
• Dedrick Young, LB 1
• Sam Foltz, P 1
* Projected starters only
Tommy Armstrong Jr. in Third Season Under Center
Junior quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. is in his third season guiding the NU offense. The Cibolo, Texas, native has an 18-7 record as the starter, including starting the past 18 games.
Armstrong had a strong sophomore season in 2014, and through non-conference play appears poised for bigger things this fall.
• Armstrong has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,266 yards and 11 touchdowns.
• Armstrong had his fourth career 300-yard passing game and third of 2015 with 368 yards against Southern Miss (319 vs. BYU, 309 at Miami). Armstrong’s other 300-yard game was a career-high 381 yards against USC in the 2014 Holiday Bowl.
• Through four games, Armstrong is first in the Big Ten and 13th nationally by averaging 316.5 passing yards per game.
• Armstrong has 12 200-yard passing games, all since the start of the 2014 season. Armstrong has passed for at least 200 yards in seven straight games, the second-longest streak in school history.
• Armstrong has 4,927 career passing yards, good for fifth on the NU passing list. He is 73 yards from becoming the fifth NU passer with 5,000 career passing yards, and he would be just the second to reach that total before his senior season (Taylor Martinez).
• Armstrong had four touchdown passes against Miami, all in the second half. He now has five career games with at least three touchdown passes. Dating back to last season, Armstrong has 18 touchdown passes in his past six games, including 11 in 2015.
• His 42 career passing touchdowns are fifth on the NU career charts. His 22 passing touchdowns in 2014 were the fourth-most in school history.
• Armstrong has thrown for at least one touchdown in 10 straight games, one shy of the school record. Armstrong has thrown for multiple touchdowns in six straight games.
• Armstrong had a career-high 431 yards of total offense against Southern Miss, bettering his 422 yards against USC in the Holiday Bowl. Armstrong has seven career games with 300 yards of total offense.
• Armstrong is averaging 346.0 yards of total offense per game to rank first in the Big Ten and 10th nationally.
• Armstrong ranks third in the nation in passes of more than 10 yards (56) and is fifth in passes of 20-plus yards (22).
• Armstrong cracked the 5,000-yard total offense mark against South Alabama, and is quickly closing in on 6,000 yards. Armstrong sits No. 3 on the NU career total offense list with 5,952 yards. He was the third player in school history to reach 5,000 yards before their senior season (Martinez, Eric Crouch).
• With 63 rushing yards against Southern Miss, Armstrong pushed his career total to 1,025 rushing yards. He is the 10th quarterback in school history with 1,000 career rushing yards.
• With another 73 passing yards, Armstrong will become one of only eight active FBS quarterbacks with 5,000 career passing yards and 1,000 career rushing yards. The other seven QBs on the list are seniors.
• Armstrong is one of only two quarterbacks in school history to start 20 games or more before the end of their sophomore season, joining Taylor Martinez.
• Armstrong is one of only nine players in the FBS ranks to run, throw and catch a touchdown pass during their career.
• Armstrong set Nebraska bowl records for attempts (51), completions (32), passing yards (381) and total offense yards (422) in the Holiday Bowl against USC.
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Nebraska-Miami Historic Rivalry Started in 1951 in Florida
For those who prefer the full historical picture of the rivalry, here are the facts:
• Six of the 11 meetings have been in bowl games, including the five matchups prior to last season. In those last six NU-UM games, the winner was crowned as the national champion four times.
• The first meeting in 1951 (Miami) was a 19-7 Hurricane win. It also marked the first night game in NU history.
• Nebraska’s 36-34 win in the 1962 Gotham Bowl in New York was the Huskers’ first-ever bowl victory.
• The 1984 Orange Bowl marked the first time the winner was crowned national champion. Miami also completed a title run by defeating NU in the 1992 Orange Bowl and captured the crown with victory in the 2002 Rose Bowl.
• NU rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit for a 24-17 win in the 1995 Orange Bowl. That win secured the first of three national titles in four years under Tom Osborne.
• Overall, Nebraska and Miami combined for seven national titles in 15 seasons from 1983 to 1997, facing each other in four bowl games during that span.
• The Huskers’ 41-31 win last season in Lincoln was the first regular-season matchup since 1976. NU rushed for 343 yards in the victory.
• Nebraska and Miami’s history also extends off the field. Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst served in the same role at Miami in 2011 and 2012, before moving to Lincoln. Nebraska Executive Associate A.D. Steve Waterfield also served on Eichorst’s staff in Coral Gables. Miami Athletic Director Blake James worked in the Nebraska development office in 1997 and 1998.
Nebraska Has Played 22 Bowl Games in Florida
Florida is a regular destination for the Nebraska Football program in the postseason. Nebraska has played 22 bowl games in Florida, including 17 appearances in the Orange Bowl in Miami.
Two of Nebraska’s 17 Orange Bowl appearances came at Sun Life Stadium. First a 41-21 victory over Virginia Tech following the 1996 season, and a 42-17 win against Tennessee to clinch the 1997 national title – Nebraska’s third national title in four seasons.
• Nebraska’s most recent visits to Florida have been a stretch of four bowl games in six years in the Sunshine State. NU played in the 2009 and 2014 Gator Bowls (Jacksonville) and appeared in the 2012 and 2013 Capital One Bowls (Orlando).
• Nebraska is 10-12 in bowl games played in Florida and 10-13 overall in the state.
• The Huskers’ only regular-season game in Florida was the 19-7 loss to Miami in 1951.