A great way to send off 29 Seniors and Athletic Director/legend of Husker lore, Dr. Tom Osborne.
For the 16th straight time, Nebraska defeats Minnesota 38-14, completing an undefeated home season for the first time since .
More importantly, the Huskers remain in the driver’s seat for the Legends Division and a trip to Indianapolis.
Nebraska got off to a quick start on their opening drive: seven plays for 53 yards and a Brett Maher 39-yard field goal. After the initial field goal, things went the Huskers’ way.
Wide receiver Kenny Bell added to the Huskers’ lead, a 36-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Martinez. Imani Cross added a pair of short, goal line touchdown runs (3-yards, 1-yard). With the clock running out on the second half, Cross failed to snag his third.
“It was my fault… I didn’t lower my pads”. Cross says.
Up 24-0 with 8:57 left in the third quarter, Bell would snag a 30-yard touchdown pass from Martinez – his second of the night, his ninth of the season and all of them 25-plus yards. Bell finished the night with 9 catches for 136 yards.
The defense would get its second pick-six of the season in the third. Stanley Jean-Baptiste picked off Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson for a 48-yard score, making it 38-0 Huskers.
Nebraska would not complete the shut-out though. Minnesota’s MarQueis Gray scored on goal line runs of 1-yard and 6-yards near the end of the game, one of those off a Ron Kellogg III fumble.
With the win, the Huskers (9-2, 6-1) are now a win away from Indianapolis.
“Obviously, some things to clean up; now the challenge is going to be to come back in a short week and be ready to go on the road and put ourselves in position to finish off the second half of the year the way we want to”. Head coach Bo Pelini says.
Martinez’ completed 21-of-29 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns, also becoming Nebraska’s new career passing record and 614 yards short of Joe Gantz’ single season passing record. Pelini praised his quarterback, saying he’s playing at a high level.
The Blackshirts kept the Minnesota offense in check all game long; holding the Golden Gophers to just 1-of-13 on third downs and allowing 177 yards in total offense. Aside from allowing 14 points in the fourth quarter, coaches and players were pleased with the performance.
Coaches and players also spoke about the final game of Tom Osborne’s legacy. 500 – that’s how many games he’s been part of as a coach or athletic director. Fans, former players and celebrities gave Osborne a great send-off with pre-game and halftime messages and events. The most touching part of the game was Osborne joining Pelini and the team for one final tunnel walk.
And he didn’t just walk, he RAN on the field.
Pelini says he asked Osborne to join them, he was reluctant.
“I told him it would mean a lot to me and to the football team and that it’s the way I think it should be”.
“He’s done so much and influenced our lives”, Bell says. “We were really thankful to have him lead off on the field. (the) Tunnel walk is a sacred thing and to have such an iconic person lead you out onto the field is a really great thing”.
As the final seconds ticked, emotions ran high for 29 seniors. Unfortunately, running back and senior Rex Burkhead did not play (injured knee). Fans were chanting “we want Rex’, but it never happened. Pelini says Burkhead could have played, but opted to keep him out for one more week.
The focus now turns to the Iowa Hawkeyes on the short week. With a win or a Michigan loss next week, Nebraska clinches its first Big Ten title game berth and a rematch with Wisconsin. huskersminnesotarecap