No. 16 Huskers Dominate Gophers

Posted by: Sports

No. 16 Nebraska dominated a bowl-eligible Minnesota team for three quarters to take a 38-0 lead before settling for a 38-14 win in NU's final home game of 2012 on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

With the win, the Huskers posted a perfect 7-0 record at home this year, their first undefeated home slate since the 2001 season.

Nebraska notched its fifth consecutive victory to improve to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten. The Huskers registered their fifth straight nine-win season under Head Coach Bo Pelini and moved a win away from clinching the Big Ten Legends Division title. NU closes its regular season at Iowa in the Heroes Game on Friday, Nov. 23 at 11 a.m. That game will be televised nationally by ABC.

Minnesota, which slipped to 6-5 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten with the loss, was all but shut down by Nebraska's Blackshirt defense through three quarters. The Blackshirts shut out Minnesota for three-and-half quarters, before the Gophers scored on a short touchdown run after gaining a short field midway through the fourth quarter. Minnesota added a second touchdown to capitalize on a fumbled hand-off between Ron Kellogg III and Braylon Heard at the NU 6.

Through the first three quarters, Minnesota managed just 102 total yards, including just 43 rushing yards on 19 carries. NU also held Gopher quarterback Philip Nelson to just 8-of-20 passing for 59 yards.

The Blackshirts also intercepted a pair of Nelson passes, with the first coming from senior safety Daimion Stafford – his team-leading third of the year – and the second coming from Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who took his pick to the house with a 48-yard return for a touchdown. Jean-Baptiste's interception return put the Huskers up 38-0 with 1:12 left in the third quarter.

While the defense dominated, Taylor Martinez, Kenny Bell and the rest of the Nebraska offense marched up and down the field throughout the first three quarters. Martinez completed 21-of-29 passes for 308 yards on the day, his third 300-yard passing day on the seaosn and the fourth of his career. His favorite target was Bell, as the sophomore wide receiver hauled in a career-high nine catches for a career-high 137 yards with two touchdowns.

Sophomore wide receiver Jamal Turner added a career-high six receptions for 83 yards, while junior wide receiver Quincy Enunwa added four catches for 65 yards.

Martinez, who entered the game needing just 19 yards to set Nebraska's career record for passing yards, shattered the mark and became the first 6,000-yard career passer in school history. The junior from Corona, Calif., closed the day with 6,140 career passing yards. He added 22 yards rushing to close the day with 330 yards of total offense.

Sophomore I-back Ameer Abdullah set a milestone of his own, leading the Huskers with 18 carries for 79 yards. Abdullah went over 1,000 yards for the season, finishing the day with 1,021 yards on the year.

Martinez, Bell and Abdullah rested during the fourth quarter, along with many other Husker starters.

On a day when Nebraska celebrated and honored retiring athletic director and Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne, senior place-kicker Brett Maher opened the scoring for NU with his 39-yard field on the Huskers' opening drive.

Following a Blackshirt stop, Martinez capped an eight-play, 85-yard drive by connecting with Bell on a 36-yard touchdown strike to put the Huskers up 10-0 with 6:05 left in the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, freshman I-back Imani Cross added a pair of short touchdown blasts to extend NU's lead to 24-0. The Huskers also executed well in the two-minute drill late in the half, driving all the way to the Gopher goal line before a third plunge attempt into the end zone by Cross was denied as time expired to end the half.

The Huskers continued to control play in the third quarter, as Martinez hooked up with Bell again for a 30-yard touchdown pass to give NU a 31-0 lead with 8:57 left in the quarter. Jean-Baptiste's 48-yard interception return capped Nebraska's scoring for the game with 1:12 left in the third quarter.

Nebraska finished the day with with 444 yards of total offense, including 133 rushing and 311 passing. Minnesota picked up 75 of its 177 total yards in the fourth quarter as the Huskers substituted freely on Senior Day at Memorial Stadium.

Scoring Summary
Final: No. 16 Nebraska 38, Minnesota 14
Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)

First Quarter (NEB, 10-0)
NEB – 11:49 – Brett Maher 39 FG – 7 plays, 53 yards, 3:11 (NEB, 3-0)
NEB – 6:05 – Kenny Bell 36 pass (Maher kick) – 8 plays, 85 yards, 3:40 (NEB, 10-0)

Second Quarter (NEB, 24-0)
NEB – 7:47 – Imani Cross 3 run (Maher kick) – 5 plays, 63 yards, 1:55 (NEB, 17-0)
NEB – 4:22 – Cross 1 run (Maher kick) – 5 plays, 34 yards, 2:19 (NEB, 24-0)

Third Quarter (NEB, 38-0)
NEB – 8:57 – Bell 30 pass from Martinez (Maher kick) – 5 plays, 74 yards, 2:24 (NEB, 31-0)
NEB – 1:12 – Stanley Jean-Baptiste 48 INT return (Maher kick) – (NEB, 38-0)

Fourth Quarter (NEB, 38-14)
MINN – 7:39 – MarQueis Gray 1 run (Jordan Wettstein kick) – 5 plays, 58 yards, 1:56 (NEB, 38-7)
MINN – 2:59 – Gray 6 run (Wettstein kick) – 1 play, 6 yards, 0:05 (NEB, 38-14)

Final: No. 16 Nebraska 38, Minnesota 14
Attendance: 85,330
Time of Game: 3:14
Game Start: 2:43 p.m. (central)