No lead seems safe against Nebraska football

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 16, 2012 - 6:50 AM

Taylor Martinez and the Cornhuskers have won four Big Ten games trailing by double digits in the second half.

If two comebacks were a coincidence, then three comebacks were at least the start of a trend. Four? Well, now Nebraska has developed a full-fledged reputation for being a second-half team. Four times in Big Ten play this season, the Cornhuskers have trailed an opponent by double digits in the third quarter or later, only to storm back for victories.

So what's the secret to all these in-game turnarounds, Jerry Kill: Is Nebraska -- the Gophers' opponent on Saturday -- simply resilient, or do the Huskers wear down opponents?

"It's a little bit of both. I think they're resilient and they wear people down," said Kill, the Gophers coach who went on to name some other Nebraska qualities that will make life difficult for his visiting team. "They're stronger this year on the offensive line than they were a year ago. ... They wear you down in the third and fourth quarter, very much like Wisconsin."

And while it might seem incongruous to think that the Big Ten's leading rushing team (269.3 yards per game) is so adept at these comebacks, a much-improved passing game gets a share of the credit. Taylor Martinez, who completed only 56.2 percent of passes last season, has evolved into a true dual-threat quarterback. He has 19 touchdown passes (and only eight interceptions) while raising his passer rating more than 20 points over last season.

"Taylor Martinez has played pretty darn well in the fourth quarter of some of these games," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "I was watching on tape against Michigan State. ... He was dynamic, outstanding."

Fitzgerald saw it firsthand when Martinez threw two TD passes in the final six minutes to stun the Wildcats 29-28 -- the first game after the Leaders Division co-leading Cornhuskers were thumped 63-38 by Ohio State. Against Michigan State, Martinez overcame a shaky start with a 35-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, followed by a touchdown pass in the final seconds of a 28-24 victory.

Overall, in its five conference victories, Nebraska (8-2, 5-1) is outscoring opponents 95-37 after halftime. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini attributes the dramatic victories to "better execution as the games have gone on," noting that his team has put itself "in some tough situations and had to respond."

That said, he also is quite pleased with those responses.

"To do that, you have to be pretty mentally tough, which I think our guys are -- [they] believe in each other and what we're doing," Pelini said. "Like the other day, at halftime [trailing Penn State 20-6] there was no sense of panic. Our players were feeling like, 'We've been here before, we know how to do this.'"

Two quarters later, Nebraska had a 32-23 victory. This much is not in doubt: The comeback victories have defined Nebraska's season. Turn a couple of those four victories into losses -- which easily could have happened -- and there would have been some surly fans in Nebraska. Instead the Cornhuskers, who own the Leaders tiebreaker by virtue of their victory over Michigan, will be headed to the conference title game against Wisconsin if they can defeat Minnesota and Iowa in the final two weeks.

This much, too, is not in doubt: Pelini would love to be able to run out the clock against the Gophers -- a team he calls "very much improved" -- instead of watching his team scramble to beat the clock again.

"Hopefully we won't continue to put ourselves in that situation," Pelini said. "I don't know if I can handle much more of that."

  • GOPHERS AT NO. 16 NEBRASKA

    2:30 p.m. Saturday • Memorial Stadium • TV: BTN (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 38 2nd Half 4:17
Bethune-Cookman 32
Albany 25 2nd Half
Pepperdine 18
TX-San Antonio 23 2nd Half 20:00
Houston 27
Yale 20 1st Half 5:11
Bucknell 26
Northern Colorado 11 1st Half 5:52
Fla Gulf Coast 31
Belmont 4:00 PM
Mercer
Massachusetts 4:00 PM
Georgia State
George Mason 4:05 PM
Winthrop
Portland State 4:30 PM
Princeton
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close