Huskers have long history with Northwestern, but recent matchups are marked by close calls on both sides

Huskers have long history with Northwestern, but recent matchups are marked by close calls on both sides
Photo Courtesy: World-Herald News Service

Nebraska and Northwestern have a long history, but it wasn’t until the Huskers joined the Big Ten that it turned into a consistently heated matchup.

In the nine games played between the two schools, the Huskers hold a 6-3 edge. The first win was in 1902 when Northwestern fell 12-0.

“Nebraska, in a hard fought game this afternoon, defeated Northwestern University of Chicago and Umpire Hall of Louisville, Ky, by the score of 12 to 0,” a story published in the Omaha World-Herald on Nov. 28, 1902 said. “There was no fluke as far as points were concerned, as the Cornhuskers earned everything they got, and then some, and tonight the scarlet and cream waves over the purple.”

Northwestern evened the score with a 19-7 victory in 1931. The game took a 43-year hiatus before No. 10 Nebraska easily topped the Wildcats 49-7 in 1974.

The next game was in the 2000 Alamo Bowl when No. 9 Nebraska rolled past No. 18 Northwestern 66-17.

Nebraska’s 66 points marked the most by a Husker team in a bowl game, and I-back Dan Alexander closed his career with a Nebraska bowl-record 240 rushing yards on 20 carries. The Huskers finished with an Alamo Bowl-record 476 rushing yards, which was later broken by Baylor in 2011.

Things became a little more balanced once the Huskers joined the Big Ten, as four games were decided by three points or less. Nebraska has won three of five games, with the three victories (29-28 in 2012, 27-24 in 2013 and 38-17 in 2014) sandwiched between a 28-25 loss in 2011 and a 30-28 loss in 2015.

Nebraska overcame fourth-quarter deficits in 2012 and 2013, including winning on Ron Kellogg’s Hail Mary to Jordan Westerkamp in 2013.

The 2015 loss was Mike Riley’s only career game against Northwestern. On the other side, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is 2-3 against the Huskers. Against Top 25 teams — Nebraska enters ranked 20th — Fitzgerald is 9-18, including a 4-3 mark in the past two seasons.

Other notes:

>> Nebraska has won 37 of its past 41 conference openers overall, with three of the four losses against top 20 teams.

>> In its nine total matchups, Nebraska holds a scoring edge of 281-170, or about 31-19 per outing. In the last five seasons, the Huskers’ edge is just 147-127 overall, or an average game score of 29.4-25.4.

>> The Huskers are 89-21-2 all-time in conference openers.

>> Nebraska is 12-8 in Big Ten road games since joining the conference.

>> Pat Fitzgerald — who holds a 71-58 overall record with the Wildcats and is the winningest coach in school history — has led Northwestern to two of the four 10-win seasons in Northwestern history (2012, 2015) and six of the Wildcats’ 12 all-time bowl games (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015).

#20 Nebraska at Northwestern

When: 6:30 p.m. (Pregame: 1:30 p.m.)

Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill

Radio: B103 (103.1 FM)

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