LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska built a four-touchdown lead in the first half and survived some nervous moments in the second before pulling away to beat Minnesota 53-28 on Saturday, giving Scott Frost his long-awaited first win as Cornhuskers coach and ending a program-record 10-game losing streak.
A week after squandering a late 10-point lead at Northwestern and losing in overtime, the Huskers (1-6, 1-4 Big Ten) scored on three of their first four possessions on their way to a 28-0 lead.
Minnesota made things interesting, though, scoring on three possessions in a row spanning the halves, with backup quarterback Tanner Morgan replacing Zack Annexstad to open the third quarter and leading two straight touchdown drives to pull the Gophers to 28-22.
Adrian Martinez hit Stanley Morgan Jr. for a 35-yard TD and passed to him again for a 2-point conversion to make it 36-22. The Huskers stopped Minnesota on fourth-and-goal at the 3 and then chewed 7 minutes off the clock before Barrett Pickering kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it a three-possession game with 7:53 left.
Nebraska rushed for 383 yards and totaled 659. Devine Ozigbo ran for 152 yards, Martinez for 125 and Maurice Washington for 109.
Martinez completed 25 of 29 mostly short passes adding up to 276 yards and three TDs.
The Gophers were without running back Shannon Brooks, who was arrested last weekend on suspicion of misdemeanor assault for an altercation with his male roommate. Brooks, who was medically cleared to play after rehabbing an offseason knee injury, didn't make the trip.
Morgan was 11 of 16 for 214 yards and Annexstad 9 of 20 for 135.
· Nebraska picked up its first win of the 2018 season and its second straight victory over Minnesota at Memorial Stadium. The Husker victory closed Minnesota’s all-time lead in the series to 32-25-1. Nebraska holds a 5-3 edge in the series since the Huskers joined the Big Ten.
· Nebraska’s 53 points today are the most points it has scored in a conference game since joining the Big Ten Conference.
o Last time NU scored more than 53 points against a Big Ten team was the 2000 Alamo Bowl with 66 points against Northwestern.
o Last time NU scored more than 53 points in a game was in 2014 when it scored 55 against both Florida Atlantic and Fresno State.
o Most points in a conference game since 2008 when NU scored 56 at Kansas State.
· Nebraska rushed for a season-high 383 yards in the game, the most by a Nebraska team since rushing for 458 yards against Illinois in 2014. The Huskers posted 274 rushing yards in the first half alone, and topped its previous season high of 329 rushing yards vs. Colorado.
· For the fifth time in school history the Huskers featured a trio of 100-yard rushers with Devine Ozigbo (152), Adrian Martinez (125) and Maurice Washington (109). It marked the second time this season Nebraska has had multiple 100-yard rushers (also vs. Colorado) and the first time that the Huskers have had three 100-yard rushers in a game since Taylor Martinez, Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead all topped 100 yards at Washington in 2010.
· Nebraska gained 659 yards of total offense in the game, including 398 yards before halftime. The 398 yards in the first half were the most by the Huskers in an opening half since the Huskers gained 446 yards of offense in the 2014 opener against Florida Atlantic.
· Today’s game marked the fourth consecutive game Nebraska has topped 475 yards, marking the first time NU has posted better than 475 yards of total offense in four straight games since the final three games of 2007 and the season opener in 2008. Nebraska has topped 475 yards in five of seven games this season, including four 500-yard outings.
· Senior running back Devine Ozigbo rushed 12 times for 152 yards, including his two longest runs of the season in the first quarter, a 40-yard TD run on the opening drive and a career-long 59-yard touchdown run to give Nebraska a 14-0 advantage. The 59-yard run was the longest by a Husker since Terrell Newby had a 63-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Illinois in 2016.
· Ozigbo carried three times for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone, and had seven carries for 139 yards in the first half.
· Ozigbo topped 150 yards for the third time in the past four games, including his previous career-high of 170 yards vs. Purdue and 159 at Northwestern. In conference games only, Ozigbo is averaging 8.3 yards per carry and has six rushing touchdowns.
· Nebraska senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. caught a career-high 10 passes for 163 yards, and two touchdowns (35, 67) in today’s game. Morgan bettered his previous high of eight receptions in two previous games (at Illinois, 2017; at Wisconsin, 2018). It was the sixth 100-yard receiving game of his career, which ranks fourth overall in Nebraska history.
· With his 10 receptions, Morgan increased his career receptions total to 156 making him the fourth Husker to reach 150 career receptions. He is now 25 receptions from Kenny Bell’s school record of 181 career catches.
· Morgan’s 67-yard touchdown reception to seal Nebraska’s win midway through the fourth quarter was the 18th of his career and moved him into a tie for fourth on Nebraska’s career touchdown receptions list.
· Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez accounted for 401 yards of total offense in today’s game, including 276 passing yards and a career-high 125 yards on the ground. It marked Martinez’s fourth game with at least 300 yards of total offense this season, giving him four of the six 300-yard total offense games by freshmen in school history.
· Martinez completed 25-of-29 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Martinez completed his first 11 passes of the game, and passed for better than 250 yards for the fourth straight game. He is the first Husker quarterback to pass for 250 yards in four consecutive games since Tommy Armstrong Jr. reached the mark in four straight games to open the 2015 season.
· With his 125 rushing yards in the game, Martinez increased his season rushing total to 415 to surpass Tommie Frazier for the most rushing yards by a true freshman quarterback. Frazier rushed for 399 yards as a true freshman in 1992.
· Sophomore receiver JD Spielman caught eight passes for 77 yards in the game, including a nine-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. His TD catch was the seventh of the season for Spielman, leaving him one touchdown catch shy of the top 10 on the NU season touchdown receptions chart.
· Spielman has caught at least eight passes in each of the past four games. With his eight receptions, Spielman increased his career total to 103 receptions to become the 12th Husker with more than 100 career receptions. Spielman is the first Husker to reach the milestone before his senior season and his 103 catches ranks are tied with Niles Paul for 10th in school history. In today’s game, Spielman passed De’Mornay Pierson-El (100) on the career receptions list.
· Spielman also moved into a tie for 11th place on the career receiving yardage list with Maurice Purify. He now has 1,444 career receiving yards and moved past Marlon Lucky (1,379) today. He is 13 yards away from overtaking Matt Davison (1,456) for 10th place on the list.
· Linebacker Mohamed Barry finished with a team-high 11 tackles, marking his fourth double-figure tackle effort of the season. Barry has had at least eight tackles in six of seven games this season.