Game Day: Nebraska vs. Fordham

Scott Bruhn/NU Communications

First Meeting

The Matchup
Nebraska will welcome fans to Memorial Stadium for the first time in two seasons on Saturday when the Huskers take on Fordham in the 2021 home opener. Game time in Lincoln is set for 11 a.m. CT with BTN providing television coverage.

Nebraska heads into the contest with an 0-1 record, following a 30-22 season-opening loss at Illinois last Saturday. The Huskers fell behind by three touchdowns midway through the third quarter before their strong late rally fell a touchdown short.

After opening with a Big Ten Conference game, the Huskers will now settle into their non-conference slate over the next three weeks. The matchup with Fordham is the first of two straight games at Memorial Stadium, followed by a trip to Oklahoma on Sept. 18.

Fordham will be opening its 2021 season on Saturday in Lincoln. After having its 2020 fall schedule postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fordham played three games during an abbreviated spring season, posting a 2-1 record. Coach Joe Conlin is entering his fourth season as the Rams’ head coach.

The matchup between the two schools was added to the 2021 schedule this spring, after Nebraska’s season-opening trip to Ireland was canceled. Nebraska was originally slated to have an open week this Saturday, but replaced a November game against Southeastern Louisiana with this week’s game against Fordham.

Series History: Nebraska vs. Fordham
Saturday’s game is the first all-time meeting between Nebraska and Fordham. It will mark Nebraska’s 13th game all-time against an FCS foe (at time of game), with the Huskers holding a 12-0 record in those contests.

• Nebraska last faced a Football Championship Subdivision opponent in 2018, when Nebraska defeated Bethune-Cookman 45-9 in Lincoln.

• All of Nebraska’s games against FCS opponents have occurred since 1992, including facing an FCS opponent for five straight seasons from 2010 to 2014. Nebraska will open its 2022 home schedule against FCS foe North Dakota.

• The matchup with Fordham is Nebraska’s first against an opponent from the state of New York since a 1984 game at Syracuse.

• Nebraska will play back-to-back opponents from New York with the University of Buffalo coming to Memorial Stadium on Sept. 11. The last time Nebraska played consecutive non-conference games against opponents from the same state was 2006 matchups against Louisiana Tech and Nicholls State.

Husker History in Home Openers
Nebraska opens its seven-game home schedule on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The Huskers have won two of three home openers under Scott Frost. Overall, Nebraska has been victorious in 33 of its past 35 home openers.

• Aside from the 2020 shortened pandemic season when Nebraska opened with two straight road games, this season marks the first time Nebraska did not open its season at home since 1999. In that season, Nebraska opened with a win at Iowa before defeating Cal in its home opener.

Ervin Jr. Makes History in Season Opener
True freshman running back Gabe Ervin Jr. was in the starting lineup for Nebraska’s season opener at Illinois. Ervin finished the game with 12 carries for 33 yards in his collegiate debut.

Ervin’s role as the starting running back in a season opener was notable. He is the first Husker true freshman running back to start a season opener in the modern era. In fact, Ervin is just the seventh position player in the modern era to earn a starting job in a Husker season opener.

Veteran Defense Looks to Lead Huskers this Season
Nebraska returned 11 full- or part-time starters on a veteran defense that figures to be a strength of the 2021 Huskers. The veteran nature of the Husker defense was evident in game one at Illinois, when every defender in the starting lineup had previously started a game at Nebraska. Entering the season, the Huskers brought back eight players who started at least seven games in 2020.

• In the season opener at Illinois, Nebraska allowed 326 yards of total offense, marking its fourth straight game allowing fewer than 400 yards of total offense. That is the longest such streak for the Nebraska defense since the 2016 season.

• Nebraska allowed an average of 169.5 rushing yards per game and 386.5 yards of total offense per game in 2020. Those totals marked the fewest rushing and total yards allowed per game by a Husker defense since the 2016 season.

• According to ESPN, Nebraska entered the 2021 season with the most returning defensive production of any team in the Big Ten West. The ESPN formula takes into account a team’s total number of returning tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and passes defended.

• A total of seven Husker defenders earned at least honorable-mention All-Big Ten accolades last season. That was the highest number of all-conference defenders since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, and six of those seven All-Big Ten selections return this fall.

• Cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt was a 2020 second-team All-Big Ten honoree. Teams generally avoided throwing to Taylor-Britt’s side of the field, but when they did he broke up four passes and had a pair of interceptions in eight games. Taylor-Britt has ranked in the top 70 nationally in interceptions each of the last two years, and he ranked third nationally in forced fumbles in 2019.

• Safety Marquel Dismuke, outside linebacker JoJo Domann, inside linebacker Will Honas, defensive lineman Ben Stille and safety Deontai Williams all return as “super seniors” in their sixth year playing college football, although Honas is out with an injury. Each player was a senior last year but chose to take advantage of the free year of eligibility in 2020 and return for the 2021 season. Each of the five “super seniors” earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten accolades last season.

• Dismuke has started 21 consecutive games at safety. He ranked fourth on the team with 47 tackles in 2020 and set career highs with 4.0 TFLs and four pass breakups in last year’s shortened season. Dismuke has totaled 164 tackles in his career.

• Domann led the Huskers with a career-high 58 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in eight games last season. Domann entered the 2021 season ranked third among all active FBS players with seven career forced fumbles.

• Stille returned to anchor the defensive line. His 23 career starts are the most of any current Blackshirt. Stille is Nebraska’s active career leader with 26.0 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks.

• Williams set career highs with 51 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack in eight games last year. He also broke up four passes and had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery for a touchdown on the same play against Penn State, believed to be the first Husker ever to accomplish that feat.

• In addition to the six returning All-Big Ten players, NU returns five other starters. Garrett Nelson started every game at outside linebacker in 2020 and totaled 30 tackles, 4.0 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. He opened the 2021 season with a career-high 2.5 tackles for loss at Illinois.

• Ty Robinson started seven games at defensive end as a redshirt freshman in 2020, totaling 17 tackles with a pair of tackles for loss.

• Luke Reimer made the most of his five starts at inside linebacker last season, recording 40 tackles and ranking second on the team with 2.0 sacks and third with 5.0 TFLs despite battling injuries.

• Nick Henrich started one game in 2020 and has earned a starting role in 2021. Henrich finished last season with a double-figure tackle (12) game at Rutgers, and had a game-high 11 tackles in the season opener at Illinois.

• Caleb Tannor started five games at outside linebacker last season. Despite the shortened season, he finished with a career-high 23 tackles.

• Damion Daniels started three games at nose guard in 2020 and set career highs in tackles (20) and tackles for loss (4.0).

• The Huskers also bring back safety Myles Farmer, cornerback Quinton Newsome and defensive end Casey Rogers, each of whom made their first career starts last season.

• The defense also figures to receive a boost from transfer Chris Kolarevic, who totaled 144 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, two interceptions and five pass breakups as a starting linebacker at Northern Iowa in 2018 and 2019.

NU Features Mix of Returners, Newcomers at Receiver
Nebraska returned four of its top six receivers from last season, led by a tight end unit with two proven veterans. At wideout, Nebraska returned four of its six leading wide receivers from last season and the group is bolstered by a productive graduate transfer.

• Austin Allen started seven games at tight end last season and ranked second on the team with career highs of 18 catches and 236 receiving yards, despite a shortened season. He is on the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award (nation’s best tight end) and the Senior Bowl.

• Travis Vokolek made four starts and caught nine passes for 91 yards in the shortened 2020 season. He was fifth on the team in receiving yards, and Vokolek is on the preseason watch list for the Senior Bowl.

• At wideout, Levi Falck elected to return for another season after he made four starts and caught 13 passes for 122 yards as a graduate transfer from South Dakota last season. Falck was third on the team in receptions and fourth in receiving yards a year ago.

• Oliver Martin begins his second season at Nebraska in 2021 after an outstanding offseason where he posted impressive testing numbers. Martin made an immediate impact last season despite not gaining eligibility until November, starting four of the final five games and making five catches for 63 yards. He opened the 2021 season by setting career highs in receptions (6) and yards (103) at Illinois. He also had a career-long 43-yard catch, and caught a four-yard touchdown pass, registering a touchdown catch at a third Big Ten school (also Michigan, Iowa).

• Zavier Betts caught 12 passes and was third on the team with 131 receiving yards in a promising true freshman season in 2020.

• Nebraska also added Montana transfer Samori Toure, who was a 2019 first-team FCS All-American after catching 87 passes for a school-record 1,495 receiving yards, which ranked second nationally. Toure entered the 2021 season with career totals of 155 receptions, 2,488 yards and 20 touchdowns.

• Alante Brown (three catches for 41 yards) and Wyatt Liewer (three catches for 22 yards) also return after gaining valuable experience last season in the first playing time of their careers.

• Chris Hickman has played both tight end and receiver in his Nebraska career, and has settled in at tight end this season.

Husker Streaks Continue Into 2021 Season
A pair of impressive team streaks carry over into the 2021 season, while a legendary streak could resume following a one-year hiatus in 2020.

• Nebraska has sold out 375 consecutive games at Memorial Stadium, dating from the next-to-last home game of the 1962 season through the 2019 season. The Huskers’ legendary sellout streak – an NCAA record – was paused during the 2020 season.

• The Huskers have scored in 316 consecutive games. The streak is the longest in school history, the seventh-longest in FBS history and the fifth-longest active streak. The last time Nebraska was shut out was a 19-0 loss at No. 17 Arizona State on Sept. 21, 1996.

• Nebraska has also scored in 344 consecutive home games, a school record. The last time the Huskers were shut out at home came on Nov. 9, 1968 against Kansas State (12-0 loss).

• Nebraska is 252-0 all-time when scoring 35 or more points at home. Scott Frost is also 22-0 in his head coaching career when his team scores at least 35 points.

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