Huskers to play Michigan for share of Legends lead

After rallying late to win at Northwestern, Nebraska will play

for a share of the Big Ten Legends Division lead when Michigan

visits Lincoln this Saturday night.

The Cornhuskers (5-2, 2-1) defeated the Wildcats 29-28 Saturday

thanks to Taylor Martinez’s big fourth quarter and despite three

turnovers and eight penalties.

So it’s one down and five to go for the Huskers to meet coach Bo

Pelini’s challenge – issued after a 25-point loss at Ohio State two

weeks ago – to win their final six regular-season games.

”I firmly believe we can win `em all,” he said after

Saturday’s game in Evanston, Ill. ”We can play with anybody we

play with. We can’t do the things we did today. We pulled this one

out. A lot of the issues we had were self-induced. You’re not

always going to be able to come back and make that kind of

comeback.”

Michigan (5-2, 3-0) will head to Nebraska on a three-game win

streak after a 12-10 victory over Michigan State.

The game figures to be an entertaining matchup between two of

the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks in Martinez and Denard

Robinson.

Last year the Wolverines capitalized on three Nebraska turnovers

to win 45-17 in Ann Arbor.

Turnovers have been a problem for the Huskers the past two

seasons, and they probably would have cost Nebraska the game

against Northwestern if the defense hadn’t held strong.

Northwestern converted only one of Nebraska’s fumbles into

points and went three-and-out on 10 possessions. The Wildcats had

301 total yards, but 106 of them came on two scoring plays.

Still, the Huskers were forced to erase a 12-point deficit and

match their biggest fourth-quarter comeback in school history.

The Huskers, who rallied from 17 points down in the third

quarter to beat Wisconsin, were down 28-16 with 8 minutes left.

Martinez completed 9 of 10 passes while leading touchdown drives of

80 and 76 yards for the lead. He finished 27 of 39 for 342

yards.

”It’s one of my top (games), I’d say,” Martinez said.

Martinez pulled the Huskers within 28-23 when he threw a

perfectly placed ball into the corner of the end zone, where Taariq

Allen won the jump ball for his second career catch and first for a

TD.

”Great throw, great catch,” Pelini said. ”To get his feet

in… It was contested. Heck of a play by the young man.”

Nebraska’s defense forced yet another three-and-out to set up

the winning drive.

”Everyone knew we were going to score a touchdown,” Martinez

said. ”You could feel it throughout the offense. We knew if we got

the chance we’d score again.”

Martinez hit Quincy Enunwa with a couple big passes before

throwing 7 yards to Ben Cotton off play-action for the go-ahead TD

with 2:08 left.

Northwestern had a chance to regain the lead with just over a

minute left, but Jeff Budzien’s 53-yarder was off the mark.

Pelini, who had been seen screaming at players on the sideline

and into his headset throughout the game, raised his arms and broke

into a big smile as officials signaled Budzien’s attempt sailed

wide right.

”I thought it was a good team win,” he said. ”I was

frustrated with getting ourselves in that situation in the first

place. We’ve got to use this momentum and we’ve got to keep

working. It’s the second half of the year, and we’re starting a new

season. We got one here on the road and we have to keep

going.”

Martinez pushed his career passing total to 5,335 yards, making

him the fourth player in school history to go over 5,000 yards

passing.

The junior also is the 18th player in Bowl Subdivision history

with 5,000 career passing yards and 2,000 career rushing yards, and

he’s just the seventh to reach the milestone before his senior

season.

”Taylor overall played a pretty outstanding football game,”

Pelini said. ”He was poised the whole time. He kept his poise

better than his head coach did.”