Huskers Clinch Big 12 North

Led by 105 yards rushing from Roy Helu Jr. and another stellar performance from the "Blackshirt" defense, Nebraska took down Kansas St 17-3. The win clinched an invitation to the Big 12 Championship Game. The game turned into a virtual Big 12 North championship game as the team that won would clinch a birth to compete for the conference title. In the end, that team was the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

"Obviously this is a big one," said senior center Jacob Hickman.  "Everything around the day being senior day and everything, it was a big one. It was fun to hoist that trophy."

With the win, Nebraska clinched a berth to the conference title game for the fifth time since the conference was created.  After eleven games, Nebraska has seen a season with many highs and lows, but the clinching of the north brought a great feeling within the team. 

"It's awesome," said junior TE Mike McNeill.  "Obviously, we've put in a lot of work and it's a great feeling. We're real ecstatic, but we still have games left, so we're not done yet."

Kansas St. jumped to an early lead.  On their first time on offense, Kansas St. drove to the 27-yard line.  After their drive stalled, Wildcat kicker Josh Cherry hit a 44-yard field goal.  After that, the Wildcats were held silent. 

Nebraska would tie the game up with an Alex Henery field goal, and the Huskers finally took the lead when QB Zac Lee connected with TE Mike McNeill on a 17-yard touchdown.  Lee finished the game 13-19 for 166 yards and a touchdown. 

Nebraska took control right away in the 2nd half.  After a 47-yard pass from Lee to Niles Paul put the Huskers in the red zone, NU I-Back Roy Helu Jr. scored a 14-yard rushing touchdown to give his team a 14 point lead.

The scoring drive to start the half gave Nebraska momentum, and proved to be a crucial part of the game.

"I think it was really important," said junior QB Zac Lee.  "It put us up by two scores and made it just that much more for them to have to come back with it.  It was obviously important to get out there and give our defense a little more to work with too."

The Wildcats' only opportunity to find the end zone came to a stop at the goal line.  On 3rd and 9, Grant Gregory completed a pass to Keithen Valentine.  As Valentine approached the goal line senior safety Larry Asante forced the football loose, and Prince Amukamara recovered the fumble.  

"I was wide open," said Wildcat WR Keithen Valentine.  "I caught the ball and the safety; he just did a good job of hitting the ball.  I should have held on to it.  I dropped it."

Nebraska's defense dominated once again.  NU held the Wildcats to under 300 yard of offense, and just three points.  The Huskers also held Kansas St. QB Grant Gregory to 126 yards passing, and he just completed 11 of 31 passes. 

"Couldn't be happier," said NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini.  "That's kind of the way we've been all year.  We've given up a little bit in between the twenties, and our guys rise up and keep people out of the end zone.  I'm very pleased, I'm excited.  That's a happy locker room."

The game also took on extra importance, as Saturday marked senior day for Nebraska.  It was the last opportunity for the 13 Husker seniors to play on the Memorial Stadium turf.  For the underclassman, it gave a little extra inspiration to win one last home game for the seniors. 

"It means everything," said sophomore DT Jared Crick.  "We have a great senior class.  To have them go out the right way, it means a lot to me and a lot to the guys in the locker room."

Senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh played another stellar game on his last performance in Lincoln.  Suh finished the game with nine tackle and one and a half sacks.  However, Suh was not dazzled by his performance.

"It felt good," said Suh.  "I don't think it was one of my best performances, but I will definitely take it.  Especially since we won."

Nebraska will finish their regular season with a trip to Boulder to take on the Colorado Buffaloes.  Nebraska has extended their season one more week, but the team isn't looking ahead to their trip to Texas just yet. 

"Obviously we accomplished one of our main goals to get to Dallas," said Jacob Hickman.  "We definitely have to go out and finish this at Colorado. We want to dominate the Big 12 North and the only way we can do that is to go down to Boulder and take care of business."

Kickoff for the game against Colorado is set for 2:30 on Friday against the Buffaloes.


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