Nebraska Football: Top 5 Cornhusker Wins From the 2010s

Tommy Armstrong helped the Huskers pull off a remarkable win at home against a top-10 Michigan State team in 2015

The last decade of Nebraska football saw the Huskers play 129 games of which they won 75. Not exactly the best clip for a traditional blue-blood program and it was certainly an emotional roller coaster for Big Red backers.

 

Despite all of the changes seen between staff upheaval, culture swaps, and athletic director drama, Nebraska did manage a few victories that will forever be remembered fondly by Husker historians.

 

Here are the top five from the 2010s worth keeping in your memory banks:

 

5. 2018: Nebraska 9, Michigan State 6

 

Player of the Game: Barret Pickering: 3/3 on field goals

 

Nebraska's kicking situation in 2019 was downright putrid. But the year's presumed starter had a major role in giving Scott Frost his first true Big Ten-style win. In a game that enveloped Memorial Stadium in conditions that mimicked a snow globe, the Huskers and Spartans bludgeoned each other using hard-hitting defense all game long.

 

Pickering, a true freshman, had to be the man of the hour and knocked through three kicks that set career-best distances twice (36 and 47 yards sandwiched around a 20-yarder).

 

4. 2010: No. 14 Nebraska 31, No. 7 Missouri 17

 

Player of the Game: Roy Helu: 28 carries for 307 yards and three touchdowns

 

During the Huskers' Big 12 Farewell Tour, every former conference foe-to-be gave the Big Red their best parting shot. Missouri came into Lincoln ranked in the top 10 and ready to get their punches in. They would then be scorched on the ground as Helu shredded the Tiger defense with touchdown runs of 53, 66, and 73 yards.

 

The victory gave the Big Red ownership of the Nebraska-Missouri Bell and was their last win over a top-10 opponent in Big 12 play.

 

3. 2014: Nebraska 41, Miami 31

 

Player of the Game: Ameer Abdullah: 35 carries, 229 yards, and two touchdowns rushing, one reception for three yards and a touchdown, 81 yards in kick return yardage

 

When last these two teams met, a Miami team loaded with NFL talent dismissed a Nebraska squad that somehow managed to squeak into the 2002 BCS National Championship Game thanks to... well, math. A beat down ensued and former Hurricane quarterback Ken Dorsey lamented not putting up more points on the Blackshirts in a 37-14 romp.

 

Twelve years later, the two teams met in Lincoln and – wait for it – there was still no love lost between two programs that didn't care for each other for decades now. The atmosphere was electric. There was trash talk, taunting and everything that makes a heated rivalry.

 

In the end, Abdullah totaled a career high in all-purpose yardage to lead the Big Red to victory, gaining a slight measure of revenge for what happened in Pasadena.

 

2. 2011: No. 19 Nebraska 17, No. 12 Penn State 14

 

Player of the Game: Rex Burkhead: 25 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown

 

The significance of this game wasn't so much that Nebraska was featured in a top-20 matchup in Happy Valley. Rather, the Jerry Sandusky/Joe Paterno scandal was rocking the Penn State campus and several parties wondered if the game should even be played.

 

While cable news covered the horrific acts of Sandusky and the Nittany Lion brass' attempts to keep things quiet, the home team badly needed a win for some manner of morale boost no matter how small.

 

It seemed like a slog as tension filled the air. Nebraska's Burkhead would turn in one of his standard bruising performances to help the Big Red notch its first win against a ranked Big Ten conference foe during its inaugural year in the league.

 

1. 2015: Nebraska 39, No. 6 Michigan State 38

 

Player of the Game: Tommy Armstrong: 19-of-33 for 320 passing yards and two touchdowns

 

Nebraska fans have severely mixed feelings about the Mike Riley era in Lincoln. That said, his first team was responsible for arguably the biggest win of the past 10 years.

 

Big Ten champion and College Football Playoff participant-to-be Michigan State trotted into Lincoln for what seemed to be another tick in the win column. The Huskers were on a two-game losing streak and had just been edged by Purdue in a shootout the week prior.

 

But much like in the aforementioned game versus Miami, there was something special in the Lincoln air that night. Trailing by two touchdowns with 4:16 left in the contest, Armstrong matched the largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history. He capped a 10-play, 53-yard drive with a one-yard scamper of his own to cut the Spartan lead to five.

 

The Blackshirts would then completely stifle Michigan State's next offensive effort, forcing a three-and-out. Armstrong then helped the Nebraska offense march 91 yards in 38 seconds, eventually hitting Brandon Reilly with a 30-yard touchdown strike that left only 17 ticks on the game clock to give the Huskers a one-point lead.

 

They would never lose it and the Huskers notched a win over one of Mark Dantonio's best teams to date. The Spartans were the highest-ranked squad Nebraska would topple this decade.

 

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces) and Facebook. To contact him, click here.

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