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Nebraska Dominates Northwestern In Second Half

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Jonathan Daniel

Nebraska picked up where they left off against Michigan State with poor blocking and tackling in the first half against Northwestern. Northwestern drove 89 yards on their first possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead. After Nate Gerry intercepted Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian in the second quarter, the Huskers tied the game at 7-7 with a seven play, 80 yard drive.

All through the second quarter, Nebraska had tremendous difficulty tackling Northwestern running back Justin Jackson, who scored with just two minutes before halftime to take a 14-7 lead.  But Tommy Armstrong and De'Mornay Pierson-El responded with a couple of huge plays.  Armstrong hit Pierson-El in stride on a crossing route for a 47 yard gain, and then two plays later, Pierson-El took a pitch from Ameer Abdullah on a reverse, only to then toss a 16 yard touchdown pass back to Armstrong.  But that three play drive left enough time for Northwestern to drive the field and kick a field goal to give Northwestern a 17-14 lead at halftime.

At halftime, Northwestern not only led on the scoreboard, but also on most statistical measures, outgaining the Huskers 262 to 227 yards.  But that was the extent of the highlights for Northwestern on the evening, as Nebraska dominated the second half.  How dominant?  Nebraska gained 241 yards; Northwestern gained just 28 yards.  Siemian was a net negative as he threw for 25 yards and lost 37 yards on sacks.  Jackson was held in check as well, gaining just 30 yards.

Tommy Armstrong was in a zone after being challenged by offensive coordinator Tim Beck at halftime, completing 10 of 13 passes. He also made plays on his feet, as this leaping run down to the goal line shows:

Ameer Abdullah got untracked in the fourth quarter, starting with a 50 yard run that set up one of Abdullah's four touchdowns on the day.  Abdullah rushed for 146 yards for the game; 107 in the second half.  Reserve defensive tackle Kevin Williams became Siemian's latest Nebraska nightmare, sacking him three times in the second half.  Williams was in for an injured Vincent Valentine, who dinged up his elbow.  Randy Gregory also left the game twice with an apparent leg injury, but returned later in the game.

Trevor Roach led all defenders with 10 tackles, seven of which came in an impressive first quarter. As the game progressed, Roach joined his teammates with bad tackling, sending him to the bench in favor of Josh Banderas, who played better than in recent weeks.

The game paused for several minutes in the third quarter after Northwestern receiver Miles Shuler was injured when his helmet hit Corey Cooper's arm.  Shuler was taken off the field on a stretcher to be checked out at a hospital, where tests came back clear for any serious injuries.

Nebraska moves to 6-1, which makes them bowl eligible once again. They next face Rutgers in an 11 am game that will be televised next Saturday by one of the ESPN networks.