This game started with a bad omen. On Minnesota's first possession, they marched down the field for an easy touchdown. A quarterback averaging 168 yards per GAME was a perfect 5 for 5 and passed for 64 on that drive alone. You had the feeling it was going to be a long day for the Huskers at that point.
Nebraska answered with a monster run by Terrell Newby. Huskers tie the game 7-7 very quickly.
The Blackshirts forced a Minny punt and we saw De'Mornay Pierson-El (DPE) is BACK BABY!! A great return set up the Huskers in the red zone. But then, Drew Brown missed the 31 yard field goal. Game still tied 7-7.
The Blackshirts would come up big again as Gerry forced a fumble (recovered by Gangwish). This time, the Huskers found paydirt as Alonzo Moore laid out for a great grab. Some props should be given to the big guys up front as Tommy had all day to throw that ball.
The Huskers forced another punt, even though Minnesota remembered they can pass the ball. The Gophers pinned Nebraska inside the 10. Langsdorf released the Janovich on a 3rd and short. Janovich fumbled, picked it up and still managed to get the first down. Then a nice Newby run ended the first quarter Huskers up 14-7.
Several good rushes along with a nice run after catch by Moore kept the Huskers churning toward the red zone. Tommy extended one drive by running for 7 on a 3rd and 6. Then the drive stalled and the Huskers settled for a 46 yard field goal by Drew Brown. Huskers lead 17-7.
Minnesota passed their way down the field pretty easily and got the touchdown. Huskers were still leading 17-14. The Huskers answered with an open playbook as multiple playmakers registered rushes or catches. It was finished by a sweet, winding, Newby run for 6 points. Brown's extra point was good. Huskers lead 24-14. I was a little bit concerned to see Tommy Armstrong having his ankle taped after the series was over. He looked like he tweaked it when he was tackled on a QB run a few plays before the touchdown.
The Husker D forced a punt after a couple of nice stops by Byerson Cockrell. DPE lost the punt in the sun and allowed it to roll down to the 6 yard line. With nothing really available and only 30 seconds on the clock, the Huskers did a conservative run up the middle and the half was over. Huskers leading 24-14.
Nebraska received the second half kickoff but did nothing with it and punted. Minnesota got good field position after a decent return. They could not capitalize and the Gophers punted. It was downed at the ½ yard line. The Huskers, facing a long field, took it one step at a time. They converted one first down (two runs and a Westerkamp - who else- catch on 3rd and short). A big catch by Moore moved the chains again. The Huskers encountered their FIRST penalty of the day on the next play. (39 minutes in to the game).
A nice Zo Moore catch moved the Huskers across midfield and a great QB keeper by Tommy went for big yards. A first and goal run lost 1 yard (Newby). A Cethan Carter catch was originally ruled down at the one. Replays sure looked like it was a TD and the officials confirmed it. Touchdown Huskers!! The Big Red extended the lead 31-14 on a 99 ½ yard drive.
The Huskers gave up a 25 yard return on the ensuing kickoff and Minny started at the Nebraska 30. Cockrell tried his darndest to jump over a receiver to make an interception. It was a great play by the young safety to force the incompletion. After a couple more plays, Leidner took a hard sack from Valentine from the back (Leidner was looking at McMullen toward his front and ended up in a DT sandwich). He looked pretty sore on the sideline after that hit. Sideline cameras were zooming in on his hand. Stay tuned....
After DPE returned the punt (winding around the field to only get a short gain) and the Huskers took over at their 40-ish. Zo Moore drew a PI flag on the one yard line on an underthrown ball from Tommy. The 15 yard penalty put the Huskers on Minny's 36. Janovich powered ahead for 6 followed by a Westy catch over the middle for a first down. The DB tried to take the ball but the stache held on (This is the first time I noticed that the stache was GONE!! Sound the alarms!!) The Huskers gained one yard on the next play. End of the third. Huskers leading 31-14.
On the second play of the quarter - just as the TV announcers were talking about playing in conservatively and going for the field goal, Tommy threw a touchdown pass to DPE. The pass was tipped by the defensive back, but Pierson-El showed great concentration sticking with the play, pulling it down and knowing where the sideline was. A personal foul on Minny was declined and the TD stood. Huskers lead 38-14.
Minny threw well on their next drive and moved the ball into the red zone quickly. It looked like they scored a TD but replay said it was out at the 1. It only delayed the inevitable as the Gophers ran up the middle and scored six. Minny opted for the 2 point play which was wide open (on a pick play - but it was not called). Score 38-22 Huskers.
If Husker fans were nervous at this point, it was very understandable. The Husker pass defense looked, ummm, like we have seen the past few weeks on that drive. A 16 point lead felt anything but secure with what the Husker team and fans had been through so far this season.
Newby opened the next Husker drive with a nice run which was followed by a deep pass that was way past Moore. Clock management was starting to become an issue as the Huskers were passing and snapping the ball with lots of time on the game clock. #RUNTHEDADGUMMEDBALL. After a baffling couple of incomplete passes, the Huskers were punting. The Gophers hit their passes and were in business quickly. Husker fans everywhere were thinking "here we go again".
Gangwish made a BIG stop on 3rd down and Minny elected to go for it on 4th and 3. Of course, the short pass was converted. Sigh. The Gophers continued their march down the field. The Blackshirts held them to a field goal. Husker lead was 38-25.
The onside kick was recovered by Nebraska. A penalty on Nebraska's sideline moved the ball back 15 yards.
Nebraska could not muster much offense (but we should note that they at least kept the ball on the ground -baby steps!!!). Until....a 3rd down play results in a WESTERKATCH!!!! Langsdorf then proceeded to call some run plays. The Huskers did not convert the first down, but sent Drew Brown out to kick the 41 yard field goal. GOOOOOOOOD!!!! Huskers lead 41-25.
The Gophers came out firing, but a pick six by Josh Kalu sealed the game. The Husker lead was extended to 48-25. The Gophers took possession again - which ended with a Nate Gerry interception (on 4th down).
Victory formation. Game over. WE GOT THE CHAIR!!!!
Here ya go. pic.twitter.com/gPBEotGS4z— Brian Rosenthal (@HuskerExtraBR) October 17, 2015
There is no place...
Luke McNitt and Jack Gangwish go down the line thanking Nebraska fans for making the trip.— Mike Schaefer (@mikejschaefer) October 17, 2015
CHAIR! CHAIR! CHAIR!
As far as passing at the end:
Langsdorf said he threw deep on first down in 4Q because 9 men in box and he liked matchup. Too much time left he said to sit on ball.— Brian Rosenthal (@HuskerExtraBR) October 17, 2015
46 –– Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw for three touchdown passes in today’s game, giving him 46 career touchdown passes, moving him into second place on the Nebraska career touchdown pass list. In today’s game he broke a tie with Tommie Frazier (43) and passed Joe Ganz (44) and Zac Taylor (45) on the NU career touchdowns list.
The magical 200 yard rushing mark still means something - even under a pass-first coach:
203 –– Nebraska rushed for 203 yards, marking the Huskers’ third game with more than 200 yards rushing this season (258 vs. South Alabama, 242 vs. Southern Miss). Nebraska has rushed for at least 187 yards in five of seven games this season.
Sam Foltz said he wanted to secure trophy after game but didn't know where it was. He's one of few #Huskers who knew it existed.— Brian Rosenthal (@HuskerExtraBR) October 17, 2015