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Report Card: Northwestern Wildcats 30, Huskers 28

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There was running room earlier in the game...
There was running room earlier in the game...
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Last week at Minnesota, Nebraska used a 60/40 run/pass ratio to spark a big road victory that had everybody all smiles. Afterwards, Mike Riley said ""But I think that was a picture of what we need balance-wise."

Lesson learned, right?

Wrong. Ignore what the head coach said, because actions speak louder than words.  In the first quarter, Nebraska ran the ball nine times and threw the ball 14 times.  60/40 thus became 38/62. And that was at the start of the game: it was precisely how Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf planned to start the game.  It's how they prepared this team.

Want more evidence?  Nine times, Nebraska faced a third down needing four or fewer yards.  They ran the ball three times - and gained three first downs.  Oh, and scored a touchdown too.  But passing in those situations?  One for six, with that interception.

And when you look at that, it's no surprise that Nebraska found yet another way to lose a very winnable football game.  A fifth loss. The albatross of four losses each and every year is finally over.  But now, Nebraska must now find a way to win three of the four remaining games to just keep the season alive into December.  Road games at Purdue and Rutgers, and home games against No. 7 Michigan State and No. 12 Iowa.  That's a scenario that nobody would have even contemplated prior to the season.

Yes, the five losses are by 13 points. But it's still five losses.

Below is the report card by position. As always, your comments are always welcome in the comments.

QB: Can we all agree that asking Tommy Armstrong to throw 48 passes is asking for big trouble on offense?  Armstrong wasn't horrible - though that pick-six certainly was. He wasn't helped by his offensive coordinator or his receivers on this day, but he did throw for 291 yards.  Grade:  C-

I-Back: I almost want to grade them with an incomplete. Terrell Newby was averaging 4.2 yards a carry in the first half. While that's not great, that should have been enough to keep the chains moving on offense.  More help from the offensive line would have helped here.   Grade: C

Wide Receivers: Brandon Reilly did come down with a late circus catch to keep the Huskers chances alive...but there were way too many drops (hi Cethan Carter) and bad routes run (hello Jamal Turner) from this group. Simply not one of their better days.  Grade: D

Offensive Line: Mike Cavanaugh's no-substitution philosophy has a noble purpose in building chemistry. But sometimes, like against Northwestern, it can be taken too far. Northwestern's offense was inept for most of the first half, so Nebraska built an incredible lead in time of possession. But as the second half went on, it was Nebraska's offensive line that was exhausted due to lack of substitutions, and Northwestern's defensive line (starting with Dean Lowry) seized control.  It didn't help when the right tackle gets spun like the turnstiles at gate 14. Maybe you might try somebody else - perhaps a guy who split time at the position (starting three games) that's now riding the bench at defensive tackle now.  Grade: D-

Defensive Line: I thought the defensive line more than held their own in the first half, except on those two busted contains:  117 yards on those two Clayton Thorson scrambles, 11 yards the rest of the half. But in the second half, Justin Jackson did gain a respectable 35 yards.  Grade: B-

Linebackers: In the second half, Northwestern had a field day on Nebraska's linebacking corps. Dedrick Young was victimized on Dan Vitale's game-winning touchdown catch, and Josh Banderas got roasted more than once underneath as well. Is he really ready to play, or simply healthier than Chris Weber? Michael Rose-Ivey did get into the game late in relief, but the damage was done. Grade: D-

Secondary: Coverage sack for a safety? There's a play by the secondary that we haven't seen in a while! Granted, Northwestern's receivers weren't much of a threat going in, but still, it's nice to no longer have the nation's worst pass defense. (Now ranked 125th!  Woo hoo!)  Grade: C

Special Teams: Having a full-time special teams coordinator is paying off huge dividends - not. Northwestern gained 147 yards on seven kick returns; Nebraska just 37 on four returns.  And just what the heck was Jordan Stevenson doing running laterally on that kickoff return?  Just awful. Salvaging this grade was Sam Foltz's 50.7 punting average and Drew Brown's two long field goals.  Grade: D+

Overall:  D+ Very winnable game that once again turns into a loss. There's a reason why this year, Nebraska is losing the close games instead of pulling them out, like in the past.

Elsewhere in College Football

Georgia Tech:  A  Good thing the Tech players ignored Paul Johnson's directive to stay away from the blocked field goal at the end of the game.

Oklahoma State: A  Hard to keep your mind on football after the horrible drunk driver crash at the homecoming parade.

Miami: 0  Time to land the planes. It's over.