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Nebraska Loses To Illinois 14-13 In Another Heartbreaker

Nebraska lead Illinois 10-0 at half, but could manage only a field goal in the second half as the Illini came back with two touchdowns to win in the final ten seconds.

The Huskers lead 13-7 and had a third down with 55 seconds left in Illinois territory. Illinois had no timeouts. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr rolled left on a bootleg, then fired an incomplete pass to Devine Ozigbo. As a result, Illinois got the ball back with time left to move down the field against Nebraska's poor secondary. In the post game presser, Mike Riley said the playcall was for a quarterback run without a pass option, meaning that Armstrong improvised.

The third down call will be debated for the rest of Nebraska football history, but it was not one play that lost this game. A far better debate will be had wondering why offensive coordinator continued to have Armstrong throw the ball when it was clear Nebraska was struggling in the passing game.

Armstrong finished the game 10-for-30 for 105 yards; a 3.4 yard per attempt average. Nebraska ran the ball 34 times for 187 yards, or 5.5 yards per carry. Devin Ozigbo had seven carries for 70 yards and a touchdown, while Andy Janovich ran 11 times for 47 yards.

Given that some of the rushing attempts were the result of Armstrong scrambling out of the pocket, the run/pass ration for this game is around 50/50; this on a day when the wind was clearly causing problems in the passing game AND when it was clear that Illinois had taken away the short-medium throws, forcing Armstrong to chuck the ball up on low-percentage long balls.

Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf couldn't help but call pass plays despite his team picking up nine of their 12 first downs by rushing.

The good news for most of the game was that Illinois' offense wasn't much better.

Illini quarterback Wes Lunt finished 23-for-45 for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn finished with 110 yards on 24 carries after Josh Ferguson left the game early with an injury.

The bad news for the Huskers was that the Illini offense was just good enough. Good enough to win when the game was on the line.

When Nebraska learns how to do that, things will turn around. Until then, each game will be a crapshoot.