Throughout the season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers have played every single game with that little bit of haste that makes everyone worry a whole heck of a bunch. However, Saturday night in the Foster Farms Bowl vs. the UCLA Bruins in Santa Clara, California, Nebraska made up just a little bit for a tough year.
Behind 326 yards of rushing as a team and a good night by Tommy Armstrong Jr, your Huskers defeated UCLA by the score of 37-29 in front of just over an announced crowd of 33k in Levi's Stadium on Saturday.
The Huskers (6-7) used a plus turnover ratio and a big win on time of possession to get the game won over a UCLA (8-5) team that seemed to get in their own way throughout the game.
The game started with UCLA going right down the field with a 10 play, 79 yard drive that was helped with a Josh Rosen to Thomas Duarte pass and catch down to the Nebraska 1 yard line. Paul Perkins, who had 4 touches on the drive, punched it in on the next play to make it 7-0 Bruins.
Nebraska decided to answer on their first drive with a 12 play, 75 yard drive for a Touchdown. Imani Cross, who was the feature back with 6 carries on the drive, finished the drive with a 1 yard TD behind Andy Janovich to make it all tied at 7. The Huskers ran it 11 of 12 plays, not counting the Pass Interference on the third play of the drive.
UCLA got the ball back, but punted after a three and out. Nebraska held the ball through the end of the First Quarter, and through the first possession of the Second. However, the drive ended with a Tommy Armstrong Jr. fumble, which should have been taken back from a blatant face mask missed by the officiating crew. UCLA didn't waste time as Rosen nailed Kenneth Walker with a 60 yard bomb for a TD to make it 14-7 UCLA. The drive was only 4 plays but covered 86 yards.
After a three and out by Nebraska, UCLA found the scoreboard once again with a Rosen to Nate Starks TD throw out of the Backfield. UCLA originally missed the Extra Point, but Nebraska was Offside, giving UCLA the chance and the point back to make it 21-7 Bruins.
The Huskers, not fazed by the bad luck on the missed facemask call, went back to work and put the ball in the end zone. 4 plays and 75 yards in 1:32 gave the Huskers a score with a Jordan Westerkamp catch (and late hit) plus a Jamal Turner sighting with a jet sweep. Terrell Newby put the ball in the end zone on the next play after Turner's carry to keep Nebraska within a score at 21-14.
A three and out short of the sticks by UCLA gave the Husker the ball back with 4:23 to go in the half. After a throw from Armstrong to Cethan Carter and a Janovich tote up the middle, Armstrong took it up the middle himself on a zone read for 26 yards. Three plays later, Janovich took a Fullback draw from the 1 and tied up the game at 21.
UCLA got the ball back, and was throwing a screen when Nate Gerry was ejected from the game on what looked like a clean hit, even after review. The very next play, Rosen was intercepted by Joshua Kalu. The Huskers ran one play, and let the clock hit zero to keep it 21 all in Halftime.
Nebraska regrouped after recess to take the ball down the field and put the ball in the end zone. A 9 play, 78 yard drive consisted of 7 runs and 2 passes. Stanley Morgan Jr. caught both thrown balls on the drive, including a one handed 22 yard TD snag for the score. Drew Brown pull hooked the PAT however, and it got to 27-21 Nebraska.
UCLA couldn't do anything with it on the next drive, going three and out. Nebraska didn't stop on the Offensive onslaught, heading right back down the field on a 10 play, 67 yard drive. The drive stalled inside the 5, however, and Drew Brown was good from 20 yards out to make it 30-21 Nebraska.
The Bruins got the ball back, but another three and out gave the Huskers the ball back near midfield. As they finished the Third Quarter and headed to the final one, the Huskers put another TD on the board with 9 plays and 51 yards. Armstrong took the zone read around Right Tackle for the TD, putting the Huskers up 37-21.
UCLA finally found some second half Offense, however, and went down the field on Rosen's arm once again. Jordan Payton caught a fade over Joshua Kalu on the left corner, while Rosen found Duarte for the 2 point conversion to bring it back to 37-29 Nebraska with just over 11 minutes left.
The tide turned as Nebraska could only gain one First Down before having to kick away to UCLA. The Bruins got it down the field on 7 plays, but Rosen lost a shotgun snap and took a loss. To throw a wrench in the Bruin comeback threat, Lou Groza Award winner Ka'imi Fairbairn pushed a Field Goal from 46 yards wide right to give Nebraska the ball back with 5:49 to go.
Nebraska, with the ball, decided to throw on Second Down and run a counter draw with Armstrong, and gained less than nothing. The punt went just past midfield, giving UCLA the ball with 4:40 to go. After 2 first downs, the Bruins had fourth down and Rosen, under much distress, threw a ball into the end zone that Chris Jones caught in the end zone for the interception and touchback.
Nebraska took the ball over at the 20 yard line and just ran the ball. A gritty run for a first down by Armstrong and a end around by Cethan Carter on 3rd and 2 sealed the game for the Huskers.
Nebraska took that 326 yards and finished the game with a even 500 yards of total offense on 81 total plays. Armstrong finished the game 12-19 for 174 yards and 1 TD. Rosen finished the game for the Bruins 26-41 for 319 yards with 3 TD's and 2 interceptions.
Devine Ozigbo led the Huskers with 87 yards on 21 carries, as 9 different ball carriers were labeled for the Huskers. UCLA was led by Paul Perkins with 68 yards on 12 carries.
Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong Jr. was awarded Offensive MVP of the game.
Nebraska finishes the year with a win, and that's never a bad thing. And anytime a season that has had as many valleys finishes on top somewhere, you'll never give it back.