clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nebraska Falls to Northwestern 31-28: Huskers Lose a One-Possession Game (You’re Shocked I Know)

I think we’ve seen this movie before. I still don’t like the ending.

Northwestern Wildcats v Nebraska Cornhuskers - Aer Lingus College Football Classic Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images


Omar Manning is out with a concussion. He’s a dynamic receiver when he can get on the field and I hope he gets better soon.

Anthony Grant earned the nod as the starting running back. I’m very excited to see what he brings. Let’s hope the retooled offensive line opens some holes for him.

First Quarter

OMG OMG a swing pass that gained positive yardage (Thompson to Palmer). What scorcery is this?!?

So, it only took Scott Frost five years to unleash the high tempo offense we were promised. TOUCHDOWN Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda!

Not to be overlooked, the Huskers also nailed the extra point.

Nebraska 7 Northwestern 0

The Blackshirts thus far look stingy against the run. Northwestern’s strength was expected to be the offensive line and running backs. The Wildcats did get past midfield but moved back into their own territory due to a false start. Punt!

The Huskers were backed up to the one yard line behind a great punt. That part stinks, but I prefer seeing that versus a boneheaded catch and run back into the end zone, bobble, fumble or safety.

Okay, let’s see how the offense looks once they run out of scripted plays and backed up in the danger zone.

Jaq Yant comes in for hammer time to carve out some room. Two yards. Punt. That was a very conservative series, but much better than “heroics” that could have led to points for the Wildcat defense.

The Wildcats got the ball near midfield. The Blackshirts (Reimer, Feist and Newsome) were swarming the running backs but Northwestern went to the air and converted a big third and sixth to move near field goal range. Missed tackles are helping the Wildcat offense in finding some rythmn in the passing game. Kolarevic redeemed a missed tackle by making a big TFL. A conservative third down play on third and long led to a purple field goal attempt. Good.

Nebraska 7 Northwestern 3

Breaking news!

Alante Brown sighting! First down as the Huskers move out to the 45 yard line. A long bomb to Palmer falls incomplete (he’s going to cringe when he watches that in film next week). Anthony Grant broke some ankles to get the Huskers into Wildcat territory.

Second Quarter

Casey Thompson running for his life (high snap - DRINK) find Vokolek for a big gain!

Trey Palmer time. First and goal!

First down Anthony Grant.

Second down. Jaq Yant. Funky old school formation gets the ball to the one.

Third down. Yant is short. Facemask on the Wildcats.

Third down part deux. Thompson keeper. TOUCHDOWN!! That play was one Scott Frost called. I don’t think that is in Whipple’s wheelhouse.

Extra point is good!

Nebraska 14 Northwestern 3

A busted coverage led to a WIDE open touchdown for the team in purple.

Nebraska 14 Northwestern 10

Nebraska didn’t get the ball in good position, but a great play by Palmer and a late hit on Northwestern moved Nebraska to their 43. Two incomplete passes later, the offense faced third and 10. VOKOLEK!! The big tight end was wide open and fell victim to the turf monster before any Wildcat touched him. Garcia-Castaneda made a big catch but FUMBLED. Wildcat ball on the 10. Upheld on review. It sure looked like he was down before the ball moved, but there was no angle that allowed a view where it could be overturned.

What should have been a tackle for loss turned into a play where I think every Blackshirt missed a tackle to give the Wildcats some breathing room at the 27. MOAR missed tackles on a screen allow the purple team to get to midfield.

But wait! On third and 12 the short pass doesn’t get anywhere close to the sticks. Punt. Husker ball inside the 10.

On third and three from the 14, Whipple dialed up a quick pass to the tight end Vokolek again. The Wildcats are forgetting about him in the middle of the field. First down. Whenever I see his hair, I think of the “Ride of the Valyries”

Unfortunately, it was for naught as the Huskers had to punt. Northwestern ball at the 17.

The run game doesn’t look great. I’d like to think halftime adjustments can be made, but you can’t fix this easily ...

The Blackshirts forced a fourth and one on the Northwestern 39. Pat Fitzgerald lulled the defense into a sense of ease thinking that they were only tryind to draw them offsides. But the ball was snapped and it was a first down. A few plays later, the purple team had first and goal with just over a minute to play in the half.

Delay of game.

Even with the penalty, you can feel the momentum of the game changing.

Third and goal. 30 seconds.

Wide open touchdown. Again. The Wildcats take their first lead of the day. The pass rush we heard about in fall camp is not a real thing.

Northwestern 17 Nebraska 14

With one timeout and very little time, the Huskers made it to midfield. On third and three with five seconds, Fitzgerald takes a timeout so he can show his team youtube videos of the Kellogg to Westerkamp Hail Mary.

The pass was caught by Washington and out of bounds as the clock expired. The officials put one second back on the clock (he was actually down with two seconds). Will Scott Frost throw the ball or kick field goal?

Brendan Franke’s 56 yard kick is no good. It was a good looking attempt, but went just wide right.

Northwestern 17 Nebraska 14


The Huskers are averaging 2.9 yards per rush attempt. To be fair, the Wildcats are doing much better at 3.5. Both teams are making hay through the air and Nebraska has 230 yards while Northwestern has 215.

  • Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson completed 17-of-24 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown in the first half. The most passing yards for a Husker quarterback in their Nebraska debut is 238 yards by Tanner Lee on Sept. 2, 2017, vs. Arkansas State.
  • Senior tight end Travis Vokolek caught four passes for 54 yards in the first half, bettering his Nebraska highs in both categories. His previous highs at Nebraska were three receptions and 38 receiving yards. His career highs are five catches for 69 yards while playing at Rutgers.
  • Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda caught two passes for 56 yards in his Husker debut, including a 32-yard touchdown catch on his first reception as a Husker. The TD gave Nebraska a 7-0 lead on its opening drive.
  • Receiver Trey Palmer had six receptions in the first half, one shy of his career high while playing at LSU (vs. UCLA, 2021).
  • Punter Brian Buschini averaged 49.0 punts on two punts in his Nebraska debut, including a 51-yard second-quarter punt.

Third Quarter

The Blackshirts forced a punt on the opening possession of the second half.

Travis Vokolek is having a career day. (Unfortnately, so is Northwestern’s QB).

I DO NOT BELIEVE CASEY THOMPSON DID THAT. I was absolutely expecting a boneheaded turnover, but he scrambled (and I mean SCRAMBLED) to find ICG wide open. Neither player gave up on the play and it went for a big gain.

FYI - that ball took 11 seconds to throw. The Huskers are in the red zone!!

Then, a self-sack (turf monster) on second and seven, brought up third and 16. Pass interference!! It was a bit ticky tack, but one that most refs are going to throw the flag for.

First and goal (nine yard line). Anthony Grant for five. The line showed much better presence in opening up holes for their back.

Second and goal. Again on the ground and a Husker TOUCHDOWN!!!!

That Casey Thompson to ICG play will go down as one that made a huge difference. I know I didn’t expect a positive outcome on that throw. How about you?

Another fun observation. Mark Whipple seemed pretty damn determined to run the ball on that goal line series. He challenged the o-line and they responded. Me likey.

Nebraska 21 Northwestern 17

What looked like a bad play by the Blackshirts (it was) turned into a positive when NORTHWESTERN FUBMLED!!!!!! Buford forced the fumbled and Caleb Tannor appeared to be the one who recovered (Newsome was right there too).

The home run intended for Brown ball fell incomplete (IT WAS TOTALLY PASS INTERFERENCE).

NO WORRIES, ANTHONY GRANT’S GOT THIS! Now, it is the Wildcats missing tackles.

Nebraska 28 Northwestern 17

Scott Frost called for the onside kick but it was recovered by the Wildcats. Let’s just get competent special teams play before trying tricky stuff, m’kay. Please?

The Wildcats got the ball on the Husker side of the field and quickly moved to first and goal.

Northwestern touchdown. The Wildcats had to burn a timeout to avoid a delay of game. As close as these teams tend to play, that could turn out to be big later.

Nebraska 28 Northwestern 24

Three and out for the Huskers. Even worse, Vokolek went down with an injury.

The Blackshirts force a fourth and one. Will Fitzgerald try it again?

No he won’t. He takes a delay of game penalty rather than taking the second timeout.

Huskers take over on their 35 yard line.

Another home run ball sailed over the head of Palmer. He was WIDE OPEN but Thompson couldn’t connect. Third and five netted three. That one is one the receiver as he didn’t get past the sticks.That led to a fourth and two for the Huskers and a punt.

Fun fact. Both teams have 104 rushing yards.

On third and 10 at their 25, the Wildcats connect for a huge gain across midfield and the lack of pass rush rears its ugly head again. Masterful play calling in mixing the run and pass (with a heavy dose of run) is keeping the Blackshirts on their heels and the Wildcats are in the red zone.

A false start on third and two moved the Wildcats back five yards.

Fourth Quarter

Conservative play turned into a blunder for Northwestern. One fourth and five, the Wildcats attempted a 36 yard field goal. NO GOOD.

Nebraska 28 Northwestern 24

Ajay Allen is in at running back and promptly gains eight. BRODY BELT first down!!

MOAR Belt gets Nebraska past midfield.

Near interception thrown by Thompson. Whew. He had an open receiver underneath but threw into double coverage instead. He didn’t learn and was picked on the next play. The ball went right through Oliver Martin’s hands to the Wildcat DB.

Okay. One score game. Fourth quarter. Turnover.

I would write a novel about that, but no one would believe it because that can’t possibly happen.

The Wildcats quickly move into the red zone. The Blackshirts have given up a couple of third and 10’s.

First and goal. Touchdown.

Northwestern 31 Nebraska 28

Logan Smothers is in at QB. The option keeper nets seven plus a facemask on the Wildcats.

Casey Thompson is back and nearly throws a pick. Again.

That was followed by a sack. Nebraska is imploding in the fourth quarter.

Northwestern gets the ball on their 15.

The Blackshirts force a three and out. The run game for the Wildcats has been good, but that was a very conservative set of play calls - three runs up the middle. Even a gassed Husker defense could get enough push to stop that.

The Husker got good field position, but lost many yards on the first play from scrimmage. That was followed by an incompletion and we have third and 15. The conservative play calling on the previous serious looks like a winning strategy for the purple team.

Casey Thompson completed the pass but it was short. On fourth and six, Frost punts. There are under seven minutes left in the game. The Huskers down it at the five.

The Wildcats call three more runs up the middle wiht the third one breaking through for a big first down. Tick Tock. The clock is at 4:30.

Another first down up the middle. That is the tenth run play in a row.

Make that eleven runs. Nine more yards. Tick. Tock.

More runs and more time off the clock. Nebraska calls a timeout with 2:31 left.

On fourth and seven at the Husker 41, the Wildcats tried to draw Nebraska offsides but took the delay of game (declined). They ended up punting to Oliver Martin (the safe guy). A tremendous punt bounced away from the goal line and was downed at the three.


After an incomplete pass Trey Palmer shows some moxie, breaking tackles and getting out of bounds for the first down. 1:45 left.

Interception over the middle.

The more things change. The more they stay the same.

Final. Northwestern 31 Nebraska 28