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Northwestern was Simply Too Physical in Ireland and Nebraska Didn’t Like It

Getting embarrassed on both sides of the line of scrimmage against Northwestern doesn’t bode will for Nebraska.

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

This could be a long season my friends.

No, it won’t be because Nebraska lost in week zero for various reasons including a mind-numbing onside kick attempt.

It could be a long season because Nebraska’s vaunted Blackshirt defense gave up 527 total yards to Northwestern. Nebraska’s defensive line was embarrassed. If Nebraska was hoping to hug a lot of air then boy were they successful.

It’s a disappointing showing for this Nebraska defense. Give credit to Northwestern but it was the hope that Nebraska’s defense would benefit from five years of consistency in the defensive coordinator to hold down the fort until the offense can figure some things out.

That was far from what happened on Saturday. The defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs whiffed, woofed and waffed all game long. Is waffed even a word? I don’t care, you get the point.

When asked about Northwestern’s run game Garrett Nelson said, “I don’t have a magical answer besides that just can’t happen. That’s not how you win Big Ten football.”

I don’t have the magical answer either. My only hope is that getting blown off the ball was nothing that can’t be fixed through film and practice. My concern is that this defensive line is going to get run on all season and there is nothing Nebraska’s offense can do about it.

One solution would be if Nebraska could run the ball.

They couldn’t. There were a couple of gash runs here or there but if you take away the 46 yard touchdown run by Anthony Grant then Nebraska has 65 total rushing yards on 30 carries which amounts to 2.16 yards per carry.

There isn’t much this coaching staff is going to be able to do to turn this thing around if Nebraska’s offensive and defensive lines continue to get embarrassed.

If moving the line of scrimmage was difficult against Northwestern then what should we expect when Nebraska goes up against Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa?

The Morning After

Nebraska vs. Northwestern score: Scott Frost's Cornhuskers blow double-digit lead, Wildcats prevail in Ireland -
For the second straight season, Nebraska dropped a season-opening game against a Big Ten opponent in excruciating fashion, blowing not one, but two double-digit leads in a 31-28 loss to Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland. Routinely on the wrong end of close games, the Cornhuskers now fall to 5-21 in one-score affairs under fifth-year coach Scott Frost.

Instant takes from Nebraska's opening loss to Northwestern in Ireland - On3
Here are three instant takes from Nebraska's crushing 31-28 loss to Northwestern in the Aer Lingus Classic in Dublin, Ireland

Nebraska's head-scratching onside kick proves costly for Scott Frost in loss to Northwestern -
Already entering the 2022 season on one of the hottest seats in college football, Nebraska coach Scott Frost didn't earn himself any goodwill with his decision-making during the second half of a 31-28 loss to Northwestern at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

Report Card: Another embarrassment for Nebraska
For the fourth time in five seasons Nebraska football is 0-1 to start a year. The Huskers have no where else to look but internally as the team was unable to hold multiple double-digit leads and struggled in almost every phase of the game.

Fast Takes after a Husker bummer of a performance
You can't believe these things and Husker fans know not to do so.

But Nebraska was an 89.9 percent favorite by at least one outlet's math to beat Northwestern on Saturday when Anthony Grant ripped off a 46-yard touchdown. For the second time on Saturday the Huskers led by 11, this time midway through the third quarter.

Northwestern rallies past Nebraska in Dublin, handing Cornhuskers seventh consecutive defeat
Ryan Hilinski threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns to help Northwestern rally for a 31-28 victory over Nebraska in Saturday's season opener in Ireland.

Northwestern handed the Cornhuskers their seventh consecutive loss going back to last season -- with all seven loses coming by single digits -- and added more pressure on embattled coach Scott Frost.

Nebraska QB Thompson draws praise from Frost, but the coach makes clear that the Texas transfer faces a learning curve in the Big Ten - On3
Casey Thompson is an avowed perfectionist, an enthusiastic student of football.

He wasn’t perfect in his debut with Nebraska on Saturday — perfection really isn’t feasible for any quarterback — although he certainly had his moments, particularly during the first half.

Steven Sipple: It's not even September, and an unpleasant conversation regarding Nebraska's 2022 football season already is upon us - On3
So, here we are, already having this unpleasant conversation.

Yes, we’re absolutely having this godawful dialogue, which is especially godawful considering it’s not even September yet.

Husker D-line bullied by physical Northwestern rushing attack
Nebraska’s offensive and defensive lines were both points of concern for the Huskers heading into the 2022 season, and in the opener with Northwestern, the Wildcats found superiority at the line of scrimmage.

The Wildcats ran for 214 yards on the ground in the game, and while the longest run of the day for Northwestern were a pair of 21 yarders by Northwestern’s Evan Hull and Cam Porter, the Wildcats got plenty done on the ground on their 47 carries.

Mathis talks Husker struggles and onside kick impact; wants to 'bring some positivity' as team moves forward
As a defender you're just thinking about doing your job on the next snap, whether the ball is on your side's 44 or the opponent's own 25. The latter is much preferred, but Ochaun Mathis wasn't exactly rocked by it when Nebraska's failed onside kick attempt occurred Saturday.

In the aftermath of the Husker 31-28 loss to Northwestern, however, he understood why it was such a focal point.

Rapid Reaction: Wildcats down Huskers 31-28 in season opener across the pond - Inside NU
Well, that was everything college football fans asked for and more.

There’s nothing better than an offensive shootout to open the season, and luckily for Northwestern fans, the ‘Cats did what many thought they couldn’t do. In classic bend-don’t-break fashion, Pat Fitzgerald emerged victorious in his 200th appearance as head coach of the ‘Cats, handing Scott Frost and Nebraska a 31-28 loss in the 2022 season’s opening contest.