Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Bullet Points: Nebraska 35 Indiana 21

October 01, 2022

It was weird, not all the pretty, but it was the thing Nebraska needed most. On Oct. 2, 2022, the Huskers beat a Big Ten team for the first time since an Oct. 1, 2021, win over Northwestern as Nebraska (2-3, 1-1) endured a second-quarter flurry from Indiana (3-2, 1-1) but came out on top agains the Hoosiers, 35-21, at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Nebraska, in what might qualify as a trend at this point, opened the game strong, forcing a three-and-out on Indiana’s first drive and answering with a three-play touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead. Through much chaos, the Huskers would eventually build the lead to 21-7 in the first half before two Hoosier drives that really pushed the tempo left things tied at halftime.

The two teams traded turnovers near the start of the second half before a fourth-quarter, 71-yard bomb from quarterback Casey Thompson to wide receiver Trey Palmer finally gave Nebraska some breathing room. The Huskers, leaning heavily on five straight runs from running back Anthony Grant, would extend the lead to 35-21 to seal their first Big Ten win in 364 days.

Grant finished with 136 yards rushing, his fourth game in five this season with 100-plus yards. Palmer had eight catches for 157 yards with a touchdown and Thompson but up another efficient performance, completing 18-of-27 passes for 270 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Defensively, the Huskers allowed just 71 yards and zero points in the second half. On to some notes and observations from Nebraska’s 35-21 win.

  • For the fourth time in five games, Nebraska’s offense scored a brisk, crisp touchdown on its first drive. The Huskers needed just three plays to go 73 yards against Indiana. On the season, Nebraska is averaging 11.1 yards per play and 1.0 points per play on opening drives.
  • This game got bonkers in the second quarter. After taking a sack on the Huskers’ last play of the first quarter, Thompson took a seat for a drive. Insert Chubba Purdy on the Huskers’ own 5-yard line. Two plays later, he was sacked in the end zone and fumbled for an Indiana touchdown. Tie game, despite the Hoosiers’ offense struggling to do much of anything at that point. And then…
  • Nebraska linebacker Chris Kolarevic blocks a punt, scooped up and returned for a touchdown by true freshman cornerback Malcom Hartzog. It was the Huskers’ first blocked punt for a touchdown since 2009, the second blocked punt of the season for Nebraska and Hartzog’s first start of his career. And then…
  • After forcing its sixth straight punt to open the first half, and its fourth three-and-out, Nebraska gets a solid punt return from Palmer and then goes 55 yards in eight plays to take a 21-7 lead. And then…
  • Indiana’s offense comes alive. It goes 75 yards in six plays for a touchdown. On the ensuing drive, starting left tackle Turner Corcoran gets unsportsmanlike penalties on back-to-back plays, resulting in his ejection and a Husker punt. The Hoosiers need just six plays again to go 70 yards and tie the game at 21 going into the half. Indiana had 219 yards at the half and 66.2% of them came on the final two drives.
  • You thought bonkers was over? Incorrect. On Indiana’s first drive of the second half, following a Nebraska punt, Husker linebacker Luke Reimer delivered a devastating hit on receiver Javon Swinton, jarring the ball loose and catching it, against Swinton’s body, before it could hit the ground for an interception. It was the second interception of Reimer’s career. And then…Nebraska threw an interception, at the Indiana 1-yard line, on the next play.
  • With less than 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Nebraska was whistled for a false start, the 19th combined penalty in the game. That was already the most in a Big Ten game this season. The Huskers were flagged for holding on the next play. The two teams combined for 23 penalties.
  • Following his 71-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, Palmer, an LSU transfer, topped 100 yards receiving in a game for the first time in his career. His best with the Tigers was a five-catch, 64-yard game in the regular-season finale against Texas A&M last season. Palmer’s previous best at Nebraska was 10 catches for 92 yards in the loss to Oklahoma.
  • Grant has rushed for exactly 600 yards through five games (5.3 per carry).
  • Loyal listeners for the I-80 Preview podcast will already know I thought Nebraska’s best path to a comfortable win was to average between 4.5 and 5.0 yards per carry rushing. The Huskers didn’t, and the game didn’t feel all that comfortable until the fourth quarter. The second key was defense in general––and the 306 yards allowed were a season-low, in Bill Busch’s first game as defensive coordinator––but specifically third-down conversions. Indiana entered the game converting 47.2%, 31st nationally, but managed just 13.3% (2-of-15) on Saturday.
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