If a loss to Oregon a week ago was disappointing, Nebraska (1-2) losing at home to Northern Illinois (2-1) 21-17 has to feel embarrassing.
And in an almost identical situation to that Ducks game, the Huskers had the ball late in the fourth quarter with the chance to tie the game with a touchdown. After two sacks and another interception, the Huskers were hearing boos from a Nebraska fan base that was rushing out of the stadium.
Quarterback Tanner Lee threw two first-quarter picks that resulted in pick-sixes for the Huskies and, despite 201 yards of total offense in the first half and just 88 yards surrendered by the defense, trailed 14-0 after 30 minutes of play.
As has been the case for much of this season, the Huskers found their footing in the third quarter. They played turnover-free football on the offensive end, the defense continued to play shutout football and the Huskers scored 10 points in the frame.
They’re now outscoring opponents 31-0 in the third quarter over the first three games of the season.
Without starting running back Tre Bryant – out with a knee injury – the offense turned to Lee as a passer. He threw it a season-high 47 times for 299 yards with three interceptions and two scores. Both of Lee’s touchdowns came on the ground in close to the end zone, with the first coming on a scramble where Lee turned nothing into something.
The interceptions were a major issue in the first half, and again on the final possession, as Lee struggled to make the correct decision when facing pressure. But the offensive line struggled mightily to keep the Huskies’ pass rush at bay. The Huskies finished the game with three sacks and seven hurries.
The defense did its part, holding the Huskies to 253 yards on the day, and the Nebraska offense racked up 384 yards on its own, but more third down struggles (6-for-19 on the day), penalties (5 for 48 yards) and turnovers (three total) does not a recipe for winning make.
Nebraska will look to right the ship on Sep. 23 when it opens Big Ten play against Rutgers at home.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.