It finally happened.
Nebraska has won a football game in 2018.
In beating Minnesota (3-4, 0-4 Big Ten) 53-28, the Huskers (1-6, 1-4 Big Ten) snapped what was a 10-game losing streak dating back to last season and the worst skid to open a season in program history.
Time to exhale.
Because there sure was a lot of Husker nation holding its breath in the second half of Saturday’s contest.
Nebraska opened up a 28-0 lead early on thanks to an offense that finally started stringing some drives together. Led by a red-hot Devine Ozigbo on the ground, Nebraska scored on three of its first four drives and took a 28-8 lead into the halftime break.
Minnesota made a quarterback change, moving from true freshman Zack Annexstad to redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan, and the new guy responded by ripping the Huskers early in the second half. He hit five of his first six passes for 123 yards and led back-to-back scoring drives to cut what was once a four-score lead to just six points
A week ago, Nebraska took a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and couldn’t close the book. In the opener, the Huskers had a one-point lead late against Colorado and couldn’t seal the deal. They were both billed as teachable moments, opportunities to learn from.
The Huskers weren’t going to let Saturday end the same.
It started with a Minnesota drive that went deep into Husker territory and ended with a fourth-and-goal incompletion from the 3-yard-line. Corner Dicaprio Bootle was in the right place and the right time and forced a breakup.
Nebraska then went 82 yards and bled off seven minutes of clock all while stretching its lead to 17 with a field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Minnesota returned the ball 87 yards to the Husker 13-yard-line. Minnesota picked up 6 yards on a first down and handed the ball right back to Nebraska on second down. Bootle, again in the right place at the right time, deflected a slant pass into the arms of linebacker Dedrick Young II.
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) October 20, 2018
Quarterback Adrian Martinez hit wideout Stanley Morgan Jr. three plays later for a 67-yard touchdown; 46-22 Nebraska at that point, Scott Frost’s first win in NU gear secured.
The Husker offense again rolled, piling up a season-high 664 yards of offense on the day. It marked the best day a Nebraska offense has had since putting up 784 yards of offense against FAU on Aug. 30, 2014, and the fourth consecutive game of at least 480 yards of offense for the first time since 2000.
Martinez went 25-for-29 for 276 yards and three touchdowns passing, with another 125 yards and a score on the ground. Morgan caught 10 of those balls for a season-high 163 yards and two touchdowns.
On the ground, Nebraska boasted three 100-yard rushers for just the fifth time in school history. Martinez had his day, Ozigbo led everyone with 152 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and freshman Maurice Washington added another 109 yards and a score on 14 carries. As a team, Nebraska topped 400 yards on the ground if you take out the kneel-down to end the game.
Oh, and Nebraska won the penalty battle for the first time all season. Minnesota was flagged eight times for 80 yards. The Huskers were flagged just six times for 43 yards, both season lows.
Nebraska is back in action next week when it hosts FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman for an 11 a.m. CT kick.
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.