Huskers Disappoint in “Inexcusable” Loss at Northwestern

Huskers Disappoint in “Inexcusable” Loss at Northwestern

Coach Scott Frost said earlier in the week that he thought his team was “ready to turn a big time corner”. That corner just wasn’t in Evanston Saturday.

Nebraska (0-2) dominated the day with more first downs (28-14), rushing yards (224-148), passing yards (218-169), and total offense (442-317). But repeatedly the Huskers hurt themselves with penalties (9 for 55) and missed opportunities deep in Northwestern (3-0) territory.

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez throws a pass during the 21-13 loss to Northwestern Saturday. Martinez finished 12-for-27 through the air for 125 yard and an interception, adding 13 carries for 105 yards on the ground. (Photo by John Konstantaras)

“We didn’t play a disciplined-enough game. It’s inexcusable that we only had 13 points in that game,” Frost said. “I give a ton of credit to them. They’re always good on defense, they did a good job. To play like we played and only have 13 points, that starts with me.”

Nebraska started with the ball and immediately got more touches with Dedrick Mills and Wan’Dale Robinson, both of whom had less than 10 rushing or receiving attempts against Ohio State. But once inside the Northwestern 30, a false start followed by a holding penalty back up Big Red too much to overcome, leading to the first of five punts from Will Przstup.

Northwestern easily drove to a touchdown on their first drive to take a 7-0 lead.

Late in the first quarter and up to halftime was the best offensive production for scoring points, though more were left on the field. Connor Culp made field goals of 38 and 36 yards to cut the deficit to one but missed on the next possession from 38 yards out.

Nebraska running back Dedrick Mills stretches for the goal line in the second quarter against Northwestern. Mills rushed a team-high 19 times for 70 yards and a touchdown while catching a team-high six passes for 33 yards. (Photo by John Konstantaras)

The second Myles Farmer of the day set up Nebraska at the three of Northwestern where Mills punched it in to give the Huskers a 13-7 lead that would hold into halftime.

The Wildcats scored on their first possession of the second half just like the first to retake the lead. Nebraska threatened three times, including getting into the red zone twice, but both Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey threw interceptions.

“We made too many mistakes against a good team,” Frost said. “We gotta get that fixed. I gotta get that fixed.”

Northwestern held on to win the game by a 21-13 margin.

The Huskers were without center Cam Jurgens so Matt Farniok slid over to deliver snaps. Despite shuffling on the line and the offense lacking in push for most of the game, the production via yards was there. But of the six drives into the red zone, Nebraska scored on just three of them.

Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey breaks off a run in the fourth quarter of Saturdays loss at Northwestern. Despite leading just a couple drives late in the game, McCaffrey ran for 66 yards on eight carries and completed 12-of-16 passes for 93 yards. (Photo by John Konstantaras)

“Offensively, we had the ball down there (in the red zone),” Frost said. “We gotta punch it in. To come away with 13 points is inexcusable and that’s my fault.”

Luke Reimer made his season debut after missing the season opener in Columbus. Reimer led the team with 10 tackles and had the only sack for a Blackshirts defense that was without defensive backs Cam Taylor-Britt and Deontai Williams for the first half. Will Honas was also missing on the day with an injury.

The biggest question for Nebraska heading into the home opener against Penn State (0-3) is who will be taking the snaps. Both Martinez and McCaffrey threw interceptions Saturday and both had fumbles against Ohio State. The body of work is deeper for the incumbent, but a restless fan base that has hoped to see more results in year three of the Frost era seems ready for any change that might lead to more wins.

The Huskers and Nittany Lions kickoff at 11 a.m. next Saturday, November 14.

Game Notes  

  • Saturday’s game was decided by eight points, the eighth time in 10 meetings between the schools as Big Ten members have been decided by eight points or less.
  • Four Huskers made their first career start in today’s game, including Ethan Piper (LG), Luke Reimer (ILB), Myles Farmer (S) and Quinton Newsome (CB). Senior offensive lineman Matt Farniok made his first career start at center and has started games at tackle, guard and center in his career.
  • Redshirt freshman safety Myles Farmer recorded his first career interception in the second quarter to set up a Nebraska field goal. He added a second pick in the quarter, returning it 37 yards to the Northwestern 3 to set up a Dedrick Mills touchdown. Farmer also had three solo tackles.
  • Farmer is the first Husker to have two interceptions in a game since Eric Lee Jr. had two interception in the 2019 season opener against South Alabama.
  • Senior running back Dedrick Mills scored on a 3-yard run in the second quarter. It marks the fifth time in the past six games Mills has had at least one rushing touchdown.
  • Junior tight end Austin Allen had a 25-yard reception in the first quarter. It marked his second reception of at least 25 yards this season and five of Allen’s 13 career catches have covered at least 20 yards.
  • True freshman receiver Marcus Fleming had the first five catches of his career and finished with five catches for 75 yards.  He had three receptions for 47 yards in the first half, including a 28-yard catch.
  • True freshman receiver Zavier Betts had the first two catches of his career, both coming in the fourth quarter.
  • Quarterback Adrian Martinez threw for 125 yards in today’s game and moved past Jerry Tagge into sixth place on the Nebraska career passing chart. Martinez now has 4,803 career passing yards.  Martinez also went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth time of his career with 102 yards on 13 carries. It was his first 100-yard rushing game since last season at Illinois.
  • Martinez’s 100-yard game was the 500th individual 100-yard rushing game in school history.
  • Luke Reimer finished with career highs in tackle (10) and tackles-for-loss. Reimer, who did not play at Ohio State because of injury, entered the season with just 11 tackles. His previous career high was four stops at Maryland last season.
  • Nebraska scored 10 points off turnovers in today’s game, marking the seventh time under Scott Frost the Huskers have scored 10 or more points off turnovers.
  • Connor Culp connected on field goals of 38 and 36 yards in the second quarter, before missing a 38-yarder.  He is now 3-of-4 on the season. The 38-yard field goal is the second-longest field goal for Nebraska in the past two seasons, trailing only a 41-yarder vs. Iowa in 2019.
  • Sophomore receiver Wan’Dale Robinson caught four passes for 32 yards in today’s game, increasing his career receptions total to 50. Robinson is the second fastest Husker to reach 50 career receptions, doing so in his 12th career game. JD Spielman reached the mark in 11 games, while Nate Swift also caught his 50th pass in his 12th career game.
  • Northwestern gained 80 yards on its opening drive and 54 yards in the remainder of the first half, including just 23 yards in the second quarter.  On the day, Nebraska out-gained Northwestern, 442-317.

Feature Image by John Konstantaras