Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has to be running out of ways to explain why his team is still looking for win No. 1 in Frost’s first season back at his alma mater after being hired away from UCF.
After Saturday, the questions will continue to come, with no answers that will satisfy the Big Red Nation.
The Cornhuskers blew a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead and lost to Northwestern in overtime on a 37-yard Drew Luckenbaugh field goal, the 34–31 loss dropping their record to 0–6 for the first time in school history and giving the Wildcats their first home win of the season.
Northwestern had made a habit of blowing sizable leads in losses to Akron and Michigan in the first half of the season. This time, after falling behind 28–14 early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats struck quickly with a 61-yard Flynn Nagel touchdown reception and later put together a 15-play drive to cut the lead to seven with a 31-yard field goal by Luckenbaugh.
Nebraska, which has lost 10 games in a row, went three-and-out on its next possession, but pinned Northwestern down at its one-yard line with an excellent punt by Isaac Armstrong. But a roughing the passer call on Nebraska on the first play of the drive promptly gave the Wildcats room to work.
Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson then went to work, completed passes of 32 and 27 yards to drive the Wildcats the length of the field in just one minute and 50 seconds and tied the score with a five-yard touchdown pass to JJ Jefferson with 12 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Nebraska got the ball first and, instead of attempting to kick a manageable 33-yard field goal, went for it on fourth down. Quarterback Adrian Martinez ended up fumbling the snap and scrambling around before throwing an interception in the end zone.
Northwestern ran three plays before Luckenbaugh’s game-winning kick.
Nebraska did everything it needed to win the game, putting up 482 yards of total offense and getting an efficient game from Martinez, who had 251 yards passing and 37 yards rushing.
While the defense forced two turnovers and allowed only 32 yards rushing, Thorson was able to throw it all over the field, completing 41 of his 64 passes for 455 yards and three touchdowns. The Huskers’ secondary also had issues with Nagel, who torched them with 12 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wildcats, who have won 10 of their last 11 Big Ten games, are still in the thick of the Big Ten West race. Their biggest game is against Wisconsin on Oct. 27 and finish up the conference slate with road trips to Iowa and Minnesota and the season finale at home against Illinois.
Nebraska has Minnesota at home next week and plays FCS Bethune-Cookman after that. If the Cornhuskers exit October winless in spite of that dip in quality of competition, Frost may have a real crisis on his hands.