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Nebraska football writer Parker Gabriel offers his extra points from Nebraska's 34-31 overtime loss at Northwestern.
Turning point: The 99-yard drive is an obvious one, but the 61-yard drive just before set Northwestern up to make its comeback. The Wildcats covered that ground in 15 plays but used just 3 minutes, 15 seconds and didn’t burn a timeout. Knowing they needed two scores, Pat Fitzgerald opted for a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 13.
Next came the three-and-out for the Husker offense, and you know how it goes after that.
It was over when: Walk-on kicker Drew Luckenbaugh’s 37-yard attempt left his foot in overtime. It was right down the middle. Never a doubt once he put a good swing on the ball.
Quotable: Nebraska senior linebacker Luke Gifford on the loss:
“At this point, the ‘rah-rah’ stuff has got to go. I think we’ve passed that point. Like Coach Frost said, have made a turning point and I think we’re on the way up, but these are the types of games that we have to finish. We’re close. We’re really close, but that can’t happen for us to take those next steps.”
Game ball: Flynn Nagel was a problem for the Huskers all day. The senior receiver had 220 yards receiving on 12 catches, with 132 of it coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. Nebraska simply didn’t have an answer for Nagel.
Game ball: Clayton Thorson turned the ball over twice in the second half but also made enough plays to get his team a win. The senior signal-caller completed 41 passes for 455 yards and three touchdowns. Defenses know the Wildcats can’t run the ball and Thorson still put up huge numbers with decent efficiency.
Notable performance: Nebraska senior running back Devine Ozigbo had a big night for the second time in the past three weeks, rushing 22 times for 159 yards and a pair of scores. Two weeks ago against Purdue, Ozigbo rushed for 170 before logging just five carries against Wisconsin.
Ozigbo is on pace for 996 yards and 10 touchdowns for the season.
Deep connection: Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez hit JD Spielman for a 42-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game, giving the pair another long scoring strike. Last week, Spielman caught a 75-yard score. He now has six touchdown grabs on the year.
Numbers for the road
357: Days between Nebraska wins when the Huskers next take the field, at home against Minnesota.
14: Losses against just four wins since the beginning of the 2017 season. Since NU started 7-0 in 2016, its record is 6-18.
9: Penalties for Nebraska, which surprisingly is its lowest total of the season. Two — a roughing the passer on Carlos Davis and a false start on Boe Wilson — came at absolutely critical junctures for the Huskers.
97: Yards on a 15-play scoring drive for Nebraska to start the third quarter after an Antonio Reed interception. Somehow, it was only the second-longest scoring drive of the day.
244: Yards for the Wildcats in the fourth quarter. That includes 254 passing. Yes, you read that correctly.
1.4: Yards per carry for Northwestern. Nebraska averaged 4.9.
2: Interceptions for Nebraska, doubling its season output.
Minus 7: Turnover margin on the season for the Huskers after losing the battle again Saturday, 3-2.
Plus 12: Average starting field position advantage on Saturday for the Huskers (own 33 vs. own 21), the first time they’ve won that battle this season.
Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.
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