Nebraska and Northwestern put on a show for the Emerald Isle crowd in Ireland Saturday in their season openers. The Wildcats prevailed 31-28.
It was a back and forth affair through the first half, with Northwestern heading to the locker room ahead 17-14. Nebraska stormed back on to the field in the third quarter and found the end zone twice.
A massive turning point came when Nebraska attempted an onside kick with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter and a 28-17 lead.
Nebraska’s failure to recover the onside handed the Wildcats prime field position. Northwestern manager to convert on that gift from the Cornhuskers which put them within a touchdown,
At that point the Nebraska offense stalled, unable to add to their 4-point lead.
The Wildcats scored with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter to take the lead.
Nebraska got an important stop with just over 2 minutes to go, but Northwestern punter Luke Akers buried the Huskers in their own end of the field.
Nebraska QB Casey Thompson —who went 25/42 for 354 yards and a touchdown — tried to find a receiver in the middle of the field with just 90 seconds to go, but instead found Northwestern’s Xander Mueller which sealed the game.
Meanwhile, Wildcats QB Ryan Hilinski had himself a day as well. He 27 of 38 passing attempts for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
It’s a frustrating way to start the season for Nebraska, and head coach Scott Frost will face a lot of questions for the team’s ill-fated onside kick in the third quarter, especially from the guy who bet $33K on the Huskers at -500.
With this loss, the Huskers have lost three consecutive season openers for the first time since the 1953-1955 season.
It’s not a good look for Nebraska who were getting trolled before the game even went final.
By the Big Sky Conference no less.
At least for the Huskers fans who made the trip to Dublin, the free drinks were something of a consolation prize.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle