Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive lineman Damion Daniels (93) and Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Garrett Nelson (44) celebreate after teammate Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Caleb Tannor (2) sacked Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) Saturday's NCAA Division I football game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., on November 6, 2021.

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Noah Ruggles kicks No. 5 Ohio State past Nebraska

Noah Ruggles kicked four field goals for the second straight game for the struggling Ohio State offense Saturday to help the No. 5 Buckeyes hold on to defeat Nebraska 26-17 in Lincoln, Neb.

Ohio State (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten) led 17-10 at the half and Ruggles made field goals of 46 and 35 yards in the third quarter to increase the lead to 23-10.

Nebraska (3-7, 1-6) responded with a 75-yard drive to pull to within 23-17 in the final minute of the third quarter on a 1-yard keeper by Adrian Martinez, one play after a 53-yard catch by Somari Toure.

But that would be as close as the Cornhuskers could get even though they got the ball back and reached the OSU 13-yard line before Chase Contreraz missed a 31-yard field goal.

Ohio State made it a two-possession game when Ruggles added a 46-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining, which made it 26-17. The graduate transfer from North Carolina is 15 for 15 this season.

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was 36 of 54 for 405 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

His favorite target was Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who had one TD while setting a school record with 15 receptions that totaled 240 yards, second-most in school history.

Martinez was 16 for 31 for 248 yards, a touchdown and an interception, which ended Nebraska’s last drive at midfield with 56 seconds remaining. Toure had four catches for 150 yards.

Nebraska, which had lost each of its previous six losses this season by one score, played the Buckeyes tight throughout.

Ohio State was held scoreless in the first quarter for the second time this season, the other being in the 35-28 loss to Oregon in the second game.

A 26-yard field goal by Ruggles at 1:25 of the second quarter gave the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead and a 2-yard TD pass to Chris Olave made it 10-0 6:41 before halftime.

Nebraska made it 10-3 on a 39-yard field goal from Contreraz before the teams swapped explosive scores.

First, Smith-Njigba caught a 75-yard pass for Ohio State with 3:34 left in the half, then Toure’s 72-yard reception for the Cornhuskers 41 seconds later made it 17-10.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Adrian Martinez (2) looks on against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska’s bowl bid hopes may hinge on matchup with Purdue

Adrian Martinez has accounted for 20 touchdowns through eight games, but his production has not translated into success for Nebraska.

Martinez and the Cornhuskers sit in last place in the Big Ten West as they prepare to host Purdue on Saturday at Lincoln, Neb.

Nebraska (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) has lost two straight games and four of its past five entering the clash with the Boilermakers (4-3, 2-2).

Considering current No. 5 Ohio State and No. 9 Iowa are part of the remaining schedule, the contest against Purdue is a must-win if the Cornhuskers want to avoid missing out on a bowl game for the fifth straight season.

“We can’t afford to have any attention on anything else besides Purdue,” Martinez, who has 10 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing scores, said in Monday’s press conference. “We need this win. Ultimately, if we want to go to a bowl game, we need to beat Purdue. Simple as that for us. All attention on Purdue.”

The Boilermakers feel their own urgency after losing 30-13 to Wisconsin last weekend.

Purdue had produced a splendid 24-7 victory over then-No. 2 Iowa one week earlier. But the Boilermakers totaled just 206 yards of offense against the Badgers while scoring 13 points for the fourth time in the past five games.

Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said Monday that quarterback Aidan O’Connell will make his fourth straight start. O’Connell threw three interceptions against Wisconsin while completing 24 of 32 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown.

O’Connell passed for 371 yards against Minnesota on Oct. 2 and 375 versus Iowa after replacing Jack Plummer as the starter. He has seven touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

“We’ll have our hands full,” Brohm said of moving the ball against the Nebraska defense, which allows 19.4 points per game. “This is a big, physical defense. They’ve got size, athleticism, experience in the secondary, and they’ve got that system down.”

The Cornhuskers will likely be without one of their better players in safety Deontai Williams, who has a team-best four interceptions. Williams sustained a knee injury during a 30-23 loss to Minnesota on Oct. 16 prior to the team’s bye week.

“Deontai will be back this season — I don’t know when,” Nebraska ccoach Scott Frost said Monday.

One of Purdue’s top players is David Bell, but the wideout with 44 receptions for 712 yards was limited to six catches for 33 yards by Wisconsin. Bell has reached 100 yards receiving four times this season, including a career-high 240 against Iowa.

Martinez rushed for two touchdowns and passed for one as Nebraska notched a 37-27 win at Purdue last season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Mike Brown-Stephens (22) runs for more yards after the catch against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Tanner Morgan’s sharp passing leads Minnesota over Nebraska

Tanner Morgan completed 16 consecutive passes, leading the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 30-23 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a Big Ten game on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis.

Nebraska (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) has lost four of its past five games, including two straight. Huskers kicker Connor Culp made a 50-yard field goal, but he missed an extra point wide left and a 27-yard field goal to the right.

Minnesota (4-2, 2-1) also stopped Nebraska on fourth down twice, including once at the goal line. The Gophers’ defense added a safety.

The Gophers won their second straight game and their first since standout running back Trey Potts was ruled out for the season. Potts is the second star Gophers running back to have his season ended, joining Mohamed Ibrahim.

With those two out, Morgan took over in the first half, completing 14 of 15 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He cooled off in the second half, finishing with 209 yards on 20-of-24 passing.

Chris Autman-Bell led the Gophers with 11 catches for 103 yards and one TD.

Austin Allen caught five passes for 121 yards and one TD for the Huskers. Adrian Martinez passed for 241 yards and one score.

Minnesota never trailed, leading 21-9 at halftime.

The Gophers scored on their first possession, putting together a 14-play, 61-yard drive. The key play was on a fourth-and-one from Nebraska’s 5-yard line as backup quarterback Cole Kramer completed a play-action touchdown pass to Brevyn Spann-Ford.

After Culp’s field goal, the Gophers scored on Morgan’s 28-yard TD pass to Mike Brown-Stephens.

Nebraska followed with Rahmir Johnson’s 6-yard TD run, although Culp missed the PAT.

Minnesota took a 21-9 lead on Morgan’s 7-yard TD pass to Autman-Bell.

Morgan was intercepted on his first two second-half passes. On his second pick — by Deontai Williams — Nebraska took the short field and scored on Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Nebraska had a chance to take the lead with less than four minutes left in the third, but the Huskers were stopped on two straight running plays at the goal line. First, Martinez was stuffed. Then, 245-pound running back Jaquez Yant slipped and was hammered by defensive back Tyler Nubin on fourth down.

With 4:45 to play, Minnesota stretched its lead to 23-16 when defensive end Esezi Otomewo harassed Martinez into a safety (intentional grounding from the end zone).

Minnesota put the game away with Bryce Williams’ 56-yard TD run with 2:12 left. Williams finished with 127 yards on 17 carries.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost during the fourth quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska aims to rebound vs. Northwestern

Nebraska and Northwestern will vie for their first conference victory of the season when the Big Ten West rivals meet in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday night.

The Cornhuskers (2-3, 0-2) are coming off a heartbreaking 23-20 overtime loss at Michigan State. Nebraska led by seven late in the fourth quarter before allowing a punt return for a touchdown before turning the ball over in overtime.

The Cornhuskers’ three losses this season, all on the road, have been by a combined 18 points — including 23-16 at then-No. 3 Oklahoma on Sept. 18.

“Right now we’re a good team that’s lost some games,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. “Now we have to get over that hurdle.”

A key to that will be improving the offensive line, as quarterback Adrian Martinez was sacked seven times versus the Spartans.

Nebraska has allowed 18 sacks in five games after yielding only 16 in eight games in 2020.

“I don’t want to see running backs take the ball and have a wall of (defenders) in front of them,” Frost said.

Northwestern (2-2, 0-1) rushed for a season-best 373 yards in a 35-6 win against Ohio last Saturday. The bulk of that yardage came from sophomore Evan Hull, who ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90-yard scoring run that helped him earn Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors.

The Wildcats will be hard-pressed to move the ball on the ground that easily this time. Nebraska held Michigan State to 71 yards on 30 carries after the Spartans entered averaging 263.7 per game, including 326 in a season-opening 38-21 win over Northwestern.

That means Northwestern quarterback Ryan Hilinski, a transfer from South Carolina who made his first start against Ohio, may be asked to do more. Hilinski was 12 of 20 for 88 yards against the Bobcats.

“We’re going to do what we have to do to win,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “I think this is an incredibly improved Nebraska team. Defensively, they’re playing at an incredibly high level.”

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma's Michael Woods II (8) catches the ball in front of of Nebraska's Cam Taylor-Britt (5) during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.

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No. 3 Oklahoma hold off Adrian Martinez, Nebraska

Spencer Rattler threw for 214 yards and a touchdown as No. 3 Oklahoma beat visiting Nebraska 23-16 on Saturday.

The Sooners’ 23 points were their fewest in more than five years.

Nebraska got the ball back with a chance to force overtime in the final minute, before a pair of Sooners sacks, and then a stop of Rahmir Johnson just short of the first down marker ended the game.

Oklahoma managed just 408 total yards, with 194 on the ground. Eric Gray ran 15 times for 84 yards for the Sooners (3-0).

In the waning seconds of the third quarter, Adrian Martinez finished off a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to cut the Sooners’ lead.

But Kelen Meyer got his hand on the extra-point try, blocking it into the hands of Pat Fields, who grabbed it a yard deep in the end zone and returned it for a two-point conversion to put Oklahoma up 16-9.

Earlier in that Nebraska (2-2) drive, running back Gabe Ervin Jr. crumpled to the ground during a run. Ervin, who had 9 carries for 18 yards, left and didn’t return.

The game was scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Nebraska’s 35-31 1971 victory in Norman in a game dubbed “The Game of the Century.”

Oklahoma opened with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to go ahead 7-0. But the Cornhuskers’ defense, which had allowed just 10 total points in its previous two games, made life difficult for Rattler and the Sooners’ offense after the early score.

The Cornhuskers answered the touchdown with a field goal for the last scoring of the half.

After going stagnant in the first half after the initial drive, the Sooners showed offensive life to extend their lead on Jeremiah Hall’s 1-yard touchdown catch with just less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Kennedy Brooks scored early in the fourth quarter on a two-yard touchdown run to go up 23-9. Martinez hit Omar Manning for a touchdown later in the quarter to cut the deficit to one possession.

Martinez finished 19 of 25 for 289 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He ran for 34 yards and a score.

–Field Level Media

OU coach Lincoln Riley smiles after a touchdown Saturday night.

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‘Big Reds’ to meet again when Nebraska faces No. 3 Oklahoma

Once a top rivalry in college football, the last time Oklahoma and Nebraska played, the current crop of players on both programs were in elementary school.

So Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley and Nebraska coach Scott Frost have educated their players on the history of the rivalry, once known as the “Battle of the Big Reds,” in advance of Saturday’s matchup at Norman, Okla.

“We talked about doing a video, and then it honestly felt a little like: How do you pick just one? It almost minimizes it,” Riley said. “So I visited with them about it. We had a little slide prepared that showed the history of it, when it started, highlighted some key games, all the different players, all the different (No.) 1 vs. 2 matchups, all the significance for conference and national championships.”

This game between No. 3 Oklahoma and Nebraska might not have the buildup like so many of the others, but there still will be plenty on the line.

For the Sooners, it’s a final nonconference tune up before beginning Big 12 play next week and a chance to solidify their status as a College Football Playoff contender after an up-and-down first two games.

In starting 2-0, Oklahoma was tested in a 40-35 victory over Tulane before stomping an overmatched FCS Western Carolina team 76-0 last week.

For Nebraska (2-1), it’s a chance at a signature win in Frost’s fourth season.

The Cornhuskers are 15-21 under Frost, including 0-7 against ranked opponents.

Nebraska’s last win over a ranked team came early in the 2016 season. Its last win over a top-five team came way back in 2001 in one of the last classics of the Nebraska-Oklahoma series, when the No. 3 Cornhuskers knocked off No. 2 Oklahoma 20-10 in Lincoln, Neb.

“We are going to prepare like it’s any other week,” Frost said. “That’s what we do but I think the emotion is going to take care of itself. I don’t think there is going to be a lot of motivational speaking that’s going to need to be done.

“These guys know how good of a team we are getting ready to play and they’re going to be in the spotlight nationally. I think the guys are excited and we’ve gotten a lot better over the last few weeks. We need to keep that going.”

After opening with a loss to Illinois, the Cornhuskers have played much better, outscoring opponents 80-10 the last two weeks.

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez struggled in the opener, completing just 50 percent of his passes. In the last two games, Martinez has completed more than 71 percent of his throws. He also has averaged 7.5 yards per carry this season.

Riley said containing Martinez, especially with pressure from the interior defensive line, will be a key.

“Obviously you’d love to get rush on the edges and all that but if you really wide up the edges, you can open up big holes, whereas that interior pass rush, sometimes it’s hard to get away from,” Riley said. “You’ve got to be really disciplined when you rush the passer against this guy.”

The Sooners are expected to be without reserve wide receiver Brian Darby, while cornerback Woodi Washington is questionable after both sustained injuries in last week’s win.

Frost hopes the Cornhuskers will get some help back soon, especially on offense where receivers Oliver Martin and Omar Manning, as well as tight end Travis Mokolek, missed last week’s game, while receiver Zavier Betts and tight end Austin Allen left the win over Buffalo with injuries.

Saturday’s game was scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century” between the two schools, a 35-31 Nebraska win at Oklahoma on Nov. 25, 1971. Multiple of players from both rosters of that game are expected to be in attendance.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost on the field prior to the game against the Fordham Rams at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Martinez leads Nebraska past Buffalo

Adrian Martinez accounted for 354 yards of total offense while Gabe Ervin and Samori Toure each scored two touchdowns as Nebraska overwhelmed Buffalo 28-3 on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb.

Martinez, a fourth-year junior, threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-19 passing and ran for 112 yards. It was his seventh career 100-yard rushing game and put him over 2,000 for his career, the fifth Nebraska quarterback to reach that number.

Ervin, a true freshman, scored on runs of 2 and 1 while Toure hauled in a pair of 68-yard touchdown passes from Martinez.

Nebraska (2-1) had a chance for points on its first two drives but its own mistakes negated any scoring. Connor Culp hit the upright on a 32-yard field goal on the Cornhuskers’ first possession, the first of three misses for the reigning Big Ten Kicker of the Year, and an offensive pass interference call wiped out a 44-yard touchdown catch by Toure.

The ‘Huskers finally broke through midway through the second quarter when, after eluding a sack in the backfield, Martinez scrambled for a 71-yard gain. One play later, Ervin scored from 2 yards out.

Martinez then connected with Toure on a 68-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half to give Nebraska a 14-0 lead at the break.

Buffalo (1-1) got on the board with 9:17 left in the third quarter on a 45-yard field goal by Alex McNulty, tying his career high. McNulty was 1 for 4 on field goals, missing from 52, 50 and 42.

An interception by Nebraska linebacker Luke Reimer, who made a tackle on a fourth down play in the first half to thwart a Buffalo drive, set up Ervin’s second TD on a 1-yard run with 14:47 left in the fourth.

Toure’s second long scoring reception, with 5:53 left in the fourth, came one play after Buffalo opted for a field-goal attempt down 21-3.

Nebraska has given up only 10 points in two games since losing 30-22 at Illinois to open the season. The three points yielded against Buffalo are the fewest since a 24-3 win over Michigan State in 2011.

It was the 377th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium, which set a record for hottest temperature at kickoff at 95 degrees.

–Field Level Media

Aug 28, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Nebraska head coach Scott Frost watches his team in the first quarter with Illinois at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Frost on hot seat as Nebraska hosts Fordham

By the first week of his fourth season at the helm at Nebraska, Scott Frost fully expected all the talk to be about how he has restored the Cornhuskers to the glory days of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

Instead, all the discussion this week has been about setting the program back to the dark days of the late 1950s.

It has not been close to the expected homecoming for Frost, a former quarterback at Nebraska who came back to his alma mater after leading UCF to an unbeaten season in 2017.

Things seemingly hit rock bottom last Saturday, when after proclaiming all offseason how this was the most depth and talent he’s had in his time in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers (0-1) lost at lowly Illinois, 30-22.

Nebraska played a mistake-filled game, fell behind 30-9, and couldn’t recover, which has led to calls for Frost’s firing from irate fans all week heading into Saturday afternoon’s home opener against Fordham.

Frost is 12-21 in his tenure at Nebraska, and admitted he was puzzled when seeing some unexpected strategy by Illinois defensively.

“About half of our game plan was kind out the window when they came out and lined up the way they did,” said Frost, referring to the Illini coming out with a different alignment on its defensive line than what was seen on film. “We had to scramble and go to an alternative plan. We tried to adjust and did some good things, but not enough.”

Already faced with a Big Ten loss, Nebraska will try and regroup against a nonconference opponent in Fordham, an FCS team in the Patriot League that played an abbreviated three-game schedule this past spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the Rams’ season opener.

“This will be a tremendous opportunity for them,” Fordham coach Joe Conlin said back in May. “Playing a game at an FBS power five school, especially one as steeped in tradition as Nebraska, will be an experience that the team will remember for years.”

The home fans will hope to see more consistent play out of veteran Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez, who was shaky in the loss to Illinois.

Martinez fumbled late in the first half, which resulted in Illinois returning it for a backbreaking touchdown just before intermission.

Martinez also overthrew a wide-open receiver in the end zone in the first half that would have been a touchdown, which resulted in the Huskers having to settle for a field goal.

Martinez finished 16-of-32 passing for 232 yards and one TD. He also rushed for 111 yards and a score.

“There are little mistakes we need to clean up as an entire team, as a unit, and as an individual,” Martinez said.

The biggest question going into the game might be whether Nebraska keeps its celebrated home sellout streak intact.

The Cornhuskers have sold out every home game since 1962 at Memorial Stadium, a streak that spans 375 games, but the combination of recent losing and an FCS opponent coming in could put that streak in jeopardy.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2020; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Dedrick Mills (26) carries the ball  during the second half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Dedrick Mills declares for NFL draft, but Nebraska nets transfer RB

Nebraska running back Dedrick Mills declared for the NFL draft on Tuesday, just hours after Southern California’s Markese Stepp announced he was transferring to the Cornhuskers.

Mills rushed for 396 yards and three touchdowns in six games in 2020. He also caught 13 passes for 84 yards.

Mills, who began his career at Georgia Tech, rushed for 1,912 yards and 25 touchdowns in three college seasons — one for the Yellow Jackets and two for Nebraska.

Mills also played one season at Garden City (Kan.) Community College after being dismissed from Georgia Tech in August of 2017.

Mills posted his declaration on Twitter, ending it with “I have decided to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.”

Stepp announced his transfer via a picture of himself in a Nebraska uniform saying “Committed.”

Stepp rushed for 505 yards and six touchdowns in three seasons with the Trojans. He had 165 yards and three scores on 45 carries and caught three passes for 28 yards in five 2020 games.

–Field Level Media