Nov 26, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) is stopped short of the goal line by Nebraska Cornhuskers defenders during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Iowa storms back to beat Nebraska, stay alive in Big Ten West

No. 16 Iowa rallied from down 15 points late in the third quarter to keep alive its shot at a Big Ten West Division title, winning 28-21 at Nebraska on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb.

A 2-yard run by quarterback Spencer Petras, who took over for Alex Padilla after halftime, with 2:58 left gave the Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) the victory after trailing 21-6 with less than 21 minutes remaining. They earned at least a share of the West title but need No. 14 Wisconsin to lose Saturday at Minnesota in order to clinch a spot in the Big Ten championship game.

Petras’ scoring run was Iowa’s only offensive TD of the game. The Hawkeyes also scored on a blocked punt, recorded a safety and got four field goals from Caleb Shudak.

Nebraska (3-9, 1-8) lost its 18th consecutive game against a ranked opponent, losing by one score for the 20th time under coach Scott Frost. All nine losses this season have been by single digits.

Down 14-6 at the half, Petras led Iowa into the Nebraska red zone before Tyler Goodson — who ran for 156 yards to become the first Hawkeye rusher to top 1,000 yards in a season since Akrum Wadley in 2017 — lost a fumble at the 6-yard line.

The Cornhuskers turned that takeaway into points, with freshman quarterback Logan Smothers scoring on a 1-yard run to make it 21-6 with 5:54 left in the third quarter. During the drive he completed passes of 27 to Austin Allen — who set the single-season school record for receiving yards by a tight end — and 40 to Omar Manning, the latter as Smothers was hit hard in the pocket.

A 36-yard field goal by Shudak cut the deficit to 21-9 with 27 seconds left in the third. Four plays later, Joe Evans blocked the Nebraska punt and Kyler Fisher returned it 14 yards for a TD to make it 21-16 with 14:16 to go.

Smothers was called for intentional grounding in the end zone with 9:56 left, pulling Iowa within 21-18 on the safety, and the Hawkeyes tied it at 21 on Shudak’s fourth field goal of the game, a 44-yarder with 7:21 remaining.

A 55-yard Goodson run got Iowa into scoring position on its game-winning drive, with Petras finding the end zone four plays later.

Smothers, starting in place of the injured Adrian Martinez, was intercepted by Iowa’s Jermari Harris near the goal line with 43 seconds left to end Nebraska’s comeback chance. Smothers threw for 199 yards on 16-of-22 passing and ran for 64 yards and two TDs.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost (right) looks onto the field during the second quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Frost will return as Nebraska coach in 2022

Scott Frost will return for his fifth season as Nebraska’s football coach in 2022, ending speculation that he might be fired amid his fourth consecutive losing season.

Athletic director Trev Alberts made the announcement Monday that Frost, 46, will be back with a restructured contract agreed to by the coach.

“In my four months at Nebraska, I have closely observed our football team, and had several productive discussions with Coach Frost,” Alberts said in a statement. “Scott has laid out a clear plan and vision for the future of Nebraska Football and has agreed to a restructured contract.

“I am excited to continue to work together with Scott. We share a love of Nebraska and this football program and want nothing more than Nebraska Football to again compete for championships.”

Frost, a former quarterback at Nebraska who returned to his alma mater after leading UCF to a 13-0 season in 2017, is 15-27 overall and 10-23 in the Big Ten with the Cornhuskers, who are 3-7 overall and 1-6 in the conference this season after a 26-17 loss to fifth-ranked Ohio State on Saturday.

“I appreciate the confidence Trev Alberts has shown in me to continue to lead this program,” Frost said Monday. “I love this state, this football program and am honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve as the head coach at my alma mater.

“Our immediate focus is on the two games ahead against Wisconsin and Iowa, and the opportunity in front of us to build momentum heading into the offseason and 2022. I understand we have not won at a high enough level, but I am confident our football program will continue to take steps forward.”

The Cornhuskers have played four teams in the most recent Top 10 poll closely — Oklahoma, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State — but have been beaten by Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue and have an 0-6 record in games decided by one score.

Frost signed a seven-year, $35 million contract when he arrived at Nebraska in December 2017. He was given a two-year extension in 2019 that pushed the contract through 2026.

The extension was announced before Nebraska’s game against Wisconsin on Nov. 16, 2019. Frost was 7-13 entering that game. Starting with a loss to the Badgers that day, Nebraska has gone 8-14 since.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, buying out Frost and his coaching staff after this season would have cost Nebraska about $24.5 million.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Austin Burton (12) is tackled by Nebraska Cornhuskers defenders during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue rallies to defeat Nebraska on 4 INTs

Aidan O’Connell threw two second-half touchdown passes and Purdue intercepted Adrian Martinez four times as the Boilermakers rallied for a 28-23 win on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb.

The Boilermakers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) got two picks from Jalen Graham, one of which he returned for a touchdown in the first quarter, and a game-sealing interception by Cam Allen midway through the fourth quarter. Chris Jefferson finished things off with a pick a few minutes later, the second time in three games Purdue has collected four interceptions.

Purdue, which trailed 17-14 at the half, took its first lead with 2:47 left in the third quarter on a 3-yard TD pass from O’Connell to Milton Wright. O’Connell extended the lead to 11 on a 9-yard TD pass to Jackson Anthrop with 10:05 left in the fourth.

O’Connell threw for 233 yards on 34-of-45 passing, playing almost the entire way after splitting snaps with Austin Burton and Jack Plummer throughout the season.

Nebraska (3-6, 1-5) dropped its third straight game, all but ending its hopes of gaining bowl eligibility. The Cornhuskers scored on three of their first four drives, putting up 237 yards before halftime, but gained only 58 yards on their first seven drives of the second half that ended either in punts or turnovers.

Martinez, who entered the game with only three picks in 211 pass attempts this season, was just 14 of 29 for 269 yards and two TDs. His 16-yard pass to Samari Toure late in the fourth quarter was the 626th completion of his career, passing Tommy Armstrong for most in school history, but one play later he threw his fourth pick.

A 12-yard TD pass to Rahmir Johnson with 1:44 left got Nebraska within 28-23 but it missed the 2-point conversion and couldn’t hold onto an onside kick recovery, clinching a sixth one-score loss in as many occasions this season.

Nebraska is 5-18 in one-score games under coach Scott Frost.

Purdue ran for 116 yards, its most in a Big Ten game since gaining 175 against Rutgers last November, to improve to 3-1 on the road this season. The Boilermakers gained minus-13 yards in last week’s 30-13 home loss to Wisconsin.

The Cornhuskers scored on their first drive of the game on a 16-yard TD catch by Omar Manning. Following Graham’s pick-six, Martinez scored on a 4-yard run early in the second quarter, his 33rd career rushing TD to move into sixth place in school history.

Purdue tied it at 14 with 3:48 left in the second on a 1-yard TD run by Zander Horvath before Nebraska took a 3-point lead into the break on a 33-yard field goal from Chase Contreraz, who took over the kicking duties during the bye week.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost walks off the field after an injury timeout following a play against the Michigan Wolverines during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska, off another painful loss, knows Minnesota presents different challenge

Following another frustrating defeat, Nebraska shifts its focus to trying to finally win a road game.

Considering its recent trips to Minnesota, accomplishing that feat could be a difficult one.

The Cornhuskers aim to avoid going 0-4 on the road Saturday, when they head to Minneapolis to face a Gophers squad that’s looking for another running back to step up in this Big Ten West Division contest.

Nebraska’s four losses this season have come by a combined 21 points. Perhaps none were more difficult to take than a 32-29 home defeat to No. 9 Michigan last weekend.

The Cornhuskers (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) led 29-26 with a little more than three minutes to play but could not hold on. They were driving toward a winning field-goal attempt, at the least, before junior quarterback Adrian Martinez was intercepted at midfield with less than a minute to play in a tie game.

“All you can do is work your tail off and continue to work and push forward, and have faith that things will work out,” said Martinez, who has thrown just three interceptions to nine touchdowns in 2021.

The Cornhuskers push forward trying to avoid losing their first four road games since they went 0-5 away from home in 2018. Nebraska also has dropped its last two games at Minnesota — in 2017 and ‘19 — by a combined 60 points.

In two games against the Gophers, Martinez has completed 41 of 56 passes for 387 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions, and he has rushed for 221 yards and two scores. However, both came at home.

Minnesota (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten), meanwhile, returns to the field from an open week that followed its 20-13 victory at Purdue. Amid that outcome, however, running back Trey Potts (552 rushing yards, six touchdowns) suffered what the program has called a serious “upper-body” ailment that reportedly has ended his season. Potts had stepped in after Gophers star Mohamed Ibrahim suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the opener against Ohio State.

Freshman Mar’Keise Irving could move into the team’s featured-back role. He has 112 yards on 25 carries this season. However, Ky Thomas (66 yards, one touchdown), Cam Wiley and Bryce Williams could also see more time in the Minnesota backfield.

“At this point, it’s going to be a little more by committee,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck told the Star Tribune.

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan has completed just 52.2 percent of his passes for 709 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He has thrown two TD passes and no interceptions while winning the last two meetings with Nebraska.

The Gophers have totaled just 30 points in splitting their last two contests, against Bowling Green (14-10 loss) and Purdue. However, they’ve allowed just 27 points in their last three games.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (5) breaks up a pass to Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Daylen Baldwin (85) during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Michigan boots late field goal to edge Nebraska

Jake Moody kicked the game-winning 39-yard field goal with 1:24 left to lift No. 9 Michigan to a 32-29 win at Nebraska on Saturday in Lincoln.

Moody tied the game at 29-29 with 3:00 left on a 31-yard field goal, and then the Wolverines (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) recovered a fumble by Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez to set up his game-winner.

After a scoreless first quarter, Michigan opened the scoring with 9:52 left in the second quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Moody. The Wolverines then took a 6-0 lead with 3:19 left in the second quarter on a 21-yard field goal by Moody, which capped off an 11-play, 87-yard drive.

Before the end of the half, Michigan drove the field and took a 13-0 lead with nine seconds remaining on a 3-yard touchdown run by Hassan Haskins.

Nebraska (3-4, 1-3) responded on the opening drive of the second half, cutting Michigan’s lead to 13-7 on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Austin Allen with 12:49 remaining in the third quarter.

Later in the third quarter, Michigan regained a double-digit lead, going up 19-7 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Haskins to punctuate a 10-play, 91-yard drive.

A 2-point conversion pass failed.

Nebraska immediately responded, going 75 yards in five plays and cutting Michigan’s lead to 19-14 on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Rahmir Johnson with 1:24 left in the third quarter.

Following an interception by Deontai Williams that gave the Cornhuskers the ball at the Michigan 13-yard line, Nebraska took a 22-19 lead with 52 seconds remaining in the third quarter. First, Martinez hit Levi Falck for a 13-yard touchdown pass, and then Martinez ran in the 2-point conversion.

Michigan had an answer, taking a 26-22 lead with 11:21 remaining on a 29-yard touchdown run by Blake Corum.

Nebraska came back on its next possession, grabbing a 29-26 lead on a 5-yard touchdown run by Martinez with 7:08 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Nick Henrich (42) attempts to bring down Michigan State Spartans running back Kenneth Walker III (9) during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Michigan State ties game late, beats Nebraska in OT

Matt Coghlin kicked a 21-yard field goal in overtime to give No. 20 Michigan State a 23-20 home win over Nebraska on Saturday.

Nebraska had the ball first in overtime, but Michigan State cornerback Chester Kimbrough intercepted a pass from Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez to give the Spartans the ball.

Running back Kenneth Walker ran the ball down to the 2-yard line, and then two plays later, Coghlin came on for his winning kick.

Michigan State prevailed despite accumulating only 14 yards of offense in the second half and being outgained by Nebraska for the game, 440 to 254.

After a scoreless first quarter, Michigan State took a 7-0 lead with 14:08 remaining until halftime on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Payton Thorne to Jayden Reed.

Nebraska answered, driving down the field and cutting Michigan State’s lead to 7-3 on a 28-yard field goal by Connor Culp with 11:22 left in the second quarter.

Michigan State regained a seven-point lead at 10-3 on a 26-yard field goal by Coghlin with 8:20 left in the second quarter.

Nebraska then drove the field and forged a 10-10 tie with 4:20 remaining in the second quarter on a 12-yard touchdown run by Martinez.

Michigan State took a 13-10 lead with 1:03 left in the second quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Coghlin.

On the first drive of the third quarter, Nebraska went on a 14-play drive and tied the game at 13-13 with 9:10 left in the third on a 28-yard field goal by Culp.

Nebraska then took a 20-13 lead with 7:29 remaining in the game on a 3-yard touchdown run by Martinez, which capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive.

Michigan State then used special teams to tie the game, pulling even at 20-20 with 3:47 left on a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown by Reed.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Payton Thorne (10) hands the ball to running back Kenneth Walker III (9) during the first half against the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Michigan St., aiming for full potential, hosts Nebraska

Michigan State has survived each test that has come its way this season, whether it’s been a season-opening conference game on the road, a trap game in its home opener against an FCS opponent and a road game against a previously ranked opponent.

Now, a different sort of challenge awaits the suddenly resurgent Spartans.

Fresh off an undefeated start and a newly-minted No. 20 ranking, Michigan State (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) will have to demonstrate it can handle success and expectations when it plays host to Nebraska on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.

After opening the season with a 38-21 win at Northwestern, the Spartans took care of an inferior opponent in Week 2 with a 42-14 win over Youngstown State.

Last week, Michigan State made a statement to the nation by going on the road and earning a 38-17 win at then-No. 24 Miami, seemingly gaining strength in the later stages of the game in the South Florida heat.

Still, Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker feels it’s just the beginning for his team.

“We have not played our best football,” Tucker said. “We have not reached our full potential. There is still more to do, a lot more to do. The season is still very early and we have some tough opponents.”

Leading the way has been running back Kenneth Walker III, a transfer from Wake Forest who has been a revelation. Walker rushed for 172 yards on 27 carries against Miami.

Sophomore Payton Thorne has also seemed to take hold of the starting quarterback job. He has thrown for nine touchdowns and no interceptions so far this year.

“We have a team that’s hungry with a chip on their shoulder and we know we’re going to learn from this and we’re going to continue to improve and get better,” Tucker said.

Michigan State hopes to continue its hot start against Nebraska (2-2, 0-1), coming off a 23-16 loss at No. 4 Oklahoma.

The Cornhuskers actually did better than most thought against the Sooners, given they entered as 22 1/2-point underdogs.

Nebraska hopes that can be something to build on going into East Lansing.

“I thought we went toe-to-toe with them up front on both sides of the ball,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said of the Oklahoma game. “We still want to see some more crease runs (on offense). That’s really the piece that’s missing. One little block that’s a little bit better, hitting the hole a little better, and generating some of the explosive plays in the run game. If we start doing that, we’re going to be pretty dangerous.”

What was really encouraging for Nebraska against Oklahoma was the performance of veteran quarterback Adrian Martinez, who has been up-and-down this season and throughout his career.

Martinez was certainly up against Oklahoma, going 19-of-25 passing for 289 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

“Going down the stretch here, every game is a ‘need’ win for us,” Martinez said. “That’s how we are approaching it. We know that any given Saturday, we can win those games. We need to approach each game with the intensity we did in the Oklahoma week.”

Nebraska running back Gabe Ervin Jr. injured his right knee against the Sooners and could miss the rest of the season. Ervin has 107 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.

–Field Level Media

Oct 26, 2019; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost leads his team onto the field against the Indiana Hoosiers in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska players sue Big Ten over season postponement

A group of Nebraska football players sued the Big Ten on Thursday, asking the conference to reinstate the fall season and provide more information as to how the season was made to move football to the spring in the first place.

The Omaha World-Herald posted the 13-page legal document on its website. The lawsuit was filed in district court in Nebraska’s Lancaster County.

The Big Ten announced Aug. 11 that it was moving the fall season for all sports, including football, to the spring because of the dangers posed by COVID-19.

In their lawsuit, however, the players contend that the decision violated the Big Ten’s published protocols that call for such action to be determined by a vote of campus presidents and chancellors. The lawsuit cites two Big Ten presidents who have said no such vote took place and asks for transparency about the process that was followed, as well as an injunction to overturn the ruling.

The players whose names are attached to the lawsuit are Garrett Snodgrass, Garrett Nelson, Ethan Piper, Noa Pola-Gates, Alante Brown, Brant Banks, Brig Banks and Jackson Hannah.

Their attorney, Mike Flood, issued a statement along with the court filing.

“This isn’t about money or damages, it’s about real-life relief,” he said. “These student athletes have followed all the precautions, underwent regular testing, and lived according to the prescribed guidelines of the world-class experts at UNMC [University of Nebraska Medical Center] all for the chance to play football in September.

“On August 11th, six days after announcing the fall football schedule. A decision was made to cancel everything with vague reasoning and no explanation. Our Clients want to know whether there was a vote and the details of any vote, and whether the Big Ten followed its own rules in reaching its decision.

“Sadly, these student athletes have no other recourse than filing a lawsuit against their conference.”

Last week, a group of parents marched outside the Big Ten headquarters in Illinois to show their disapproval with the conference’s move. Parents with players at a number of Big Ten schools also have written letters to the conference in opposition, and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields launched an online petition seeking the reinstatement of the season. As of Thursday, nearly 302,000 people had signed it.

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2019; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost leads his team onto the field against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska nixes talk of playing outside Big Ten

Nebraska ended speculation on Thursday that the Cornhuskers might play football outside of the Big Ten this fall.

“The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a fully committed member of the Big Ten Conference. It is an unparalleled athletic and academic alliance,” read a joint statement issued by university chancellor Ronnie Green and president Ted Carter.

“We have the greatest fans in college athletics. This has been a difficult and disappointing week for the Husker family. We all look forward to the day when we can cheer on our student-athletes, on the field and in the arena.”

The Big Ten voted Tuesday to postpone all fall sports due to ongoing health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nebraska officials initially said they were “disappointed in the decision” and weren’t ready to abandon the hope of playing football in the fall instead of the spring.

“We will continue to consult with medical experts and evaluate the situation as it emerges. We hope that it may be possible for our student athletes to have the opportunity to compete,” read a joint statement Tuesday from Green, athletic director Bill Moos and football coach Scott Frost.

On Wednesday night, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told ESPN that members playing outside the conference was not a viable option.

“We have 14 schools in the Big Ten conference. I appreciate the passion of all of our schools. I didn’t expect all of our coaches to be ecstatic that the decision was made, so I understand they’re passionate, and as I sit here right now, that’s what I’m going to conclude — they’re passionate people,” Warren said. “My expectation is that when you’re in a conference, you can’t be in a conference and be an independent. That’s where we are. I expect for our 14 members to go forward together.”

The conference holds all of the Cornhuskers’ media rights. The league earned $781.5 million in the most recent fiscal year, per USA Today, with Nebraska earning a $55.6 million payout.

–Field Level Media