Sep 17, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Jalil Farooq (3) scores a touchdown against Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive back Tommi Hill (0) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 Oklahoma tramples Nebraska

Dillon Gabriel threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score as No. 6 Oklahoma blew out Nebraska 49-14 on Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

It was the Sooners’ biggest scoring output ever in Lincoln.

After Oklahoma struggled early on both sides, the Sooners (3-0) took control and dominated the rest of the way in a renewal of the longtime Big Eight rivalry.

The Mickey Joseph era could not have gotten off to a much better start at the outset of the game.

Joseph was named the Cornhuskers’ interim head coach earlier in the week after Scott Frost was fired.

The Cornhuskers forced the Sooners to punt on the game’s first drive, then needed less than two minutes to drive 77 yards to take an early 7-0 lead on Casey Thompson’s 32-yard pass to Trey Palmer.

Oklahoma faced third-and-seven from its own 39 on its second drive, and got a strong rush. But Gabriel eluded the would-be tacklers and found plenty of room to run, going 61 yards for a touchdown.

Beginning with Gabriel’s career-long run, the Sooners scored touchdowns on seven of nine possessions.

After that early touchdown, things turned sour for Nebraska’s offense as well.

The Cornhuskers (1-3) had just 76 yards in the first half after the initial drive, being outgained 355-148 before half.

Eric Gray ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns for the Sooners for his second 100-yard game this season.

Thompson was 14 of 20 for 129 yards and a touchdown for Nebraska, but the Sooners sacked him four times in the first half.

Thompson, whose father, Charles, was a star quarterback for the Sooners, started against Oklahoma for the second time in two seasons after playing for Texas last season.

Oklahoma outgained Nebraska 580-327, with the Sooners rushing for 315 yards. The Sooners came into the game struggling on third down but went 10 for 16 on third.

The Sooners turned the ball over for the first time this season late in the game, but won the turnover battle 2-1.

Oklahoma turned to some trickery early in the second quarter when tight end Brayden Willis took a lateral, then found Marcus Major downfield for a 24-yard touchdown reception.

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, US; Nebraska Cornhuskers interim head coach Mickey Joseph speaks to the media during a press conference at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 Oklahoma offers no respite for regrouping Huskers

Mickey Joseph once was the center of a recruiting war between Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Now he’ll begin his Division I head coaching career for Nebraska (1-2) against the sixth-ranked Sooners (2-0) when the teams face off Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

Joseph ultimately chose the Cornhuskers over the Sooners.

But in the wake of Scott Frost being fired following Nebraska’s 45-42 loss to Georgia Southern last week, Joseph took over as the interim head coach this week, 10 months since arriving from LSU to become the Cornhuskers’ associate head coach and passing game coordinator.

Joseph said Nebraska’s players have responded well to the week of change: “They handled it like champs.”

After Frost was fired, Cornhuskers edge rusher Ochaun Mathis told the Lincoln Journal Star there was a “losing culture” around the program that needed to change.

Joseph pushed back against that characterization Tuesday.

“We haven’t been winning, OK, but I wouldn’t say it’s a losing culture,” Joseph said. “A losing culture are kids who don’t come to work. These kids have played in a lot of tight games. Now we’ve got to figure out a way to get them over the hump.”

Nebraska went 5-22 in one-score games during Frost’s tenure, including last season’s 23-16 loss to the Sooners in Norman, Okla.

When Joseph played for the Cornhuskers, Nebraska-Oklahoma was one of the top rivalries in college football, regularly determining the Big Eight winner while often serving as something of an elimination game among national championship contenders.

In 17 of the 31 seasons from 1971 through 2001, both teams were ranked in the top 10 when they squared off.

But when the Big Eight became the Big 12, the teams landed in separate divisions, and the game became less frequent. And with Nebraska’s 2011 move to the Big Ten, the teams stopped playing until last year’s 23-16 Oklahoma victory.

This home-and-home series was set up to commemorate the 1971 “Game of the Century” between the teams.

Saturday’s meeting doesn’t have that kind of importance, but with Nebraska going through the coaching transition and No. 6 Oklahoma looking to bolster its hopes for a College Football Playoff appearance, there’s still plenty to play for on both sides.

Sooners coach Brent Venables is plenty familiar with Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson.

Thompson’s father, Charles, was a quarterback for the Sooners in the 1980s and was around the Oklahoma program during Venables’ stint as the defensive coordinator there from 1999 to 2011.

Venables tried to get Casey Thompson to follow in his father’s footsteps this past offseason when Thompson entered the transfer portal from Texas.

“Really pulling for him,” Venables said. “Except this week.”

The Sooners instead added Central Florida transfer Dillon Gabriel at quarterback after Caleb Williams left for USC. Through two games, Gabriel has completed 70 percent of his passes for 529 yards and has five touchdowns with no interceptions.

Oklahoma has yet to commit a turnover, the first time since at least 1936 that the team hasn’t turned the ball over through the first two games of a season.

“Continuing to take care of the rock, again, that’s where it’s all going to start for us,” Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said of Gabriel. “Proud of him from that standpoint. We’ve created some explosive (plays). The biggest thing is making sure we’re not taking unnecessary sacks.”

On the other side, the Sooners have allowed just 16 points through two games, handling UTEP 45-13 and Kent State 33-3.

Their level of competition will take a leap on Saturday. Even though the Cornhuskers have dropped games to Northwestern and Georgia Southern, the offense has still been potent, averaging 36 points a game.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost looks on during a timeout in the second quarter against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska looking to build momentum, hosts Georgia Southern

Teams led by coaches with plenty of experience operating on the hot seat meet Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., when Nebraska hosts Georgia Southern in a nonconference game.

Nebraska coach Scott Frost is high on most lists of college football coaches likely to be fired this season, a spot solidified when his Cornhuskers opened the season by blowing a two-score lead and a loss to Big Ten foe Northwestern. The Huskers evened their record at 1-1 last week with a 38-17 home win over North Dakota, though the game was tied at 17 in the third quarter.

“Looking back on the game I thought there was a lot of good things we could take from it,” Frost said. “Usually when you watch tape nothing’s as good as you think or as bad as you think. It’s been a process to get everyone on the same page.”

Georgia Southern opened its season with a 59-7 home win over Morgan State, making for a solid debut under new coach Clay Helton. Helton was hired by the Eagles last November after he was fired by USC two games into his seventh season as head coach.

Helton’s USC tenure involved several seasons on the rumor mill as the Trojans never achieved the national heights expected at USC — much like Frost’s experience at Nebraska.

Following their season-opening pratfall, the Cornhuskers rushed for 244 yards and three touchdowns against North Dakota, more than doubling their ground production from the first game. Junior Anthony Grant ran for 189 yards and two scores, earning Big Ten Offensive Co-Player of the Week honors.

Georgia Southern got 367 passing yards and four TD passes from quarterback Kyle Vantrease, a 6th-year senior transfer from Buffalo who tied the school record for TDs and had the Eagles’ first 300-yard passing game since 2008.

Picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt’s East Division, Georgia Southern is 0-2 all-time against the Big Ten with losses at Indiana (2017) and Minnesota (2019). The Eagles are 2-30 against current power-conference teams, the last win coming at Florida in 2013 when they were still at the FCS level.

Nebraska is 15-2 against Sun Belt schools, most recently losing at home to Troy in 2018 — Frost’s first season, when the Cornhuskers started 0-6. Nebraska is now 16-30 under Frost.

–Field Level Media

Aug 27, 2022; Dublin, IRELAND; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Casey Thompson drops back to pass against Northwestern in the Aer Lingus college football series at Aviva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Moran-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska hopes for new start against North Dakota

Nebraska will look to bounce back from a demoralizing season-opening loss to Northwestern when it hosts North Dakota on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

The Cornhuskers, who were hoping for a breakthrough season under fifth-year coach Scott Frost, fell apart in the second half against the Wildcats in a Big Ten game in Dublin, Ireland, and lost 31-28.

Northwestern scored two touchdowns in the final 24:37 to deal the Cornhuskers their seventh straight loss dating to last season.

The Cornhuskers are the first major-conference team in the AP Poll era, which goes back to 1936, to drop seven straight contests by single digits, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“We’ve just lost too many close games,” Frost said. “These guys need something to believe in. We need to believe in ourselves as a team. I think they do.”

Casey Thompson went 25-for-42 for 355 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, both of which occurred in the fourth quarter that derailed any hopes of a comeback. Anthony Grant had 19 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns and Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda had four catches for 120 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Cornhuskers allowed 528 yards of total offense, including 314 through the air, against a Northwestern team that Nebraska defeated 56-7 last year.

Nebraska hopes a turnaround from last year’s 3-9 season — its fourth straight losing season under Frost — will start with a win over North Dakota, a I-AA school that won two of its final three games last year to finish 5-6.

The Fighting Hawks return quarterback Tommy Schuster, who completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 2,493 yards with 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

He’s complemented by receivers Bo Belquist (535 yards, five TDs), tight end Adam Zavalney (303 yards, four TDs) and running back Isaiah Smith, who had 52 carries for 356 yards — an average of 6.8 yards per carry — to go with a pair of scores last season.

“We are excited about the progress we are making,” North Dakota coach Bubba Schweigert said. “Our season is full of huge possibilities. We are excited to play a Big Ten opponent because this is a tremendous opportunity for our team.”

–Field Level Media

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