Sep 30, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) runs for a touchdown against Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive lineman Elijah Jeudy (16) during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Michigan throttles Nebraska behind defense, J.J. McCarthy

J.J. McCarthy passed for two touchdowns, both to Roman Wilson, and rushed for another as No. 2 Michigan pounded Nebraska 45-7 at Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday.

McCarthy completed 12 of 16 passes for 156 yards for the Wolverines (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten). Wilson caught four passes for 58 yards in Michigan’s first road test.

Blake Corum led Michigan’s rushing attack with 74 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown.

Cornhuskers quarterback Heinrich Haarberg completed 14 of 25 passes for 199 yards and was intercepted once. Billy Kemp caught four passes for 61 yards for Nebraska (2-3, 0-2).

Josh Fleeks’ 74-yard run with 4:17 remaining spoiled the Wolverines’ shutout bid. Michigan has allowed just 30 points this season.

Michigan cruised to a 28-0 halftime lead.

The Wolverines drove 75 yards in 11 plays after the opening kickoff to take the lead. The touchdown came on McCarthy’s 29-yard scoring pass to Wilson. The wide receiver made a spectacular leaping catch, cradling the ball around a defender’s helmet.

An interception by Kenneth Grant at Nebraska’s 29-yard-line set up Michigan’s next touchdown. Kalel Munnings scored on a 20-yard run midway through the quarter.

Michigan made it 21-0 early in the second quarter. McCarthy had three passes of 10 or more yards during the 88-yard drive, then used his legs for the touchdown, scampering in from 21 yards out.

The Wolverines’ final score of the half came on a 55-yard drive. McCarthy scrambled to his left and found Wilson in the back of the end zone from 16 yards out with 23 seconds left in the quarter.

The Cornhuskers missed a field-goal attempt early in the second half. Michigan took over at its own 22 and methodically drove down the field with Corum carrying the ball seven times. He scored from a yard out to make it 35-0.

James Turner kicked a 30-yard field goal and Jayden Denegal completed an 8-yard scoring strike to Peyton O’Leary with 4:37 left in the game for the Wolverines’ final touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Billy Kemp IV (1) runs against Louisiana Tech Bulldogs defensive back Cecil Singleton Jr. (2) and defensive back Willie Roberts (1) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Heinrich Haarberg, Nebraska run over Louisiana Tech

Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg ran for 157 yards and a touchdown and Nebraska held a fourth straight opponent under 100 rushing yards in a 28-14 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb.

Haarberg, a sophomore making his second career start, had the most rushing yards by a Nebraska QB since Taylor Martinez ran for 205 in a game in 2012. He added 107 passing yards and a TD through the air.

The Cornhuskers (2-2) won back-to-back home games for the first time in two years by controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides. They ran for 312 yards, their third consecutive 200-plus-yard rushing performance, and held the Bulldogs (2-3) to 46 yards on the ground.

After the teams went into halftime tied, Nebraska ran the ball on nine straight plays to open the third quarter and take the lead. Five of those carries were by Grant, who gained 34 on third-and-3 and 19 on fourth-and-1 before scoring from 2 yards out.

It was the sixth career 100-yard game for Grant, who finished with 135 yards on 22 carries.

The Cornhuskers made it 21-7 on the first play of the fourth quarter, a 29-yard TD catch by Thomas Fidone II. Haarberg then broke off a 72-yard TD run with 11:13 left.

Louisiana Tech got 292 passing yards from Jack Turner, who completed 27 of 42 passes and threw a 20-yard TD toss to Cyrus Allen with 5:17 to go. Allen gained 102 yards on six receptions.

Nebraska used trickery to set up its first touchdown, with backup punter Timmy Bleekrode running for 10 yards on a fake field goal. That setup a 9-yard TD run by Billy Kemp IV early in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs immediately responded, tying it at 7 midway through the second on a 14-yard TD run by Jacob Fields.

Louisiana Tech heads to UTEP on Friday for a Conference USA game, while Nebraska hosts No. 2 Michigan on Sept. 30.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Jeff Sims (7) warms up before the game against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska coping with ‘heartbreaking’ injuries, preps for La Tech

Nebraska carries the momentum of its first win this season when it hosts Louisiana Tech in a non-conference game on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb.

The Cornhuskers also carry the pain.

The Cornhuskers (1-2) beat Northern Illinois 35-11 last week in their home opener, the first victory under new coach Matt Rhule and the first at Memorial Stadium in nearly a year. But two of Nebraska’s top three running backs suffered season-ending injuries — junior Rahmir Johnson (shoulder) and sophomore Gabe Ervin Jr. (hip).

“It’s heartbreaking,” Rhule said.

Ervin was leading the team in rushing with 196 yards; Johnson had 65 yards on 12 carries.

Nebraska might see the return of starter Jeff Sims, who will practice this week and could play Saturday. Heinrich Haarberg started this past game, throwing for 158 yards and two TDs and rushing for 98 yards and a score.

Louisiana Tech (2-2) is coming off a 40-37 home loss to North Texas in which it rallied from 17 points down in the final 10 minutes, only to lose on a last-seconds field goal.

“We have to turn the page quickly,” Bulldogs coach Sonny Cumbie said. “That is our challenge as coaches is how do we handle this week and how are we going to get better.”

The Bulldogs are led by former Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who has thrown for 756 yards and five TDs this season, though Jack Turner threw the game-tying TD pass to Smoke Harris against North Texas. Harris has 24 catches for 288 yards and three TDs in 2023.

A Nebraska win would give the team consecutive home victories for the first time since September 2021.

–Field Level Media

Aug 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Jeff Sims (7) hands the ball off to running back Rahmir Johnson (14) during the second quarter against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska loses top two RBs for season; undecided on QB1

Nebraska will proceed without running backs Rahmir Johnson and Gabe Ervin after both were lost to season-ending injuries in Saturday’s win over Northern Illinois.

Head coach Matt Rhule also said Monday that cornerback Dwight Bootle II (shoulder) is out for the remainder of the 2023 season.

Without their top two rushers, the Cornhuskers are going back to 2022 leading rusher Anthony Grant, a sixth-year senior.

“It’s his show now. It’s time to go,” Rhule said Monday.

As for who will take the snaps for Nebraska when the Cornhuskers face Louisiana Tech this week, Rhule isn’t ready to say. On Monday, he indicated there would be no decision made on the starting quarterback job until gameday.

Jeff Sims missed the blowout win over Northern Illinois, when Heinrich Haarberg threw two touchdown passes and ran for another.

“We can win with both guys,” Rhule said.

Johnson dislocated his shoulder, with the injury requiring surgery. Ervin will need surgery for a dislocated hip.

Grant also led the Huskers in carries in 2022 with 218, while gaining 915 net yards, but this season the sixth-year running back opened third on the depth chart. Grant now will be backed-up by Emmett Johnson and Kwinten Ives.

After two games as the starting running back, Ervin led Nebraska with 196 yards and had one touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers tight end Thomas Fidone II (24) scores against the Northern Illinois Huskies during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska stops No. Illinois in coach Matt Rhule’s first win

In his first college start, Heinrich Haarberg threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score to deliver Matt Rhule his first win as coach at Nebraska, 35-11, over Northern Illinois on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

In the home opener for the Cornhuskers (1-2), Haarberg completed 14 of 24 passes for 158 yards and rushed 21 times for 98 yards. The sophomore was subbing for starter Jeff Sims, who suffered a sprained ankle in a loss last week at Colorado.

The Nebraska defense dominated Northern Illinois (1-2), limiting the Huskies to 149 yards and 12 first downs.

Northern Illinois’ lone score of the first half came by way of a turnover as George Gumbs forced a Haarberg fumble that Skylar Gill-Howard recovered at the Cornhuskers’ 5. Four plays later, Jake Seibert kicked a 30-yard field goal.

Aside from that possession, Northern Illinois didn’t cross midfield until the closing minutes, when backup quarterback Ethan Hampton directed a touchdown drive.

Nash Hutmacher had 2 1/2 tackles for a loss to lead the stingy Nebraska defense. Javin Wright added an interception for the Cornhuskers, which set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Anthony Grant in the fourth quarter.

The Cornhuskers limited Huskies quarterback Rocky Lombardi to 11 completions in 28 attempts for 73 yards. Northern Illinois gained 26 yards on 22 rushes.

Nebraska scored on its first possession as Haarberg accounted for all 55 yards of a six-play march, rushing for 19 yards and throwing twice for 36 yards, including 10 on a touchdown pass to Billy Kemp IV.

In the second quarter, Nebraska took over at the Northern Illinois 36 after pinning the Huskies deep in their own territory and forcing a punt. Four plays later, Haarberg found Thomas Fidone II open across the middle for a 16-yard touchdown pass.
The Cornhuskers increased their lead to 21-3 in the third quarter with a 76-yard, 14-play drive, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Gabe Ervin Jr. Haarberg was clutch on the drive, converting four third-down plays, three with passes and one with a run.

Ervin finished with 67 yards on 14 carries. Grant added 46 yards on seven rushes.

– Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA;  LSU Tigers tight end Arik Gilbert (2) runs against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska TE Arik Gilbert arrested for second time in three weeks

Nebraska tight end Arik Gilbert was arrested for a second time in a three-week span on Friday, this time in Lumpkin County, Ga.

According to records from the sheriff’s office there, the Georgia native faces charges of obstruction of officers and smash-and-grab burglary.

On Aug. 29, Gilbert was taken into custody on suspicion of burglary in Lincoln, Neb. In that case, officers responded to a burglary report about 2 a.m. local time and found the glass door to a liquor and vape store shattered.

They found Gilbert, 21, holding a bag containing more than $1,600 worth of stolen items, police said. Damage to the store was estimated at $650.

The former five-star recruit is a two-time transfer currently awaiting an NCAA eligibility ruling after previous stops at LSU (2020) and Georgia (2021-22).

Gilbert was ranked by the 247Sports composite as the No. 1 tight end in the 2020 class, the No. 10 player overall.

He caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman at LSU. He then transferred to his home-state Georgia and appeared in just three games for the Bulldogs, catching two passes for 16 yards and one touchdown last season.

While Nebraska officials have not commented on Friday’s arrest, coach Matt Rhule had this to say after the August arrest:

“Really disappointed, really sad for him,” Rhule said. “When we took Arik, we knew we had a good group of people who could help him through some of the issues he’s dealing with in his life. Had been really proud of the job he had done in the spring and summer. To be honest, during camp he’s had some struggles. He’s been working to overcome them.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Jeff Sims (7) fumbles a snap against the Colorado Buffaloes in the first quarter at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska QB Jeff Sims (ankle) remains uncertain for NIU game

Nebraska coach Matt Rhule did not commit to quarterback Jeff Sims starting for the 0-2 Cornhuskers against Northern Illinois on Saturday due to a lingering left ankle injury.

“I’m not sure what Jeff’s status will be for the game,” Rhule told reporters Thursday. “He’s progressing. … I know he feels like he’s getting better, he’s moving around so we’ll how it goes.”

Earlier in the week, Rhule declared Sims was the program’s starting quarterback despite Sims throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles in two losses to open the 2023 season.

Sims, a Georgia Tech transfer, has completed 20 of 34 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown in the two games. He has been solid on the ground, rushing for 158 yards, including a 57-yard score against Colorado.

Nebraska’s backup options if Sims can’t take the field are Heinrich Haarberg and Chubba Purdy. Rhule said that Purdy, the younger brother of NFL quarterback Brock Purdy, has been bothered by a groin injury and isn’t 100 percent.

–Field Level Media

Aug 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Jeff Sims (7) looks on during the third quarter against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska looks to end struggles at home, hosts Northern Illinois

Nebraska will try to win its first game at home in nearly a year when it hosts Northern Illinois in a nonconference matchup on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

The Cornhuskers (0-2) last won at Memorial Stadium, where they have sold out 389 consecutive games, on Oct. 1, 2022, when they beat Indiana. They have yet to play at home this season, opening the year at Minnesota and Colorado, leading to the latest home opener since 1981.

“We’re excited to play at home, excited to play in front of our fans,” first-year Nebraska coach Matt Rhule said.

Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims lost two fumbles and threw an interception in a 36-14 loss to the Buffaloes after getting picked off three times in the season opener. But Rhule said Sims will under center if an ankle sprain that he suffered against Colorado isn’t too serious.

“Jeff is our starting quarterback,” Rhule said. “That being said, we can’t keep turning the ball over.”

If Sims can’t go, either Heinrich Haarberg or Chubba Purdy will start.

Northern Illinois (1-1) turned it over three times in a 14-11 home loss to FCS Southern Illinois last Saturday, wiping away all the momentum that came from winning at Boston College in the season opener.

The Huskies outgained Southern Illinois 360-217 but only managed to score twice on six possessions that ended up at or inside their opponent’s 35-yard line.

“We just couldn’t get anything going as a team,” NIU coach Thomas Hammock said. “I thought our defense played phenomenally, gave us a chance to win.”

NIU is 7-40-1 all-time against current Big Ten schools, including a win at Nebraska in 2017.

Nebraska has lost to a Group of Five opponent three times since 2017, falling at home to Georgia Southern last September. That defeat led to coach Scott Frost’s firing the next day.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Jeff Sims (7) fumbles a snap against the Colorado Buffaloes in the first quarter at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska to stick with turnover-prone QB Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims is Nebraska’s starting quarterback if his left ankle injury allows him to play in Saturday’s home game against Northern Illinois.

Cornhuskers coach Matt Rhule said Sims is the program’s starting quarterback. The Monday declaration came despite Sims throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles in two losses to open the 2023 season.

“Jeff is our starting quarterback,” Rhule said of Sims, who missed Sunday’s practice. “So if this hadn’t happened, he’d still be out there. That being said, we can’t keep turning the ball over. So there’s that fine line.”

Sims threw three interceptions in a 13-10 road loss at Minnesota on Aug. 31. He threw another pick and lost two fumbles during Saturday’s 36-14 loss at then-No. 22 Colorado.

The Cornhuskers committed eight turnovers in two games and are at minus-6 in the takeaway column.

“When you’re the quarterback, not everything is your fault,” Rhule said. “You snap the ball and hits a guy in motion — sometimes it’s the quarterback’s fault, sometimes it is someone else’s fault.
“This is from the top down, starting with me, we have to be better. We can’t be minus-8. That goes without saying.”

Sims has completed 20 of 34 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown in the two games. He has been solid on the ground, rushing for 158 yards, including a 57-yard score against Colorado.

But the Georgia Tech transfer has always had turnover issues. He committed 31 in three seasons with the Yellow Jackets (23 interceptions, eight fumbles) and his troubles have continued with the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska’s backup options are Heinrich Haarberg and Chubba Purdy. Haarberg went 2-for-6 passing with 13 yards and a touchdown against Colorado while Purdy came in for one play and threw an incompletion after Haarberg’s helmet came off and had to miss a play.

Purdy is the younger brother of Brock Purdy, the former Iowa State star who is making a name for himself as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.

Rhule said Purdy has been bothered by a groin injury.

Haarberg would likely start if Sims can’t play against Northern Illinois (1-1).

“I thought the moment wasn’t too big for him,” Rhule said of Haarberg’s cameo against Colorado. “What I loved about Heinrich is that three times they had a guy blitzing, hitting in him in the face and he stood in there and threw it — that’s the courage that we need. I thought he looked excellent running the ball, which we knew.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders runs on the field before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

‘Just ball out’: No. 22 Buffs, Deion Sanders eye encore vs. Nebraska

It took just one game for new coach Deion Sanders to match Colorado’s 2022 victory total.

The Buffaloes (1-0) also made quite a splash in the debut of “Coach Prime” and are the No. 22-ranked team in the nation entering Saturday’s contest against Nebraska (0-1) in Boulder, Colo.

The overwhelming preseason storyline was that Colorado was in for a long season as it had just 10 returning scholarship players in the program due to Sanders’ roster overhaul that brought in 84 new players.

But last week’s epic 45-42 road victory over TCU — a team that played in last season’s national title game — has prompted a quick change of perception. Suddenly, praise is overflowing and quarterback Shedeur Sanders and two-way standout Travis Hunter are being mentioned as Heisman Trophy candidates.

“Hey man, all we have to do is win. You see all the attention that we’re getting? That has registered now,” Deion Sanders said during Tuesday’s news conference. “These young men, they know now that if we just ball out, we’re going to get the love that we desire. And that’s all they want. They want attention, focus, a little love and light. Ain’t nothing wrong with that as long as they use it in the right way.”

Shedeur Sanders set a school record with 510 passing yards while throwing four touchdown passes, running back Dylan Edwards scored four touchdowns (one rushing, three receiving) in his college debut and Hunter caught 11 passes for 119 yards on offense and intercepted a pass near the goal line on defense.

Hunter, who followed Deion Sanders from Jackson State to Colorado, played a stunning 129 snaps in his Buffaloes debut.

“It’s fun. It’s all in your body, but that’s what you got treatment for,” Hunter said. “I liked it. I like going out there. I didn’t get a touchdown but I got an interception, so that’s just gonna help my stats. That’s gonna help my team.”

Like Deion Sanders, Nebraska’s Matt Rhule also is in his first season at a new school. He coached at Temple and Baylor in the college ranks and spent 2 1/2 seasons with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers before being fired last October.

Rhule said Monday that Colorado’s opening performance wasn’t a stunner to him.

“Coach Sanders is a football guy,” Rhule said. “While you can watch all their practices and stuff on TV, at the end of the day when has he ever not been serious about football? He’s been a head coach now. They’ve got elite players and elite players up and down the front. Every time you have a great quarterback you have a chance to win. I wasn’t surprised at all.”

Rhule’s debut with the Cornhuskers was not a happy one. Nebraska blew a seven-point, fourth-quarter lead as Minnesota scored 10 points in the final 2:32 to post a 13-10 victory.

Dragan Kesich kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired for the Golden Gophers.

Quarterback Jeff Sims was intercepted three times in his Nebraska debut. The former Georgia Tech starter completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for a team-high 91 yards on 19 rushes.

“He’s not the first quarterback that’s ever thrown three interceptions,” Rhule said. “The great ones bounce back from it even better. I think you find out about people when they go through a little bit of adversity.”

Cornhuskers receiver Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda suffered a season-ending ACL tear against Minnesota.

Nebraska leads the all-time series 49-20-2 but Colorado has won the lone two meetings since the Cornhuskers departed the Big 12 for the Big Ten following the 2010 season. The Buffaloes prevailed 34-31 in overtime on Sept. 7, 2019 in Boulder in the most recent meeting.

–Field Level Media