Sjuts' Slant: Indiana defeats Nebraska, 38-31
On a day where Nebraska wore alternative black uniforms, the Huskers didn't play like the Blackshirts of Husker lore. Nebraska allowed 38 points and yielded more than 450 yards in a frustrating loss to Indiana. The Hoosiers were led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who passed for a career-high 351 yards and two touchdowns. With the win, Indiana became bowl eligibile, while the Huskers lost their second straight game.
Following the contest, Nebraska head coach Scott Frost gave an honest assessment of his team, calling it "just okay" in terms of skill and effort. Frost says the Huskers played well enough to win, but found a new way to lose a football game. Nebraska was doomed by shaky defensive play and untimely penalties. The Huskers played without regularly-starting quarterback Adrian Martinez on Saturday.
Nebraska built a double-digit lead in the first half, but was unable to stop the Hoosiers' late surge. Ramsey, making his third start of the season , put the Hoosiers up 31-24 with a 2-yard pass to tight end Matt Bjorson on the last play of the third quarter.
Kanawai Noa fumbled on the Huskers' next possession, and the Hoosiers went 57 yards for a two-touchdown lead with 12 minutes left.
Ramsey, the two-year starter before being beaten out by Penix in the preseason, completed 27 of 40 passes while making Indiana eligible for a bowl for the first time since 2016. Philyor caught 14 passes in a game for the second time this season.
Nebraska started Noah Vedral in place of the injured Adrian Martinez, and he was helped off the field in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury.
Freshman Luke McCaffrey entered and, on his second series, led a six-play, 74-yard touchdown drive for a 21-16 halftime lead.
David Ellis put the Hoosiers up 24-21, and it was tied after Barret Pickering's 30-yard field goal for Nebraska.
The Hoosiers regained the lead on Ramsey's 2-yard pass to Bjorson, and after Noa fumbled, Steve Scott ran 9 yards for a two-touchdown lead after the Hoosiers converted a fourth-and-7.
McCaffrey led a quick scoring drive that Wan'Dale Robinson finished with a 4-yard run to pull the Huskers within seven.
Vedral returned for the Huskers' final drive, but they turned the ball over on downs near midfield and the Hoosiers ran out the clock.
Indiana: There really is no drop-off with Ramsey at quarterback. He played one of his best games for the Hoosiers, who riddled the Huskers with crossing routes and other short passes. The defense came in ranked 18th nationally, but it struggles when going against better-than-average offenses.
Nebraska: The Huskers' defense had no answer for Ramsey, and the offense hurt itself with two turnovers that were turned into touchdowns. Robinson continues to be the most consistent offensive weapon, and JD Spielman remains the most dependable receiver with five catches for 97 yards.
Indiana hosts Northwestern on Nov. 2.
Nebraska visits Purdue on Nov. 2.
-Dose of reality, Part 1: Seeing Nebraska as an underdog against Indiana. Dose of reality, Part 2: Seeing Nebraska lose to Indiana in Lincoln.
-A guy named Peyton Ramsey picked Nebraska apart. Let's give Indiana's #2 QB some credit. He was extremely prepared for the game & filled in admirably for the Hoosiers. But Nebraska's top defenders shouldn't allow a regular back-up at Indiana pass for 351 yards and two touchdowns.
-Don't expect to see those jerseys again. Though they're my favorite alternate uniforms Nebraska has worn.
-Perfect day for football. Weather was absolutely gorgeous.
-JD Spielman needs to touch the ball more. 5 receptions (and a completed pass) isn't enough in my opinion.
-Scott Frost's halftime radio interview was something. He used the phrase "dumb-ass stupid" when voicing his frustrations. Frost was audibly upset with the mounting mistakes. Mind you, the Huskers were winning at halftime.
-Lots of big picture talk after the game. Mentions of 'doing things the right way' and off-field characteristics that bleed into gameday. Its 8 games into the season.
-For the 'Wait 'til Frost gets his players crowd': Over half of the roster is Frost-recruited players. Remember the mass exodus upon Frost hiring & the subsequent roster turnover? See above point. Not all 'bad-habit guys' are carry-overs from the previous regime.
-Let's talk quarterback play. Noah Vedral and Luke McCaffrey combine to go 19-of-22 for 274 yards. Zero interceptions (though Vedral had a fumble). No team should ever lose with a QB stat line like that.
-On the topic of McCaffrey, the youngster has a bright future. I love the rollout plays where the Indiana defense didn't know whether he'd tuck-and-run or throw. See the Kanawai Noa TD reception. Noa was wide open. Cornerback came up looking to play the run. McCaffrey has some wheels, too. No one should be surprised considering his bloodlines.
-Penalties. Nebraska and Indiana each had 6. The difference was the timing of the Huskers'. They seemed to be at pivotal moments in the game.
-The 1st-half play calling was fun. Wide receiver pass. A sneak-snap on 4th-and-1. The triple option. All good stuff, and those play calls really got the crowd involved early.
-Good to see Barret Pickering back on the field. The sophomore placekicker made his 2019 debut after missing the first six games with an injury. Pickering went 1-for-2 on field goals and made all 3 PATs.
-Indiana is bowl eligible. Nebraska needs two more wins. That may happen, or it may not. At this point, its hard to say Purdue or Maryland is a "winnable game." Fans have to hope that Saturday's loss to Indiana doesn't set the course for the final month of the regular season.
-Up next: a trip to West Lafayette. For those going, eating at "The Beef House" is a must. It'll make the trip worthwhile.... no matter the result.