Huskers pull away in second half to win conference opener


His touchdown was set up by a 63-yard punt return by De'Mornay Pierson-El.

That score would hold into the second quarter, Lee threw his eighth interception of the season to set up a 33-yard field goal by Andrew Harte to put the Scarlet Knights up 10-7.

In easily the most tumultuous week of the Mike Riley era, Nebraska desperately needed a victory over Rutgers on Saturday to try and calm the waters around the program, if only for another week. The drive was sustained on a play that was likely an internet sensation long before the game was over.

On the first drive of the second half, Lee threw his ninth interception of the season and third pick-six.

Nebraska's second touchdown was scored on a four-yard plunge by Mikale Wilbon with 4:48 left in the half. From the first drive - which like against Washington turned out to be Rutgers' best of the game - Bolin exuded confidence with downfield passes up the middle and first-down completions to graduate transfer Ahmir Mitchell, sophomore Dacoven Bailey, freshman Hunter Hayek and junior tight end Jerome Washington.

Both teams started out the game strong, despite being a piping 94 degrees on the field at the time of kickoff.

Lee connected with JD Spielman with an 18-yard scoring strike in the first quarter for the Huskers, which tied the game after Rutgers scored on its first possession.

It was a rocky start to the game for quarterback Tanner Lee and NU's offense, as they only managed 308 total yards on the day and spotted Rutgers with a pick-six in the third quarter.

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Malik Davis led the rushing with 93 yards, Tyrie Cleveland topped receivers with 110 yards and a touchdown. Johnson finished the game completing 17 of 25 pass attempts for 196 yards and three touchdowns.

The Huskers' running game vastly outplayed the defense before it, amassing 197 total yards compared to Rutgers' 68.

Leading rusher Tre Bryant (299 yards) was forced to miss last week with a lingering knee injury, and he remains questionable for this weekend; his presence was missed against Northern Illinois, as the Cornhuskers ran for a season-low 85 yards and averaged a season-worst 2.4 yards per carry.

The Husker offense rode their momentum into the fourth quarter putting up an early field goal, while NU's defense shut down Rutgers' offense, only giving up 7 yards on the ground and 25 in the air.

Pierson-El contributed three catches for 22 yards and a touchdown, which gave Nebraska the lead for good at 21-17 with 2:49 left in the third quarter. That capped a 97-yard, 17-play drive, and gave Nebraska a lead it would not cede. "The second half we wore out, just the lack of a deputy on the defensive line". "Lots of good teaching, lots of good football".

"We just keep getting better". "The guys care a bunch and then they go in and do the jobs and execute the defense. and there's a deep understanding of the plan because they put the win in".

"We got a third-down opportunity there and we don't fundamentally play it properly", Diaco said.

After an upset at the hands of Northern Illinois and an athletic director firing, the Huskers were vulnerable to a Rutgers win, especially after its thrashing of Eastern Michigan last week, 65-0. Despite the short week, Riley is confident the team will be ready. "There were plays there to be made but we didn't make them".