Nebraska football: Full stock report following Week 11 loss to Maryland
Nebraska’s hopes of reaching its first 6-win season (and a bowl game) since 2016 will have to wait. Beyond those hopes, how the Huskers squandered a golden opportunity at home in Week 11 is a question that will linger for some time.
Coming into the matchup, Maryland was reeling after losing 4 straight games. The Terrapins also played like a team on their heels for much of the game and were all out of sorts in the first half.
Unfortunately, Nebraska was equally out of sorts in a game that was winnable down to the final minutes of the game. The Huskers ultimately turned the ball over 5 times, and the last one was the worst of all.
With 10 minutes left in the game and their backs against their own end zone, the Huskers drove 90 yards while eating up over 6 minutes of time off the clock. Nebraska was even facing a 3rd-and-goal situation with 3 and a half minutes left in the game when Chubba Purdy threw an interception.
Instead of scoring a touchdown or kicking a go-ahead field goal, Nebraska watched as Maryland rolled back down the field to kick a game-winning field goal as time expired. Needless to say, this one will sting for a while as the Huskers regroup to face Wisconsin and Iowa to end the season.
Player of the Week: Javin Wright
It should not be surprising, but no player on offense deserves the nod here (though Emmett Johnson continued his strong play in the backfield). However, Wright’s effort is strong enough regardless of the final score.
In the third quarter, Wright picked off Taulia Tagovailoa near midfield for a crucial takeaway. As a result, Nebraska would kick a field goal to give the Huskers a 10-7 lead in the second half.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Wright delivered another game-changing play. With Maryland deep in Husker territory, Wright forced a fumble with Roman Hemby near the 3-yard line. Ty Robinson would recover to take potential points off the board.
Overall, Wright led the team with 8 tackles, recorded an interception and forced a fumble in what was another strong performance from Nebraska’s defense.
Newcomer of the Week: K Tristan Alvano
Freshman kicker Tristan Alvano has set aside some early-season struggles to develop into a consistent weapon for the Huskers. He has not missed a kick since the win over Illinois and came through when called on against Maryland. Alvano was pure on a 38-yard field goal to give the Huskers a lead in the third quarter and also added an extra point to improve to 24-for-24 on PATs. In the end, one of the biggest regrets for Nebraska will be that Alvano did not get another try late in the game.
Biggest Surprise: Lack of stops on 3rd down
Overall, the Nebraska defense did not have a terrible game, but it fell short in some key areas from what fans have seen all season long. In particular, the Huskers allowed Maryland to convert 6-for-13 on 3rd-down conversions and some of the worst instances came on the final drive of the game.
Maryland converted a pair of 3rd-down plays on the final drive of the game, including a pass interference call no Tommi Hill on 3rd-and-10 that would have forced a quick punt by the Terps. The Huskers also allowed a 21-yard gain by Hemby — his longest of the day — on that final drive.
This loss cannot be placed on the shoulders of the defense considering the other issues at play, but it was a surprise that the unit fell short in some of these key situations.
Biggest Concern: Ball security
What else is there to be said about the turnover issues of the program? The play of the quarterback room could also be placed here, but more on that in a bit.
Nebraska’s defense forced 3 turnovers against the Terrapins with 10 points scored off of those takeaways. Yet, somehow, the Huskers still managed to lose the turnover battle. That is simply inexcusable.
Developing Trend: Who is the QB?
Who is the QB1 in Lincoln? Heinrich Haarberg maintained that spot coming into the week after 3 turnovers in a loss to Michigan State, but he was dinged up and threw another interception against Maryland.
Right now, the brutal realization for Nebraska is that it does not matter who lines up under center. The trio of Haarberg, Jeff Sims and Chubba Purdy show the harsh reality that Nebraska does not have a player equipped to take care of the ball.
Sims was the worst offender Saturday with 3 total turnovers against the Terps. Haarberg also had an interception, and Purdy’s pick late in the fourth quarter was Nebraska’s 5th turnover of the game. It resulted in a -2 turnover margin for the Huskers.
Nebraska might not have anywhere to turn, other than running the ball 60 times a game no matter who lines up under center.
First impressions for Week 12
After back-to-back losses, Nebraska will hit the road to face similarly reeling Wisconsin. Luke Fickell and the Badgers have lost 3 straight, including a 24-10 home loss to Northwestern in Week 11.
Remarkably, Nebraska and Wisconsin both have a shot to play back into a tie for the B1G West title entering Week 12, but it will take some help from Illinois against Iowa. However, the bigger concern for both teams is finding some offense.
For the Badgers, Tanner Mordecai and Braelon Allen did return against the Wildcats, but Allen had just 3 carries after trying to give things a go. Mordecai played the entire game but Wisconsin needs some punch to the passing attack if it wants to find success.