Nebraska keeps bowl hopes alive, takes care of Rutgers
Final: Nebraska 31, Rutgers 14
Key play: Tommy Armstrong TD pass to Cethan Carter
With Nebraska leading by a touchdown in the third quarter, Armstrong threw a jump ball in the end zone. It easily could’ve been his fourth interception of the day. Instead, Carter went up and made a play in double coverage for the Nebraska score. Armstrong also took a shot that kept him down on the field, but he stayed in the game. The Huskers went from potentially turning the ball over up a touchdown and losing their quarterback to taking a 14-point lead and keeping their their quarterback in the game. If that’s not a momentum-swinging play, I don’t know what is.
Telling stat: Nebraska has 11 tackles for loss
The Blackshirts have been under plenty of fire this season for their inability to get off the field. On Saturday, they got into the backfield and forced third-and-longs. Greg McMullen racked up three tackles for loss while Dedrick Young and Josh Banderas each had 1.5. That’s an impressive feat against a Rutgers ground attack that has actually been pretty solid this year. But the Huskers controlled the line of scrimmage and didn’t sink down to the level of an inferior team.
-Carter played the game of his life
I expected to see a lot from Carter in Danny Langsdorf’s offense this year. Up until Saturday, we really hadn’t seen much of that. Well, Carter broke out in a big way in a must-win game for the Huskers. He got the offense rolling on a 32-yard end-around. I don’t know how many end-arounds are run to the tight end, but with a guy that has Carter’s athleticism, that’s not too surprising to see. He provided a safety valve for Armstrong throughout the afternoon on a day that it last Michigan State hero Brandon Reilly. Jordan Westerkamp and Alonzo Moore also had scores, but only had a combined four catches. Nebraska needed every bit of Carter’s production.
-Carroo back, but not at his best
After sitting the last two weeks with an ankle injury, the All-B1G receiver tried to give it a go on Saturday. He didn’t look as hobbled as he did against Ohio State three weeks ago, but Carroo was clearly not at 100 percent. Amazingly, he still finished the game with a game-high 62 yards receiving. That says a lot about how much of a competitor he is. Still, it wasn’t nearly enough for Rutgers’ struggling offense to hang around. It’s a shame that Rutgers still can’t figure out consistent offensive options outside of Carroo.
What it means: Rutgers’ bowl dream is dead, Nebraska’s bowl dream is alive
Rutgers had to win out to earn a bowl berth. With the return of Carroo and a favorable schedule, that wouldn’t have been the craziest thing we’ve ever seen. Still, it was unlikely. One more lackluster defensive effort ended that glimmer of hope. Nebraska, on the other hand, earned its first winning streak of the season to keep its bowl hopes alive. There’s a sentence you probably didn’t think you’d see in August. But that was the reality the Huskers were looking at after they lost in West Lafayette two weeks ago. But credit Mike Riley’s team for stepping up when it was at a historic low. A win against unbeaten Michigan State and a 17-point road victory are impressive accomplishments for any team. Now the Huskers are in position to potentially spoil Iowa’s undefeated regular season and clinch a bowl berth in the process. Considering how grim things were two weeks ago, that’s about all you can ask for.