Rapid Reaction: Late push by Huskers gives Mickey Joseph first Nebraska victory with win over Indiana
Final score: Indiana 21, Nebraska 35
Brief Recap: Saturday’s Week 5 game between Nebraska and Indiana had a little bit of everything, including big plays, defensive touchdowns and blocked kicks. In the end, the Huskers built a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, a 14-point margin they would not relinquish this time around.
The first half proved to be a wild affair with the two sides alternating crazy moments. After Casey Thompson was benched for a drive, backup QB Chubba Purdy fumbled in the end zone after being sacked for an Indiana touchdown.
Then, the Hoosiers provided their own miscue on special teams by allowing the Huskers to get in and block a punt. That blocked punt was returned for a touchdown.
When it was all said and done, the game would not be decided until the fourth quarter. The go-ahead touchdown came when Thompson found a wide-open Trey Palmer for 71 yards down the field. Another long, sustained drive for a short touchdown would cap the game and Mickey Joseph’s first win leading the program.
Key Player: Casey Thompson and Trey Palmer. Despite his early struggles, Thompson responded to go 18-for-27 throwing the ball for 270 yards and 2 TDs while adding a short rushing TD.
Palmer played a huge role in the night as Thompson’s favorite target, reeling in 8 catches for 157 yards and the huge touchdown. It goes down as Palmer’s first 100-yard receiving game as a Husker.
Key Moment: After taking the lead, Nebraska pinned Indiana deep in its own territory and forced a quick 3-and-out. The Huskers responded with a 12-play, 54-yard drive that covered just over 6 minutes of game time.
Eating up that much clock and building the lead to double digits essentially iced the game away. Indiana was unable to do anything else with a couple of late possessions in the game.
Key Stat: 34:51, Nebraska’s time of possession in the win. A lot has been made about the tempo offense for the Hoosiers, but going fast had the opposite effect for Indiana in Week 5.
Indiana finished an abysmal 2-for-15 on 3rd-down plays in the loss and allowed Nebraska to control the ball throughout the second half. It was Indiana’s defense that wore down as Nebraska controlled the clock and built the late lead in the game.
What it means for Indiana moving forward: After starting 3-0, hopes for a bowl game in Bloomington were rising considerably. After back-to-back defeats, the Hoosiers still face an uphill battle to the postseason.
Indiana must still face all the heavy hitters in the B1G East, including a trip to Ohio State and playing Michigan and Penn State at home. Outside of those games, Maryland is looking strong in 2022 and Rutgers is never an easy out under Greg Schiano.
A win over Nebraska would have gone a long way to getting back to the postseason.
What it means for Nebraska moving forward: Speaking of bowl eligibility, Nebraska has a chance to stack some momentum heading into October. The Huskers get games at Rutgers and at Purdue before welcoming suddenly white-hot Illinois to Lincoln.
At this point, Nebraska still has a lot to prove, but that can be said about nearly every team in the B1G West. If the Huskers can steal a couple of wins in October, there remains an outside shot of getting to the postseason.