NU tops Nebraska in third straight OT thriller

    Why does Northwestern even play the first four quarters of football games?

    For the third straight game, Northwestern (6-3, 4-2 B1G) has gone to overtime and come out on top. This time, it was a 31-24 victory at Nebraska (4-5, 3-3 B1G), setting the NCAA record for most consecutive games won in overtime.

    The decisive score in overtime was a quarterback sneak by Clayton Thorson on fourth-and-one. Thorson followed center Brad North into the endzone just a play after Nebraska had stuffed another Thorson sneak attempt.

    Thorson was excited for the opportunity to get a touchdown rather than settle for a field goal.

    “There’s no hesitancy. I know our guys are going to get a push up front and I just have to keep my legs going,” Thorson said after the game.

    The call to go for it was a gutsy one by Pat Fitzgerald after the failed sneak attempt on the previous play: if the Thorson didn’t get into the endzone, Nebraska – starting at the 25 – would’ve only needed a field goal to win the game.

    The defense stepped up on the ensuing possession to force a turnover on downs and secure the win. Samdup Miller had a key sack that pushed the Huskers well behind the chains. On fourth-and-11, Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee threw right looking for a first down, but Northwestern safety Kyle Queiro broke up the pass to end the game.

    Overall, the game was fairly sloppy for both teams. Although Thorson had two rushing touchdowns, he completed 19 of 35 passes for 243 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. One pick was in the red zone, and the other was returned for a Nebraska touchdown. The Wildcats also had trouble converting third downs, going just one for 11.

    “Last week, I played a lot better than I did this week, but credit to our defense and the rest of our guys for picking me up because they played real well,” Thorson said.

    Justin Jackson, however, had a great game running the football. He ran the ball 31 times for 156 yards and a touchdown. The big day moved him into seventh in the Big Ten career rushing yards record books, moving him ahead of Lorenzo White and NFL star Melvin Gordon.

    Backup running back Jeremy Larkin also had a nice day, gaining 69 yards on 10 carries and adding an impressive 24-yard score, where he cut back on what looked like a failed play and took it the other way to the house.

    The defense stepped up and took advantage of a Nebraska offensive line that has been struggling. The unit was physical at the line of scrimmage holding Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo to just three yards per carry.

    They also got good pressure on Lee, forcing him to throw three interceptions. The last interception was set up by great pressure from end Joe Gaziano, and safety Godwin Igwebuike came down with the pass, flipping momentum back in the Wildcats favor.

    The win moves Northwestern’s record to 6-3, making them bowl eligible for the third consecutive season. Next week, the Wildcats play Purdue at 6 p.m. at Ryan Field.


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