Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In a back-and-forth contest, Northwestern came up with a huge victory in Lincoln. The Wildcats responded after two straight blowout losses to beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers 30-28. The victory moves the Wildcats to 6-2 on the season and makes them bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012. Here are some quick stats and takeaways from the game.

  • This is Northwestern’s first victory against the Huskers since 2011, when QB Kain Colter led the Wildcats to a dramatic 28-25 victory over then #10-ranked Nebraska.
  • It was a close game throughout, but the ‘Cats’ offense was a tale of two halves. Northwestern had five drives of three yards or less in the first half, and only one such drive in the second half.
  • Nebraska ran 31 more plays and had nearly 18 more minutes of possession time, but Northwestern’s defense stepped up by forcing six Husker punts and stopping a potential game-tying two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
  • With Matthew Harris out and Keith Watkins struggling in coverage for much of the game, Nick Van Hoose stepped up in a big way. Van Hoose returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, giving Northwestern a 14-5 lead at the time and providing a boost for the Wildcats when the offense was struggling.
  • Speaking of big plays, Clayton Thorson had himself a few of his own. A 68-yard run led to the ‘Cats’ first touchdown, and Thorson followed that up with a 49-yard run that led to a Jack Mitchell field goal just before halftime. Not to mention, Thorson found Dan Vitale on a 37-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter that proved to be the deciding score of the game.
  • It was a big win, but not everything was positive for Northwestern on Saturday. A couple of undisciplined penalties (including a sideline interference penalty on a Northwestern coach on what would’ve been a defensive stop) hurt the ‘Cats and gave Nebraska added opportunities. Drops were also an issue, including a key drop from Christian Jones that negated a would-be touchdown just before halftime.
  • Thorson completed only four passes for 16 yards before halftime, but seemed to make some adjustments at the break. He completed nine passes in the second half, racking up 161 yards and the late touchdown to Vitale. Thorson looked shaky at many points during this game, but he made the plays with his legs and arm when he needed to. And for all the difficulty he’s had adjusting to defenses, he stands at a respectable 2-2 in B1G play.
  • Dean Lowry came to play, posting a program-record six tackles for loss as well as two sacks. The defense was able to get pressure on Tommy Armstrong for much of the day, something the defensive front was unable to do in the losses to Michigan and Iowa.
  • Not to be overlooked, Northwestern’s sixth win of the season makes them bowl eligible for the first time since 2012 and guarantees a better record than the past two seasons. With four games still remaining on the schedule, the Wildcats can now focus on moving up in the standings and improving their bowl slot.
  • The Wildcats have a bye next week before returning home Nov. 7 against Penn State.
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