Nebraska did what it had to in order to keep hopes alive for reaching a bowl game on the road Saturday against Rutgers.
Nebraska’s 31-14 win was a far from perfect performance, but improved the Huskers’ record to 5-6 (3-4) with one game remaining on the regular season schedule.
“It feels good and I know the players feel good about that,” Head Coach Mike Riley said following the win. “It certainly sets up this game with Iowa. It’s a big game for a lot of reasons, but for us they are really obviously. It’s a bowl opportunity.”
Nebraska started strong, jumping to a 21-0 lead over Rutgers in the first 20 minutes of the game. But offensive turnovers started causing problems for the Huskers.
Tommy Armstrong was intercepted on three consecutive possessions (two in the second quarter and one in the third quarter) which led to 14 points for Rutgers. Outside of those short field touchdowns, Nebraska’s defense held up well against the Rutgers’ offense, even with the return of star wide receiver Leonte Carroo.
The Husker defense was able to get its best pressure on the quarterback this season, forcing six sacks and two interceptions.
Offensively, Nebraska tight end Cethan Carter had the best game of his career for Nebraska, rushing for a touchdown and receiving for another on a pass from Armstrong. Carter ended the game with 57 yards receiving to lead Nebraska. Imani Cross carried the load on the ground for the Huskers for the second game in a row. Cross rushed a season high 20 times for 90 yards.
“The credit goes to this group because they’ve continued to stick with it,” Mike Riley said. “It’s that story, I’ve been talking about for a long time that was sounding like a broken record, but I really believe it’s true. I think this team just continued to work. We broke through.”
The Huskers are mentally already preparing for the final challenge of the regular season, against Iowa.
“It sets the tone for the season and how we want to end it,” said defensive end Maliek Collins. “We want to go out with a bang this year. It’s huge for this program.”
After playing 11 consecutive weeks, Nebraska now has its bye week. The Huskers hosts Iowa on the Friday after Thanksgiving at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.