Instant takes: Nebraska 56, Northwestern 7
Here are some instant takes and observations from Nebraska's dominating performance over Northwestern in a 56-7 victory.
Frost aggressive with play-calling
Husker nation asked for big plays and Nebraska delivered.
On the first play of the game, quarterback Adrian Martinez launched the ball deep to a waiting Samori Toure who came back and caught the ball for a 70-yard gain. Toure was drug down at the five-yard line. Martinez punched it in two plays later, 7-0 Huskers.
Head coach Scott Frost chose to set the tone with an aggressive first play and he did not let up with the play calls.
Running back Jaquez Yant powered to a 64-yard gain to the Northwestern four-yard line. Yet again, Martinez rushed for a one-yard touchdown two plays later and NU went up two touchdowns with nine minutes left in the first quarter.
Yant's 64-yard rush and Toure's 70-yard catch gave Nebraska eight plays of over 50 yards this season, the Huskers most since 2014.
In the remaining of the first half, Martinez had a 25-yard rushing touchdown and delivered a 28-yard strike to Omar Manning to begin the second quarter.
Wide receiver Levi Falck had an 18-yard reception and running back Rahmir Johnson had a 23-yard rush on the same drive. Johnson punched in a nine-yard touchdown to finish the drive 35-7.
While the play call didn’t pan out, Frost continued to be aggressive and went for it on 4th-and-5 but the pass fell incomplete to wide receiver Brody Belt.
That was the only time Nebraska didn't score on an offensive possession in the first half.
After halftime, the Huskers sent a message with an 83-yard run from Zavier Betts for a touchdown to go up 41-7.
In Nebraska's last drive before putting in the second string, Martinez connected with Toure for a 38-yard touchdown, boosting NU to a 49-7 lead.
Frost was aggressive all game long. The Huskers' offense could have let up while they led 41-7 in the third quarter, but the first team used the final drive to put an exclamation point on their near-perfect performance.
A near-perfect effort
The Huskers didn't have one penalty in the first half. Its first came on a pass interference call early in the third quarter. NU finished with four penalties for 19 yards.
Nebraska didn't punt until six minutes remaining in the third quarter when the Huskers' second string took over behind backup quarterback Logan Smothers.
Punter William Pryzstup had an 84-yard bomb to pin Northwestern at their own eight-yard line. He tied Sam Koch, currently Ravens punter, for the second-longest punt in Nebraska history.
Behind Martinez, Nebraska averaged 11.3 yards per play through two and a half quarters. They had 405 yards in the first half and finished with 667 total yards of offense.
The Huskers had three players with over 100 yards and two more with over 74 yards. Martinez went 11-for-17 for 202 yards, one passing touchdown and three rushing touchdowns.
The point is that Nebraska had an incredible performance in all three phases. The offense was more than explosive and didn't give up a turnover. There weren't any catastrophic special teams mistakes for the first game this season. Actually, NU's special teams did great. Kicker Connor Culp connected on all eight of his extra points.
And of course, the Huskers' defense played another sound game with three forced fumbles, recovering one. They had four sacks and six tackles for loss, including three from linebacker JoJo Domann.
Northwestern's only score came on back-to-back passes to Stephon Robinson Jr. for a 32-yard gain and a 23-yard touchdown. Outside of that and a 43-yard catch by Malik Washington, NU's defense kept the Wildcats in check.
Offensive line change-ups
Nebraska's offensive line has consistently been its biggest weakness. But not against Northwestern.
The Huskers' O-line looked different with Teddy Prochazka at left tackle, Nouri Nouili at left guard, Cam Jurgens at center, Matt Sitcherman at right guard and Turner Corcoran at right tackle.
The left side looked completely different but did their job by protecting Martinez and blocked well for Nebraska's running plays to the left side.
The offensive line only had one penalty which was a false start by right tackle Bryce Benhart when he came with the second string in the third quarter.
Martinez didn't get sacked by Northwestern. He was sacked seven times against Michigan State. These are very different defenses but still an impressive feat.
Frost and his staff should give this line in its entirety an opportunity to show what they've got against a more challenging opponent: Michigan.
Nebraska needs to capitalize on this win's momentum against the Wolverines. That matchup just got interesting.
But for now, the Huskers should relish in the best win in the Frost era.