Northwestern suffered a gut-wrenching loss in Lincoln as the team fell 13-10 thanks to a Nebraska field goal as time expired. After falling down 10-0 in the first half, the Wildcats attempted to mount a comeback that fell just short due to a lack of execution as well as a terrible missed call on what proved to be the game’s decisive turnover.
Here is the weekly stock report following another tough Northwestern loss:
The sophomore corner got the start in the second cornerback slot behind Greg Newsome II and made the most of his opportunity, looking comfortable dropping back in coverage all fame long. Ruiz led the team with six solo tackles before he exited in the third quarter with an injury, hurting himself chasing down Wan’Dale Robinson on what would’ve been a touchdown if not for his tackle.
After struggling to make plays in the open field to start the season, Northwestern’s defenders did an unbelievable job of shutting down the Nebraska offense in one-on-one situations and limiting the big play. Aside from a few huge plays from the Mondale Moore-like Robinson, one of the most talented true freshmen in the country, the Wildcat defense was rock-solid wrapping up, especially on third down. The bottom line is that the NU defense made more than enough plays to put Northwestern’s offense in the position to win.
The offensive line
Kurt Anderson’s unit deserves a ton of credit for their performance on Saturday. In a tough road environment without their starting left tackle, the men up front gave Drake Anderson plenty of room to run all day and gave Smith plenty of time to throw as well.
The unit allowed just one sack (a hail mary to end the first half) and for the most part won the battle in the trenches. The interior dominated in both the run and pass game, and Ethan Wiederkehr and Gunnar Vogel stepped up after each struggled mightily at times over the last couple of weeks.
The junior wideout was NU’s bright spot on offense today. Lees led the team with seven catches and looked to have a good chemistry with Aidan Smith throughout the entire game. On special teams, his 50-yard kick return in the first half gave the team a much-needed spark when nothing seemed to be going right, and he displayed knowledge of both the rules and the right time to let punts drop in front of him all game long.
Aidan Smith’s arm
Smith’s legs arguably kept Northwestern in this game at times, but his decision-making and medium-deep passes were shaky at best. He forced himself into some ill-advised throws and didn’t look too comfortable throwing the ball any time he was going more than ten yards down the field.
Explosive offense plays
The offense failed to connect on a single throw down the field. Northwestern’s longest pass and play of the day was a 23-yard catch-and-run from Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman in the third quarter. The shots down the field were limited once again, and the Wildcats’ longest run of the day, despite consistency in that aspect down the stretch, was just 12 yards.
Kuhbander’s gotta make that kick. The wind was tough and he deserves credit for connecting on that 40-yarder earlier in the game, but NU missed out on a golden chance to take its first lead of the game deep into the fourth quarter. The junior looked to be turning a corner from a confidence standpoint, but this miss will certainly be a setback.
Honorable mentions: the refs, clock management, first half play-calling, defensive havoc plays, Nebraska special teams, using a QB spy, the wind