BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — No. 10 Nebraska finally finished off Indiana on Saturday.
They needed Stanley Morgan Jr. to take advantage of two Indiana safeties running into one another for a 72-yard TD catch. They needed a break from the officials — and the replay booth — when Terrell Newby nearly lost a fumble with the Cornhuskers clinging to a two-point lead with 2:06 to play. They needed a 39-yard field goal with 45 seconds left to force the Hoosiers to drive for a touchdown, and they needed an interception on the Hoosiers’ final series to close out a 27-22 victory.
No, it wasn’t pretty and it certainly wasn’t easy. But for the first time in 15 years, Nebraska has won its first six games.
"Great teams win games," quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. said. "That’s all I got to say about it. You can say what you want about it, but all we do is come out and win games."
Nebraska (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) has won seven straight overall and five straight in this series, which was played for the first time since 1978.
Afterward, relieved Nebraska players and coaches were just glad to be heading home still in charge of the conference’s West Division.
The improving Hoosiers (3-3, 1-2), meanwhile, sure didn’t make it easy as they chased their first win over a top 10 team since 1987.
Nebraska scored the first 17 points courtesy of a field goal and two TDs in a 14-second span.
Indiana scored the next 15 and finally got into the end zone on the final play of the third quarter with a 33-yard TD run from Devine Redding on a fake reverse.
Morgan’s TD catch finally gave Nebraska the upper hand, and all the Hoosiers could muster after that was Redding’s 4-yard TD catch that made it 24-22 with 8:26 to play. The Cornhuskers played keep away the rest of the night.
"Three weeks in a row, play three pretty good games. One game we eliminate the mistakes and we get a victory," Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. "The other two weeks, we make mistakes and we lose the games."
Nebraska: The ‘Huskers could start to lock up the Big Ten West over the next two weeks. Nebraska is the only unbeaten team left on that side of the conference standings, and No. 8 Wisconsin comes to town in two weeks. A win there — or a loss by the Badgers before then — would make Nebraska a clear favorite to book a trip to December’s Big Ten championship game.
Indiana: The Hoosiers are in solid shape heading into an easier second half. They’ve already upset one ranked team, seriously challenged two more and their usually maligned defense has proven it can hold up. That bodes well for the Hoosiers, who need three wins to become bowl eligible in two straight seasons for the first time in a quarter century.
Armstrong was held in check, running 11 times for 36 yards while going 10 of 26 for 208 yards through the air. Morgan had three catches for 93 yards and Newby ran 22 times for 102 yards. Indiana’s Lagow completed 19 of 32 passes for 196 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. His top target was Mitchell Paige, who had nine catches for 101 yards. Ricky Jones had six catches for 76 yards for Indiana.
Nebraska: This week, the Cornhuskers cracked the Top 10 for the first time in five years, and they should continue moving up. How high they’ll go depends on everyone in front of them.
Indiana: The Hoosiers might be getting closer to a major breakthrough, but don’t expect them to end their 22-year absence in the rankings this week.
Nebraska: Now the Cornhuskers have something to prove against Purdue. A year ago, the Boilermakers stunned Nebraska. But after Iowa’s 49-35 victory, the Boilermakers are reeling and Nebraska needs to keep the momentum rolling before facing No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 2 Ohio State.
Indiana: After finishing a brutal stretch against three straight Top 20 foes, the Hoosiers visit underperforming Northwestern. For the Hoosiers, it’s a chance to get back on the right track with two more winnable games after next week.