Oregon used 14-0 runs to begin and end the first half to claim a 42-14 lead at the half. It would need each and every one of those points as Nebraska pitched a shutout in the second half, but the Ducks still held on for a 42-35 win.
The Ducks (2-0) opened the game with a 75-yard drive capped by a 32-yard strike from Justin Herbert to Brenden Schooler, then intercepted Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee on the Huskers’ first play from scrimmage. Five plays later Herbert fired his second touchdown pass of the afternoon, an 8-yarder to Charles Nelson.
The teams traded touchdowns through the remainder of the first quarter and into the second until Oregon posted a 21-0 run to close the half, turning a 21-14 track meet into a 42-14 lapping, with scoring runs from Royce Freeman and Kani Benoit and, aided by another Lee pick inside his own territory, a third scoring strike from Herbert with 39 ticks left until the break.
Oregon closed the first half with 409 yards of total offense — Herbert was 21-of-25 for 313 yards — and the idea of Nebraska (1-1) defensive coordinator Bob Diaco making second-half adjustments seemed like a dark joke.
And then the second half started.
Nebraska moved 75 yards to pull within 42-21 to open the third quarter, then forced a three-and-out and raced 53 yards to pull within 42-28. And then Herbert was intercepted by Nebraska’s Aaron Williams, but the Huskers gained only two yards on the ensuing possession. This would be a theme for Nebraska.
Oregon’s next touch ended on a turnover on downs, but Lee was intercepted for a third time. The Ducks’ next possession missed a field goal, and then a punt, but Nebraska failed to take advantage both times. Finally, after a Freeman fumble with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter, Nebraska pulled within 42-35 on a 2-yard Mikale Wilbon run.
Oregon went three-and-out again on its next possession, and suddenly Nebraska had the ball at its own 43 and more than two minutes remaining with a chance to tie the game. But Lee was pressured into his fourth interception, into the arms of Ugochukwu Amadi. Oregon would not score in the second half, but Oregon would not need to score in the second half.
Herbert finished the day hitting 25-of-33 throws for 365 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, while Freeman pounded out 29 carries for 153 yards and two scores. Oregon rolled out 566 yards of total offense, well short of the Nebraska opponent record of 656. Nebraska ran for 109 yards as a team, while Lee was 19-of-41 for 252 yards with three scores and four costly interceptions.