Well, it took a while, but Scott Frost has his first win as head coach of Nebraska. The Huskers (1-6, 1-4 Big Ten) picked up their long-awaited first win of the season in a 53-28 victory over Minnesota (3-4, 0-4 Big Ten) on Saturday.
Nebraska jumped out to a 28-0 lead on the Gophers in the first half, but a late touchdown by Minnesota at the end of the first half and two scores in the third quarter brought about some concern form the Husker faithful as the lead was trimmed to 28-22. Fortunately for Nebraska, that was as close as Minnesota would get as the Huskers went on a 25-6 run to close out the game.
Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez completed 25 of 29 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns and he rushed for 125 yards and another touchdown for his finest start yet at Nebraska. Devine Ozigbo (152 yards, 2 TD) and Maurice Washington (109 yards, 1 TD) also had big days on the ground in the win as Nebraska rolled up 382 rushing yards as a team.
After the game, it was time to celebrate the win that took longer than expected to celebrate in the Frost Era in Lincoln.
After the game, Frost was awarded the game ball in honor of his first win with the program.
Nebraska was the last program form a power conference to record a win this season. UCLA picked up their first win last week.
Nebraska will now be in great shape to make it two straight wins for Frost as the Huskers will host Bethune-Cookman next week in Lincoln. The game against the FCS program was thrown together as a way to makeup a game against Akron wiped out due to inclement weather in Week 1.
Minnesota, one of two teams without a win in Big Ten play (Rutgers), will look for their first win in the conference next week when they host Indiana. Indiana comes to town after losing a close game to Penn State.
When the door was left open for 5-7 teams to play in a postseason bowl game, the possibility a team could end the year with a win and a losing record become real. On Saturday night, Nebraska (6-7) took advantage of their rare bowl opportunity by running over, around and through UCLA (8-5) in the Foster Farms Bowl in a 37-29 victory. Nebraska ran for 326 yards as a team to wear down UCLA’s defense.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong completed 12 of his 19 selective pass attempts for 174 yards and a touchdown, and he also took off running for 76 hard-earned yards and a touchdown on 10 carries to earn game MVP honors. Devine Ozigbo carried the football 20 times for the Huskers, leading the team with 80 rushing yards. Every time it seemed as though UCLA had taken control of the game, including going up 21-7 midway through the second quarter, Nebraska’s running game found a way to battle back. Mike Riley‘s previous experience in the Pac-12 with Oregon State may have helped prepare a game plan to battle what UCLA does. Riley is now 2-0 against Bruins head coach Jim Mora. Nebraska ripped off 30 straight points before UCLA got back on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Armstrong’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Morgan in the third quarter gave Nebraska its first lead of the game and they never looked back.
Young star quarterback Josh Rosen passed for 319 yards and three touchdowns for UCLA and showed some brilliant touch on his passes at times, but he was also intercepted twice, including one late in the game to help Nebraska seal the game in their favor. Bruins running back Paul Perkins rushed for 68 yards and a score. UCLA managed just 17 first downs and held the football for just under 22 minutes.
For UCLA, this is another disappointing effort for a team that once again failed to live up to any sort of preseason or inseasin hype it seemed to generate. Injuries hurt UCLA at times, but this was a Nebraska team that gave up 55 points to Purdue and lost to Illinois. Nebraska had its share of close calls this season go against them, and one big one go their way against Michigan State, so perhaps a bowl victory was a justified reward for those Husker fans who sat through and took punches to gut on multiple occasions this season.
Nebraska is the second 5-7 team to win a bowl game this season. San Jose State was the first with a win in the Cure Bowl against Georgia State.