Score, analysis for Week 3 game (09/16/2017)


Nebraska football dropped a 21-17 game to Northern Illinois Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The Huskers drop to 1-2 with the loss, and will play Rutgers at home next week.

Nebraska-Northern Illinois live updates, score

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at how everything has unfolded, as the game happens:

Final: Nebraska, 17, Northern Illinois 21. The Huskers drop to 1-2 on the season.

Nebraska 17, Northern Illinois 21 (Q4, 3:09): Tanner Lee just threw his third interception of the day, and Nebraska is about to drop this one.

Nebraska 17, Northern Illinois 21 (Q4, 8:52): Well, that was a short-lived lead. The defense made it way too easy for NIU to score.

And here we had been praising the defense. Still some kinks in the system to work out.

Nebraska 17, Northern Illinois 14 (Q4, 11:14): So Wilbon’s hip did touch the ground before the ball crossed into the end zone, so it wasn’t a touchdown.

Didn’t matter much. Lee just took it into the end zone. Huskers are officially ahead.

Nebraska 10, Northern Illinois 14 (Q4, 11:35): Looked like Mikale Wilbon ran it into the end zone for a touchdown, but he may have just been out. The play is under review.

Nebraska 10, Northern Illinois 14 (Q4, 15:00): To the final quarter.

Nebraska 10, Northern Illinois 14 (Q3, 2:33): Drew Brown’s 36-yard field goal is good.

Nebraska 7, Northern Illinois 14 (Q3, 2:33): Devine Ozigbo with his first carry of the season and it came on a very jumbled mess. Still worked.

Nebraska 7, Northern Illinois 14 (Q3, 8:05): With Tre Bryant out, Mikale Wilbon has taken over as the No. 1 running back. He just rushed over the NIU left tackle for 11 yards.

It hasn’t been perfect all game but when he wants yards, he gets them.

Nebraska 7, Northern Illinois 14 (Q3, 8:05): And the Huskers on the board. Took advantage of the fumble recovery and put it in the end zone. Here we go.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Q3, 8:53): Wow. Huskers got a big break on special team. Fumble on punt return and Nebraska recovered.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Q3, 15:00): The temperate had dropped almost 15 degrees since the start of the game. It was about 75 degrees at kickoff. It’s now 61 degrees.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Halftime): Let’s chat about what happened in the first half, shall we?

Nebraska has 201 yards of total offense to NIU’s 88. The Huskers have also had the ball for 19:22, while the Huskies have had it 10:38. Despite all that, Nebraska has yet to score any points.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Halftime): Drew Brown’s field goal attempt was no good, so there’s that. No points for Nebraska in the first half.

It was about as bad as can be. Will the Huskers have a better second half like last week?

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Q2, 7:02): Nebraska’s offensive line is really struggling today. As a result, Lee was just rocked and nearly fumbled.

After a review by the booth, it was determined that Lee held on to the ball. Still looked like a bad hit.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Q2, 10:35): Cole Conrad limped off the field. He has been replaced by Michael Decker at center.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Q2, 11:16): NIU just had a field-goal attempt from the 39-yard line. It went wide right.

A small victory at this point.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Q2, 15:00): Onward.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 14 (Q1, 1:13): And just like that, NIU gets another pick-6.

For what it’s worth, Lee had minimal protection on that. Actually, he had no protection. The offensive line is really struggling this morning.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 7 (Q1, 1:49): Nebraska already has two penalties totaling 22 yards. That’s not great.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 7 (Q1, 4:40): For addition context on how the Blackshirts are doing, the Huskies have just 26 yards of offense on their first 9 plays. That’s split evenly, with 13 on the ground and 13 in the air.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 7 (Q1, 4:49): Blackshirts step up when needed. Force a quick 3-and-out.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 7 (Q1, 5:42): The Huskers are struggling to get anything going offensively after that first drive. It’s like the moment Lee was intercepted, everything went off the rails.

Let’s see how the defense responds. Oh, and that was a nice 51-yard punt for Caleb Lightbourn out of his own end zone. He’s improved significantly over the last year.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 7 (Q1, 7:05): NIU downs a punt on the 2-yard line. That’ll be a fun place to start for the Huskers.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 7 (Q1, 8:45): Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed are your starting safeties. That’s what we expected, until Kalu showed up in full pads. However, it’s hard to imagine they would have really played him with a hamstring injury after saying he’d be out.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 7 (Q1, 11:24): Well, I jinxed it.

Just as I was saying what I was about Lee, he threw it right into the hands of a Northern Illinois player who returned it 87-yards for a touchdown.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 0 (Q1, 13:30): Tanner Lee just had a beautiful 36-yard pass to De’Mornay Pierson-El. If there were any nerves for Lee after Oregon and those 4 interceptions, he’s not showing it today.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 0 (Q1, 15:00): Nebraska could have been in a bit of a situation right away. Tyjon Lindsey wanted to run the kickoff out of the end zone, but would have easily been buried within the 5-yard line.

JD Spielman stopped him and reminded him that he could take a knee. Lindsey’s still learning, so it’s good to have someone like Spielman there to help prevent those disastrous plays.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 0 (Q1, 15:00): Nebraska won the toss and has elected to receive.

Nebraska 0, Northern Illinois 0 (Q1, 15:00): Let’s do this.

Pregame updates

10:50 a.m.: For what it’s worth, Kalu is not listed on today’s depth chart.

10:40 a.m.: Joshua Kalu who was said to be out with a hamstring injury is currently suited up in full pads. Was also announced as a starter.

Could he really be playing? Doubtful, but something to keep an eye on.

10:31 a.m.: Last minute updates? Last minute updates.

8:45 a.m.: The team has arrived.

8:01 a.m.: Quite the rainy start to game day. The good news is that the weather should clear and Lincoln should have about a 4 or 5 hour window to play the game before more thunderstorms roll in.

12 a.m.: It’s game day.

Nebraska-Northern Illinois game time, information

Time: 12 p.m. ET (11 a.m. local)

Date: Saturday, Sept. 16

Location: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

Weather: Partly cloudy in the morning with thunderstorms developing later in the day, high of 91 degrees, 80 percent chance of rain

The line: Nebraska is listed as a 14-point favorite, per MyBookie.

Nebraska-Northern Illinois preview

When Nebraska and Northern Illinois meet on Saturday, it will be the first of four matchups between the two programs between 2017 and 2023. It will also be the third all-time meeting between the two, with the most recent taking place in 1990.

As for this matchup, Nebraska has plenty on the line. After a disappointing 42-35 loss to Oregon on the road, the Huskers want to get back on track and end nonconference play 2-1. A win over Northern Illinois would also extend Nebraska’s home winning streak to nine games.

On offense, quarterback Tanner Lee will look to redeem himself and build confidence after 4 interceptions against the Ducks. Lee received a vote of confidence from offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf earlier in the week, being called “exactly what you’re looking for” at quarterback.

“I think he had a tough game,” Langsdorf said. “I think he was hard on himself about it, which is a good sign for him and our team but I think he’ll bounce back and be great.”

Another area Nebraska looks to address is the secondary. With many young defensive backs, cornerbacks coach Donte Williams addressed the growing pains earlier in the week.

“As a secondary, we’re still learning,” Williams said. “Even the guys that have played, they’re playing new positions. So that day, we weren’t ready. We’ll be ready from now on.”

The Blackshirts are also looking to address the first half problems against Oregon, and planning to capitalize on the second half successes against the Ducks. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco saw the evidence as he made his weekly cutups, noting just how many from the first-half highlights fell into one pile while the second half fell into another.

“It’s just a work in progress and it’s a developmental piece that’s going to take playing in the games,” Diaco said. “You had an opportunity to see it. The players at times were playing and thinking they should be doing XYZ rather than falling back to their training. We had a chance to settle down and play one play at a time, get the call, execute your job, nothing more, nothing less, and see what happens. Sure enough, the plays looked better. Drives were put together. Stops were put together. Before long, a quarter ended and another drive. And then another quarter ended, and you had a chance to get a little bit of a surge there.

“For sure in teaching to say, ‘Hey, this is what it looked like.’”

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