LINCOLN, Neb. – Six of the nine losses Nebraska has suffered under Scott Frost have been by five or fewer points, leaving the second-year coach and his staff once again talking about the importance of finishing their opponent. The Cornhuskers attempt to rebound from a deflating road defeat Saturday when they close out their non-conference schedule at home against Northern Illinois.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Nebraska -14.
Nebraska held a 17-0 lead at Colorado - holding the Buffaloes to only eight first downs and 115 total yards through the first 41:25 of the game - before the offense began to short-circuit and defense fall apart, giving up 349 yards over the remainder of the contest en route to a 34-31 overtime loss. "I don't think there's a fear of failure right now, I just think that the knife was in and we have to twist it. That's the part we've got to get better at. These guys are not afraid to fail … it's just learning how to put a team away once you're up," defensive coordinator Erik Chinander told the Lincoln Journal Star. Although it didn't happen under Frost's watch, the Cornhuskers are unlikely to look past the Huskies, who became the first non-Power Five opponent or major independent to win in Lincoln in 13 years when the teams last met in 2017. Northern Illinois trailed by only four points at halftime at No. 12 Utah last week before getting shut out in the second half in a 35-17 setback.
ABOUT NORTHERN ILLINOIS (1-1)
Tyrice Richie (102 yards versus Illinois State) and Spencer Tears (112 yards against Utah) have each enjoyed 100-yard receiving games, marking the first time since 2015 that the Huskies have had a 100-yard receiver in the first two games of the season. Tears' 112 yards receiving versus the Utes was a career high and pushed him over 1,000 for his career, making him the first Northern Illinois player to reach that milestone since Kenny Golladay in 2015. First-team All Mid-American Conference linebacker Antonio Jones-Davis is five tackles away from 200 for his career, but starting safety Mykelti Williams will be forced to sit for the first half of this game after a targeting call in the second half of last week's contest.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (1-1)
Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez accumulated 356 yards of total offense against the Buffaloes - marking the eighth time in 13 career games he has topped 300 - while his 290 passing yards allowed him to become only the 12th player in school history to top 3,000 for his career. Junior receiver JD Spielman opened the scoring last week with a 65-yard TD catch - his sixth career touchdown of at least 65 yards - and finished with 112 yards receiving, giving him 1,796 for his career to move him into sixth place on the program's all-time list. Sophomore Maurice Washington caught four passes for a career-high 118 yards, becoming only the third Nebraska running back with multiple 100-yard receiving games.
1. The Cornhuskers have won 20 of their last 22 home games played at night.
2. The Huskies, who have won four of their last six games against Big Ten opponents, have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 17 contests.
3. Nebraska has forced seven turnovers through two games after creating only 20 takeaways in 2018.
PREDICTION: Nebraska 31, Northern Illinois 24