Nebraska Cornhuskers Survive a Scare against Southern Miss, Open Big Ten play at Illinois
One week after mounting a furious comeback, and nearly pulling off a dramatic road win at Miami, the Nebraska Cornhuskers saw a team just about do the same thing on their home field, but the Huskers held on to beat Southern Miss 36-28 in Lincoln.
I talked with the 'Voice of the Huskers' Greg Sharpe and he said one of the keys to the game was Nebraska's inability to finish off drives in the first half, resulting in five Drew Brown field goals in the first 30 minutes and a 22-0 lead at the break, which could have easily been a 30-point margin or bigger.
But the Golden Eagles rallied against the weak spot in the Big Red defense - the secondary - and put up three touchdowns late to make the game very interesting. In the end, the Huskers got another solid performance from quarterback Tommy Armstrong (23-of-35 for 368 yards) and good defense for three quarters, to even their record heading into conference play.
The Huskers (2-2) play at Illinois (3-1) in the Big Ten Conference opener Saturday.
There is good news and bad news on the injury front.
On the upside, receiver/kick returner De'Mornay Pierson-El should see his first action since mid-August, after going down with a broken foot. He gives the Huskers a deep threat in the passing game, and on special teams, where he led the nation in punt returns last season.
As for the downside, the injuries on the defense continue to pile up. Linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey is already out for a month, and now Josh Banderas is iffy for the Illinois game with a groin pull. On the line, Vincent Valentine has been slowed with a bad ankle.
Illinois' offense is led by quarterback Wes Lunt, who has thrown for more than 850 yards in four games and is completing better than 60 percent of his passes. Nebraska's defense has yet to show an ability to stop anything through the air this season, giving up nearly 380 yards in passing a game.
Third downs will be a key. Teams are converting just 21% against Illini defense so far in 2015, that is an area that has plagued the Husker offense at times.
Kickoff is 3:00 PM in Champaign. You can follow the Cornhuskers all season long on ESPN 99.1!
Here is my complete interview with Greg on the Southern Miss win and the match-up with Illinois: