Nebraska Football Game Preview: Week Six at Northwestern Wildcats



I can only describe the current state of Nebraska football by invoking the words of C. Montgomery Burns during “Last Exit to Springfield,” an episode of The Simpsons widely considered to be among the best of all time. Mr. Burns told Waylon Smithers: “oh it didn’t use to be like this. It didn’t use to be like this at all.”

Among the 128 FBS programs, Nebraska is one of ten to win at least 800 games. Nebraska football has more victories against power five opponents than any other program, as well as the fifth most victories all-time, behind only Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, and Alabama. Yet here they are, headed to Ryan Field 0-5, 0-3 in league play and substantial underdogs to a Northwestern Wildcats team with a losing record. Yes indeed, year one under Scott Frost has had more “Growing Pains” than Alan Thicke and Kirk Cameron combined.


NU Bowl FYIs

SPREAD: Northwestern – 5 1/2

Broadcast: 11 a.m. central Saturday October 13th

WGN Radio- Dave Eanet, Ted Albrecht

ABC TV- Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath (see above and below, and/or at this link)


Nebraska football Preview 

The 0-5 start is tied for the worst in school history. The other year it happened was 1945, much simpler times when everyone here in the United States of America agreed that Nazis were evil monsters. (Versus 2018, where there’s actually one running to be the Congressional representative of my hometown district)

NU is currently on a nine game losing streak, which is the worst in school history. Major credit to Frost though, he tells it like it is about as much as a college football coach can. Kudos to his calling out the players dancing joyously on the sideline when they’re getting their blown out of the building. The main issue here is the defense, or lack there of.

They are currently 105th nationally in total defense, 108th (out of 130) against the run. These are obviously not the Blackshirts; not by a very long shot. 


Nebraksa has given up 40+ points in their last six league games (50+ in four of those). That’s bad enough to be the second worst streak of this sort in conference history.

It is worth noting of course that the numbers look a lot worse now after the gashing by Wisconsin last week. Yes, the Badgers do run right over, around and through everybody, but they have also been known roll up their biggest games this decade against Nebraska. The Melvin Gordon game, the 2012 Big Ten championship tilt, and on and on. 

On the flip side, Nebraska football fans have a lot to be excited about in regards to the future of their offense. It’s in good hands with freshman QB Adrian Martinez, who went over 400 yards for the second straight week. He’s starting to evoke another quarterback named Martinez, Taylor who rewrote a small part of the Nebraska football record book.

Now he just needs a T-Magic type nickname. 

taylor martinez

“He gets better every week,” said Frost of Martinez.

“I think his pocket presence got better. I think he started to create, both second halves the last two weeks. I thought he came out and ran and other teams had trouble tackling him. I’d like to see that start a little earlier in the game. He still had some freshman things the other day, a couple balls that if he had been in the right place with his eyes, would’ve gotten us even more plays.”

“We kind of got lucky he didn’t throw a couple picks, Wisconsin didn’t catch them. So there’s still some things like that happening, but kind of what I said after the game, he’s going to be special.”


Northwestern Week 7 Injury Report

LB Nathan Fox – OUT
LB Nate Hall – OUT
PK Charlie Kuhbander – OUT
CB Greg Newsome II – OUT

Northwestern Wildcats Preview:

Get ready for the resistible force meeting the movable object. Northwestern comes into this one second to last nationally in rushing yards per game (77.4 ypg). Only San Jose State is worse at 53.2, and NU is going to go with a running back by committee approach until they finally figure out who might be able to replace Jeremy Larkin.

It seems clear now that John Moten IV isn’t going to be the guy.

On the other hand, quarterback Clayton Thorson is coming off a career day in the upset win over Michigan State. 

Pat Fitzgerald had a lot of praise for Clayton Thorson after win in East Lansing: “I think he’s a warrior, everything that’s he’s overcome just to play in the opener. I think he’s finally getting himself closer to 100% and that gives him a lot of confidence. He’s a winner and terrific as a leader.”

clayton thorson

You can say goodbye to the concept of the Michigan State “No Fly Zone” as well. It’s more like deregulated, laissez-faire airspace these days, as Thorson threw three TD passes (tying a career high he’s set nine times before) to lead the Wildcats to a massive 29-19 upset victory over the #20 Michigan State Spartans.

Thorson ruined Homecoming (second time in three years) for the favored by double digits hosts, as he nearly finished with career highs in attempts at 47 (he’s had 52 twice), completions at 31 (he’s had 33 twice) and yards (finishing with 373, ten shy of his career single game best).

He did at least surpass one personal record, as his career longest pass of 66 was eclipsed when he connected with Kyric McGowan for a 77 yard touchdown in the first quarter.

“He’s fun to watch,” Frost said of Thorson.

“He’s a gamer and looks like someone that’s reliable, that you can count on, makes plays when you need him.”

pat fitzgerald

For whatever reason, the home team is 1-6 in this series, and that 1 was a fluke victory achieved by a Hail Mary from a third string quarterback. Asked about this at his weekly news conference on Monday, Fitzgerald evaded the question and instead talked about how great Nebraska’s fans are.

“Since we’ve played Nebraska there has been no fan base to get to know better than theirs,” he said.

Honestly, I do agree with him on that. “Nebraska Nice” is a very much a real thing. In an era where I get online trolls, hate, physical harm threats etc. from every single college football fan base imaginable, Husker fans are above such deplorable nonsense.

They really are the most polite lot that you’ll ever meet in this game.

Prediction: Northwestern Wildcats 35, Nebraska football 31

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Sound Cloud and YouTube. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to any and all of his.

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