Northern Illinois intercepted Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee three times and returned two of them for touchdowns on the way to a 21-17 road upset of the Cornhuskers.
The first interception was an 87-yard pick-six by cornerback Shawun Lurry in the first quarter. Later in the quarter, linebacker Jawuan Johnson returned a second Lee interception for a 25-yard touchdown for a 14-0 lead.
Lee was interception-free until Nebraska’s final possession. Northern Illinois went up 21-17 thanks to a 6-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard touchdown run by Jordan Huff with less than nine minutes left.
Nebraska had the ball with 3:09 left and a chance to get a game-winning touchdown, but Lee threw his final pick on fourth and 14 after he was sacked on third down.
NIU got a nice check for its win too.
In addition to $820K for today's game, NIU had gotten $1.027 million from Nebraska when 2016 game set for Chicago was canceled
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) September 16, 2017
After losing to Oregon in Week 2, Nebraska is now 1-2. And that one win came in a nail-biter against Arkansas State at home in Week 1.
After the game, Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst said he was angry and disappointed.
“I think it’s important for everybody to understand when you have tough days like today, you have to stand up and show strong leadership,” Eichorst said via Nebraska’s Rivals site HuskerOnline.com. “I’m going to do that and I’m going to continue to do that. I don’t think I’ve hid from any of that stuff. It is what it is. We’ve got to get better and we’ve got to find a way to get better and I’m confident that we will.”
A big problem for the Huskers has been Lee’s propensity for turnovers. The Tulane transfer was touted as a potential breakout quarterback in 2017 but he’s thrown seven interceptions over the last two games. He’s also completed less than 55 percent of his passes.
With Big Ten play about to start, it’s hard to get optimistic about Nebraska. While Lee has to improve, so does the offensive line. Lee made a bunch of throws under duress on Saturday. No offense to Northern Illinois, but Big Ten teams will probably generate some more pressure. And the road to six wins looks a little rocky.
While Nebraska has games against Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers on the schedule, there’s no other game right now where Nebraska would be a clear favorite. Coach Mike Riley’s team is going to need to improve in a hurry.
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• ESPN accidentally airs old Notre Dame photo with naked man
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