No. 5 Ohio State avoids upset, escapes Nebraska with 26-17 victory

·3 min read

Nebraska came up just short yet again.

The Huskers had their chances against No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday, but could just not make the plays down the stretch to pull off the upset. Instead, the Buckeyes escaped Lincoln with a 26-17 victory to improve to 8-1 and keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive and well.

It wasn’t the prettiest performance from the Buckeyes. The run game was largely bottled up by an underrated Nebraska defense and OSU quarterback CJ Stroud threw two interceptions and put the ball in harm’s way far too often.

In the end, though, the Buckeyes were able to take advantage of Nebraska’s special teams woes and extend their winning streak to eight games.

Nebraska entered the day 7-of-13 on field goals for the season, yet coach Scott Frost opted to kick on multiple fourth-down plays deep in Ohio State territory. On three separate occasions, Frost sent out Chase Contreraz for field goals. He missed a 45-yarder on fourth-and-4 from the OSU 27, made a 39-yarder on fourth-and-6 from the OSU 21 and missed a 31-yarder on fourth-and-4 from the OSU 13.

That third field goal try came in the fourth quarter when Ohio State’s lead was just 23-17. Frost could have kept his offense out there with the chance to take the lead. Instead, Nebraska’s special teams struggles continued, Contreraz missed the kick and Nebraska would never advance into Ohio State territory again.

The Frost era in Lincoln has been plagued by heartbreaking losses for the Huskers, who are now 3-7 on the year. 

During Frost’s tenure, the Huskers are 5-18 in one-possession games. It was nearly 5-19, but Ohio State added a 46-yard field goal with 1:29 to play to make it a two-possession game and ultimately seal the victory.

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 6: Quarterback C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes passes against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first half at Memorial Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
Quarterback C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes passes against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first half at Memorial Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

What does this mean for Ohio State?

The Buckeyes were not very sharp last week against Penn State. Again on Saturday, there was some sloppy play — particularly on offense. Stroud missed some throws early, forced too many balls into traffic and had questionable decision-making on the whole.

Other than allowing a few big plays, the OSU defense played a strong game. Ryan Day is going to have a lot to clean up offensively, though, as the Buckeyes continue their season.

Next on the schedule is a visit from a pesky Purdue team before OSU’s top two competitors in the Big Ten East close out the season. The Buckeyes will host Michigan State, which is currently undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the CFP rankings. The season finale comes on the road against No. 7 Michigan, OSU’s archrival. The Buckeyes currently have an eight-game winning streak and have won 15 of the last 16 in the series.

What's next for Nebraska?

The administration at Nebraska is going to have a decision to make with Frost. 

Following Saturday's loss, the Huskers are 15-27 with a 10-23 Big Ten record during Frost's four years as the head coach of his alma mater. Even a casual observer can see that Nebraska has gotten better. The Huskers play really hard for Frost, but it hasn't translated into wins. 

Nebraska, now 3-7, will miss a bowl game for the fourth straight season under Frost and have yet to have a winning season under his watch. 

Nebraska now has a bye week before closing out its season against two ranked teams: No. 21 Wisconsin on the road and No. 22 Iowa at home.