What went right:
Freshman running back Justin Jackson once again had a strong day, though 99 of his 128 yards came in the first half.
Northwestern’s defensive line also had a strong first half, holding Ameer Abdullah to just 39 yards on nine rushes. They tackled well, limiting Abdullah’s yards after contact.
What went wrong:
Jackson may have owned the first half, but Abdullah had the last laugh.
After Jackson rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Abdullah exploded for 107 yards and three touchdowns in the second.
Senior quarterback Trevor Siemian looked off for most of the game, struggling under pressure and completing only five passes for 25 yards in the second half.
The Huskers adjusted well to the Wildcats’ run game in the second half, shutting down the outside zone and rendering the offense one-dimensional. The Cornhuskers’ defensive line was then free to rush Siemian, who was sacked four times on the day.
What it means:
NU now has to go at least 3-2 in its final five games to make a bowl game. With a few tough games left, the Cats will have to make improvements on both sides of the ball.
NU currently has no consistent way to move the ball if Jackson is slowed down on the ground. If the Cats want to compete in the Big Ten the rest of the way, they’ll have to establish some type of big-play threat in the passing game that will allow them to sustain drives and keep the defense from tiring out.
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