Nebraska defeats Michigan behind late heroics; more midday Week 11 Snap Judgments
• Nebraska 17, Michigan 13: Given the relative turmoil in Lincoln this season, the Cornhuskers have been largely forgotten as a Big Ten title contender. Yet after they squeaked by the Wolverines on Saturday — Nebraska’s second come-from-behind victory in as many weeks — coach Bo Pelini’s squad is making a push toward the top of the Legends Division.
In the fourth quarter, the Cornhuskers’ Jordan Westerkamp fumbled a punt return, gift-wrapping a go-ahead field goal for Michigan with 8:08 remaining. But Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. led a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to give the Cornhuskers a 17-13 lead. He hit wideout Kenny Bell for a critical 26-yard completion on fourth-and-two from the Wolverines’ 31-yard line, and he connected with Ameer Abdullah for a five-yard touchdown on an option that turned into a forward pass.
With just over two minutes to play, Devin Gardner tried to lead Michigan on a last-ditch drive, but the quarterback’s incomplete pass on fourth-and-five from his own 41-yard line sealed the result. The defeat was Brady Hoke’s first home loss as the Wolverines’ coach.
One week after Nebraska beat Northwestern on a last-second Hail Mary, the Cornhuskers used solid defense to improve to 7-2. Nebraska held Michigan to just 175 total yards and sacked Gardner seven times. The Wolverines rushed for -21 yards. Just two weeks after the Cornhuskers lost to Minnesota, they seem energized after two straight late victories.
For all of the criticism Pelini has received this season, Nebraska will enter next weekend’s game against Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) in control of its own destiny in the Big Ten. The Spartans had a bye this week, so if the Cornhuskers can overcome Michigan State’s stingy defense, both teams would sit atop the Legends Division with identical league records — but Nebraska holds the tiebreaker.
• USC 62, Cal 28: The Trojans’ special teams came through in a major way during Saturday’s visit to Berkeley. USC had three punt-return touchdowns, the most by any team in a game since 2003, and safety Josh Shaw took a second-quarter blocked punt to the house. Trojans tailback Silas Redd left in the first half with an injured right knee, but Javorius Allen picked up the slack; he rushed for 135 yards and scored three total touchdowns. USC is now 4-1 under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, but things won’t be easy the rest of the way: The Trojans play Stanford (Nov. 16) and UCLA (Nov. 30) in two of their final three games. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 11 Texas A&M 51, Mississippi State 41: Johnny Manziel shone in what was perhaps his final game at Kyle Field. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner threw for 446 yards and tied a career-high with five touchdowns passes, becoming the first SEC quarterback in 10 years to throw for at least four touchdowns in four consecutive games. After the victory, Manziel celebrated with A&M students, many of whom chanted “one more year,” hoping to convince their quarterback not to bolt for the NFL after the season. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 21 Wisconsin 27, BYU 17: The Badgers got things done on both sides of the ball against the Cougars. Wisconsin tailback James White gained 194 all-purpose yards (147 rushing, 47 receiving) and scored three touchdowns, while linebacker Chris Borland (13 tackles, 2 sacks) returned from a hamstring injury to help contain quarterback Taysom Hill and the BYU offense. The Badgers, since losing 31-24 to Ohio State on Sept. 28, have won four straight. They play Indiana next Saturday. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 23 Arizona State 20, Utah 19: Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly passed for a touchdown and ran for another in the fourth quarter to rally Arizona State from a late 19-7 deficit. The Sun Devils offense was stifled by the Utes’ defense for much of the game, but running back Marion Grice rushed for 136 yards to help stave off an upset. Utah threatened on its final drive, but standout defensive tackle Will Sutton intercepted a Travis Wilson pass at the Arizona State 25-yard line to clinch the result. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 13 Oklahoma State 42, Kansas 6: The Cowboys wasted little time asserting their dominance over the Jayhawks. Justin Gilbert returned the opening kickoff 100 yards to set the tone for a first half in which Oklahoma State outscored Kansas 28-0. Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns to help coach Mike Gundy’s team improve to 8-1. [RECAP l BOX]
• Duke 38, NC State 20: By taking down the Wolfpack on Saturday, the Blue Devils clinched their first winning season since they went 8-4 in 1994. In a back-and-forth game that featured six interceptions and eight turnovers, Duke cornerback DeVon Edwards proved the difference. Edwards had two fourth-quarter pick-sixes and a 100-yard kick-return score. [RECAP l BOX]
• Syracuse 20, Maryland 3: After racing to a 5-1 start this fall, the Terrapins seemed like a lock to clinch bowl eligibility. But after three straight losses have dropped their record to 5-4, the future no longer seems so certain. Maryland turned the ball over four times against the Orange on Saturday and gained just 292 total yards. Syracuse converted only 3-of-14 third down opportunities, but got a spark out of running back Jerome Smith, who rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Since losing to Georgia Tech 56-0 on Oct. 19, the Orange has allowed just three points in the last two games. [RECAP l BOX]