It was McNeese State from the FCS ranks that put the Nebraska Cornhuskers on the ropes. The Cowboys from Lake Charles, Louisiana, were ranked 6th in the FCS top 25 before they arrived in Lincoln, and they gave the #19 Nebraska Cornhuskers a major run for their money in the early set of games. Nebraska survived 31-24 thanks to a great play from Ameer Abdullah.
The Huskers got off to a rough start, and kept having rough plays and series throughout the game. On the first drive of the game, it appeared the Cornhuskers would have gone three and out, but they went for it on fourth and one near midfield, where Ameer Abdullah was stuffed for a loss of 5 yards. The Nebraska offensive line struggled like this throughout the game, as Abdullah was held under 100 total rushing yards for the first time in a long time. This would set up the Cowboys with excellent field position and they would take advantage as they drove down the field to take the opening score to lead by seven on a Derrick Milton 9 yard touchdown rush.
Nebraska would respond again on the following drive when they would see Tommy Armstrong Jr. open up the Nebraska scoring with a 40 yard touchdown pass to Jordan Westerkamp. It was a big play because it was a conversion on third and ten and otherwise Nebraska would not have scored on this early possession. Nebraska's blackshirt defense rose to the occasion on the next Cowboy possession with a three and out. Tommy Armstrong Jr. ended up having a 42 yard rush on the drive to get Nebraska into the red zone. Abdullah would put the exclamation point on the drive though, getting a 2 yard touchdown rush.
The Blackshirts shut off the next drive around midfield and the Huskers would end up getting the ball at their own 20. They started to go deep down the field and had the ball all the way to the Cowboy 9 yard line. It looked like Nebraska was going to get a two touchdown lead and ride off into the sunset.
But that was not what Cowboy cornerback Aaron Sam had in mind. He decided to jump a route and take the ball 98 yards back for a Cowboy touchdown. It was a brutal pick 6 that ensured the Cowboys would be in the game longer than they would have been expected. It was a huge mistake by Tommy Armstrong Jr, who will desperately need to improve in order to the Cornhuskers to continue to challenge in the Big 10 West.
Armstrong would return on the next drive though and ran several times before he would get a touchdown on a fourth and goal from the one. It was eerily reminiscent for former Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, where he would make a major mistake, and then make plays that make everyone forget about the awful mistake he just made. Hopefully that is just a one game thing, as far as the mistakes are concerned. The score at the end of the first half was 21-14 Huskers.
The third quarter was scary quiet on the scoring front, as the Nebraska Cornhuskers would only score a field goal by Drew Brown in the red zone. Of the three drives Nebraska had on offense in the quarter, they only recorded one first down and that was again Tommy Armstrong Jr. breaking lose for a 34 yard run to get the ball to the Cowboy 13 yard line. Huskers would lead 24-14 heading into the final quarter of the game.
Cowboy quarterback Daniel Sams would have a major play early in the fourth quarter though, converting a fourth and 5, gaining 26 yards on the ground to get it to the Cornhusker 1 yard line. Tyler Bolfing would get it into the end zone from there with a 1 yard touchdown run.
After a few punts for both teams, the Cowboys started on another drive all the way back at the Cowboy 5 yard line. They ended up slowly and methodically driving all the way down the field to the Cornhusker 2 yard line, where they had third and goal. Dylan Long lost 5 yards on a rush and the Cowboys would settle for a field goal to tie the game with just over 4 minutes remaining. Both teams had a three and out before Nebraska would get the ball back with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter. The third and six on that drive was where Armstong Jr. would hit Ameer Abdullah for what is possibly going to be the Husker play of the year.
Words cannot describe how awesome Abdullah is on that play. He is simply amazing and that was the ball game. When the Cowboys got the ball back, they threw an interception and the time ran out. The Cornhuskers were fortunate in this game to come out with a win. It definitely reminds this writer of the season opener against the Wyoming Cowboys at home last year, where they almost blew the game in the final quarter. Nebraska will need to continue to improve to stay undefeated as they travel out to California to play the Fresno State Bulldogs next Saturday the 13th.