Huskers Dominate Maryland Setting Up Black Friday Game for Bowl Eligibility

Huskers Dominate Maryland Setting Up Black Friday Game for Bowl Eligibility

“I’ve seen it coming for a long time,” said coach Scott Frost.

Nebraska(5-6, 3-5 Big Ten) hadn’t put all three phases together at the same time all season. That changed Saturday in a 54-7 win on the road.

“We were overdue to get some breaks,” said Frost. “I was really happy with team just having the enthusiasm they had and playing for each other and playing together.”

The Huskers punted on the first possession, a start that fans could expect with the up and down year. Maryland(3-9, 1-7 Big Ten) then coughed up their first turnover of the game on a fumble, setting up Nebraska with a short field.

Two plays later, it was junior Dedrick Mills punching it in from six yards out.

Maryland would then punt on their next possession. The Huskers drove 77 yards on 11 plays, while burning more than four minutes of game time, and capped off another touchdown drive with sophomore Adrian Martinez getting the call.

Then things became very clear that it was going to be Nebraska’s day, and all the bounces would go in one direction. Senior Isaac Armstrong kicked off short, but the Terrapin returners had trouble getting the handle. Nebraska grabbed their second turnover of the game and another short field opportunity.

Seven plays later, sophomore Matt Waldoch kicked his first career field goal from 29 yards out to increase the lead to 17-0. Waldoch would convert all three of his field goals and all six of his extra point attempts in the ball game.

Another short Terrapin possession ending a punt had Nebraska with the ball in the second quarter, and another extremely unlikely scenario. On third and 11 from the Maryland 25, Martinez threw into double coverage at the goal line. The ball was then tipped by one defender, tipped by another defender, and finally caught by junior JD Spielman for the touchdown.

“I thank JD for that play,” said Martinez. “Some things did go our way, but also I think the guys did a great job of coming out this game with some energy and just being focused on the job we needed to accomplish.”

Another angle.

One of the more interesting developments of this game was the personnel groupings. For instance, freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey saw a number of snaps as the wide receiver position. Having him on the field meant plays like a wide receiver pass were not only possible, but effective for a 28-yard pass.

“We didn’t plan to use Luke (at receiver) until Thursday,” said Frost. “The great thing Mario (Verduzco, quarterbacks coach) does such a great job with the quarterbacks, (Luke) knows everybody’s job. He knows everybody’s role. He’s such a great athlete.”

Frost did add that the move to receiver for McCaffrey was a temporary move.

Martinez would throw an interception, Nebraska’s only turnover of the game, two plays later for a touchback, but Maryland then fumbled it right back a few plays later.

On the final two possessions of the half for the Huskers, Martinez would throw another touchdown to Spielman and Waldoch would knock through another field goal to give Big Red a 34-0 halftime edge.

Nebraska had 313 yards of total offense at the break while holding Maryland to just 128 and three turnovers. It was the largest halftime for the Huskers in the Big Ten since leading Minnesota 34-0 in 2011.

The second half was much of the same, as Nebraska would score on it’s first four possessions, including a freshman Rahmir Johnson run and a McCaffrey run. Both were their first career rushing touchdowns.

The other second half points were field goals, with one from Woldoch and the final one coming from senior Harrison Martin, a Lincoln Lutheran product.

The first shutout since 2009 did not happen though, as Maryland’s Javon Leake broke free for a 58-yard touchdown on their final possession.

Martinez finished the game 16-for-25 for 194 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 10 times for 94 yards and a touchdown. McCaffrey threw the ball 3-for-5 for 32 yards while rushing for 83 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

Spielman caught seven passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the game. The effort helped him eclipse 800 yards on the season for the third time. He is the first Husker to achieve that mark.

The Huskers finished the game with 531 yards of total offense and 31 first downs. The Terrapins were held to 206 yards of offense, including -11 in the third quarter.

The win snaps a four game losing streak, but more importantly keeps Nebraska’s hopes of a bowl alive. In order to reach bowl eligibility though, the they must win a Black Friday date with Iowa(8-3, 5-3 Big Ten). The Huskers own a 29-17-3 edge all-time, but the Hawkeyes have won the last four meetings, and have been victorious in the last three in Lincoln.

“We’re playing a really good team Friday,” said Frost. “They’re one of the best teams in the league.”

Kickoff for Nebraska and Iowa is set for 1:30 p.m. on November 29.

Game Notes

  • Nebraska improved to 2-0 all-time against Maryland in its first-ever visit to Maryland and first game in the state of Maryland. Nebraska’s 47-point margin of victory was its largest in a conference game since 2000, when the Huskers defeated Baylor 59-0.
  • Nebraska scored 54 points in the win, tying for its most points ever in a Big Ten Conference game (also scored 54 points vs. Illinois last season). Nebraska’s 54 points were the most points it has ever scored in a Big Ten Conference road game and the most points a Husker team has scored in any conference road game since the 2008 Big 12 season (56 points at Kansas State).
  • Today’s first-half shutout was Nebraska’s first in a conference game since the blanking the Terrapins 21-0 in Lincoln in 2016.
  • The victory was Nebraska’s first November road win since a 31-14 win at Rutgers on Nov. 14, 2015.
  • Nebraska totaled 531 yards of total offense, including 305 rushing yards and 226 through the air. This marks the fifth time this season the Huskers have surpassed 200 yards both rushing and passing.
  • Junior receiver JD Spielman’s seven receptions increased his career total to 167, moving him into a tie for third place in school history with Jordan Westerkamp. He also passed Nate Swift (166) in today’s game. Spielman increased his career receiving yardage total to 2,512 yards moving him up three spots to third on the NU career receiving yardage list.  He passed Jordan Westerkamp (2,474), Nate Swift (2,476) and Johnny Rodgers (2,479) in the game.
  • Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez increased his career yardage total to 5,734 yards moving him up two spots to fifth in school history. Martinez passed Joe Ganz (5,466) and Tommie Frazier (5,476) in the game.
  • Senior defensive lineman Khalil Davis had 2.5 sacks, increasing his season total to eight sacks, the most by a Husker since Ross Dzuris had nine sacks in 2015.
  • Davis had four tackles, increasing his career total to 102. He joins twin brother, Carlos, in surpassing 100 career tackles. The Davis brothers are the seventh set of brothers and second set of twins in Nebraska history to both surpass 100 career tackles.
  • Freshmen Chris Hickman, Luke McCaffrey and Rahmir Johnson each recorded their first career receptions in today’s game.