LINCOLN, Neb. — In a way, Nebraska’s 52-17 win over Wyoming was a close blowout, if there is such a thing.
At times, Nebraska kept Wyoming hanging around. And had the Cowboys been able to capitalize on some huge miscues by the Huskers, the game easily could have come down to the wire.
Wyoming, of course, didn’t capitalize. And Nebraska blew open the game with three interceptions and a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter and ended up embarrassing the Cowboys in the 35-point rout.
Here are a few things we learned in the win:
1. Balance Shmalence
So much for the “Nebraska Will Run Teams Into The Ground” narrative.
The Huskers threw the ball 35 times Saturday and racked up 412 passing yards. This comes just one week after Nebraska ran more than 50 times for nearly 300 yards in the season opener.
Tommy Armstrong looked like his old gunslinger-self, passing for three touchdowns and also throwing a pick in the end zone.
The scales of Nebraska’s offense are now about even, but not because they’ve shown a balanced attack in two games. One run-heavy week and followed by a pass-heavy week really makes you wonder what this team is going to be like in Big Ten play. Does this team actually have balance or will it be a week-to-week thing? We actually left this game with more questions about Nebraska’s offense than we had coming in.
The most important thing we’ve learned so far is that Nebraska can move the ball. It’s just a matter of how.
2. The Husker D-line is unreal
Despite the injury to Mick Stoltenberg, the Nebraska defensive line was the most impressive group on the field Saturday.
Redshirt freshman Carlos Davis played well in place of the injured Stoltenberg and senior Ross Dzuris was, once again, dominant.
The defensive line kept Wyoming running back Brian Hill in check all day. The Huskers stuffed Hill on two different third-and-short situations in the first half, and kept their second straight team to under 100 yards rushing.
Quietly, the defensive line is becoming one of the most consistent parts of this 2-0 team.
3. Nebraska still can’t close out a half
For the second straight game, the opposing team drove downfield in the final two minutes and scored, going into halftime with momentum.
Wyoming scored on a beautiful throw by quarterback Josh Allen on fourth-and-12, and was able to bring the Cowboys to with 10 points at 17-7.
Nebraska was able to close out the game, but the score at the half made for a nervous Memorial Stadium during the break.
4. Alonzo Moore is a beast
In the first half, the senior receiver broke away for a 63-yard touchdown after running a great slant route.
Last season Moore racked up 395 yards receiving total. By halftime of the Wyoming game, Moore had 201 yards on six catches, two of which scored touchdowns on the season.
Moore is the deep threat Armstrong needs, and is turning into the other option for Armstrong, who has always heavily leaned on Jordan Westerkamp.
5. Devine Ozigbo is the starting running back
Despite senior Terell Newby having a better yards-per-carry, sophomore Devine Ozigbo carried the team again with 15 rushes.
He only racked up 44 yards but did score a touchdown. The sophomore started the game and going forward, it wouldn’t be shocking if Ozigbo continues to get double the carries Newby does.
Nebraska entered the third quarter ahead by just seven points. That quickly turned in 21 in about two minutes.
On third-and-3, Armstrong found Newby on a check-down, which saved the drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter. A few plays later, Armstrong found Jordan Westerkamp in the end zone for his second touchdown pass on the day, and 56th career touchdown.
Nebraska went up 31-17 after that play and Nebraska (finally) got enough breathing room. After a bad pass from Wyoming QB Josh Allen turned into a fumble and the Huskers took over at the 1-yard line, Ozigbo ran in touchdown. Nebraska then took a 38-18 lead, and the game was about over.
Question looming: What happens next week?
When Nebraska was only up 17-10 and couldn’t move the ball, it gave Wyoming the ball at midfield after fake punt? Next week, Oregon scores and makes Nebraska pay. Wyoming didn’t.
A good football team will make Nebraska pay dearly for their mistakes and Oregon is a very good football team. Next week will test Nebraska most in one way: Can you limit dumb penalties, and put the pedal to the medal even when you’re leading?
One interception. Armstrong only threw one interception on Saturday, but it was in the end zone. If anything, it just shows that the pattern isn’t broken. That when Armstrong throws a lot, he’s going to get picked off. That’s just the way it goes with Armstrong.
We’ll have to take the bad with the good.
What it means
The 52-17 win is a huge margin of victory, but there were countless times it felt like this game could have gone down to the wire.
Next week, Nebraska will need to be better early on.