LINCOLN, Neb. — When Nebraska needed him most, Tommy Armstrong was there.
Despite limping off the field and a costly mistake early, the senior quarterback showed up in the biggest moments in the biggest game of his career.
The senior quarterback led Nebraska to a thrilling 35-32 victory over No. 22 Oregon with a touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to put Nebraska back in the national standings.
Here are a few things we learned
- Tommy Armstrong is the the man
Armstrong threw three touchdown passes against Oregon and each was gorgeous. The two to Jordan Westerkamp were beautifully placed, where only he could get it.
On the throw to put Nebraska up 21-20, Armstrong found Bryan Reimers wide open and gave him enough room to make a play.
In the first quarter, Armstrong became the Nebraska all-time leader in passing yards. He showed how on Saturday.
- Yes. Oregon really does score that fast.
Armstrong threw the ball backwards in the red zone, Oregon recovered it and took it to the 50-yard line. It only took one play after that for Oregon running back Taj Griffin to bolt 50 yards for a touchdown and a 20-7 Ducks lead. All week Nebraska talked about limiting big plays, and they were right to be concerned. Oregon smelled blood and attacked.
- Devine Ozigbo is the guy
Late in the fourth quarter the Huskers kept feeding Devine Ozigbo. Bit by bit the running back chipped away at a worn-down Oregon defense to milk the clock and drive down the field, which led to Armstrong’s touchdown run.
The sophomore should be the starter from here on out.
- The Nebraska defense showed up when it was needed.
For most of the game, Oregon’s offense didn’t look like Oregon’s offense.
Oregon QB Dakota Prukop had pressure in his face all afternoon, and only threw for 99 yards in the first three quarters.
The Ducks ran for 327 yards, but for the most part, the Huskers kept the Ducks at bay. Other than the 50-yard touchdown, Nebraska kept the big plays to a minimum, which was its main concern.
Then, when the Ducks were driving, the Blackshirts took over and kept Oregon from putting together a game-winning drive.
Turning point: De’Mornay Pierson-El is alive and well and doing what he did two years ago: providing a spark when Nebraska needed it.
The junior punt returner ran back a punt back 41 yards to the Oregon 19-yard line after Nebraska’s offense couldn’t seem to get anything going in the second quarter.
Pierson-El was even hit on the play before he caught the ball, but was able to squeeze away and break out.
Pierson-El has been able to make big plays in the past when Nebraska couldn’t and it came at the perfect time again.
Nebraska would not have been in the game without Pierson-El’s spark.
Statistically speaking: Zero interceptions for Armstrong.
Yes, there was the fumble, but Armstrong tucked and run or went out of bounds instead of forcing balls down field. Only one or two could have been picked off, which for Armstrong is a win.
What it means: Everything. This program just turned into the leader in the Big Ten West, and is a team that showed the nation it can play, and beat, some of the best.
The Nebraska football program just declared to the college football world that it’s not that 6-7 team from a year ago. The Huskers are slowly regaining a sense of who they were.