EVANSTON, Ill. — Nebraska fans not only made Ryan Field look like Memorial Stadium on Saturday, they also made so much noise in the fourth quarter that they threw a wrench into the home team's plan.
Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, who carried the ball 14 times and caught three passes, said the Wildcats weren't prepared for how disruptive Husker fans were in the final eight minutes of Nebraska's 29-28 victory.
Plenty of noise came during the Huskers' two fourth-quarter touchdown drives that erased their 28-16 deficit. But the biggest roars from NU fans came on the Wildcats' final three drives.
“We ended up having to go silent at the end of the game,” Kolter said. “They travel well and we had to adjust. We didn't prepare for that this whole week. The linemen had trouble hearing the snap count.”
The best the Wildcats could muster from their last three possessions — two following Nebraska touchdowns and the final one after their defense forced a three-and-out — was a 53-yard field-goal attempt by Jeff Budzien that drifted right just before it reached the upright.
“I had all the confidence in Jeff, especially because there wasn't any wind,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “Being at the 35, it was toward the top of his range, but I felt confident in his ability. It just went a little wide right but he had plenty of leg.”
While there are lessons to be learned about closing out a game, both Kolter and Fitzgerald had the same message for how long the Wildcats should dwell on what happened in front of 47,330.
“We're going to have to flush this one pretty quickly and get back at it,” Fitzgerald said. “We've obviously got a big game here next weekend (against Iowa). We have big games left.
“That's the way you have to look at it. We gave ourselves every opportunity to win, but we just didn't make plays down the stretch.”
“Just flush it,” Kolter said. “You're going to have highs and lows in this game of football. Obviously the fashion we lost is disappointing, especially when we felt we had control most of the game.
“We just have to flush it, you know. We've got some big games coming up ahead of us.”
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What made things a little tougher to take was how Northwestern had two opportunities at interceptions on Nebraska's first fourth-quarter TD drive.
On one of those plays, linebackers Damien Proby and David Nwabuisi both had their hands on a Taylor Martinez pass, but the ball eventually fell to the ground.
Fitzgerald managed to make light of the missed opportunity in his postgame press conference.
“I thought we were watching the 'Cats play volleyball,” Fitzgerald said. “We catch the ball, it's a different deal.”
When asked if a play like that can be demoralizing, Proby put things in perspective.
“I would never call being around the ball to make a play demoralizing,” Proby said. “That play was one of those freak things, two players breaking for the ball.
“We all would like to have that ball, of course. We all have to fly to the ball, it's just something that happened on one play.”
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>> Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini after the Northwestern game:
>> Video: Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez after the Northwestern game:
>> Video: Nebraska linebacker Will Compton after the Northwestern game:
>> Video: Jon Nyatawa's postgame analysis: