LINCOLN — For the most part, Nebraska did the little things needed to put away an inferior opponent. Here are the hidden yards won or lost that impacted the game.
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Nebraska’s defense dominated this category against an overmatched opponent. The Huskers applied pressure to quarterback Tim DeMorat en route to three interceptions. Senior safety Deontai Williams had two picks, his first since 2018, and senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann got the first of his career. Conversely, the Huskers fumbled four times, but recovered two of them on a handoff and one of the two muffed punt returns. Adrian Martinez held onto the ball and didn't throw an interception, but backup Logan Smothers fumbled before his first career touchdown.
This was a game with few penalties, each team tallying a single false start until the fourth quarter, when the Rams added a 10-yard holding penalty. One penalty for 5 yards is a huge step toward the Huskers not beating themselves.
Nebraska's defense routinely put the offense in a position to succeed, but it didn’t always pay off. Punter Daniel Cerni slightly improved in limited action, sending two first-half punts for 39 and 41 yards, compared to a 36.2 yard average for Fordham's John O’Friel. However, Cam Taylor-Britt muffed a punt return for a second straight game, giving Fordham the ball on the Nebraska 35. The kickoff return game didn’t show much life with returns of 18 and 17 yards. But Nebraska’s kickoffs were a resounding positive as freshmen Brendan Franke and Kelen Meyer sent all nine of their kickoffs for touchbacks.
By and large, Nebraska did the little things it needed to put an inferior opponent away by halftime. The turnovers were largely inconsequential, but four fumbles (and two lost) compared to none forced is not an appealing margin. Still, the secondary proved its experience and skill with a three takeaways, the special teams was clean performance outside of Taylor-Britt’s blunder and the Huskers limited penalties. The key will now be executing like this against level competition.