Here are the hidden yards that impacted Nebraska's win over Buffalo.
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Neither team turned the ball over until the fourth quarter, when Husker linebacker Luke Reimer snagged his first career interception and returned it 22 yards to the 1-yard line. Nebraska eliminated fumbles this week, and Adrian Martinez still doesn’t have an interception through three games. Unfortunately for the Huskers, they touched a fourth-quarter punt that Buffalo recovered, leading to the third straight game with a punt return turnover.
The Huskers arguably robbed themselves of three touchdowns including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Samori Touré on fourth down that was overturned for an offensive pass interference by another receiver and resulted in a punt. The other was a 40-yard touchdown pass to Zavier Betts overturned for holding. Nebraska punted a few plays later. Backup quarterback Logan Smothers was also dinged for an illegal forward pass on an option touchdown. The Huskers racked up nine penalties for 71 yards, but Buffalo managed to shoot itself in the foot marginally more (10 penalties, 88 yards). The Huskers can’t afford to take so many points off the board against better teams.
The Bulls booted their six punts for an average of 47.8 yards and didn’t let the Huskers return either of two kickoffs. Nebraska’s Daniel Cerni wasn’t perfect, averaging just 36 yards per punt, but the Huskers did land three punts inside Buffalo’s 20-yard line. Brendan Franke sent only three of his five kickoffs for touchbacks this week, but the Bulls’ two returns only got to their own 19 and 27-yard lines.
The Blackshirts forced a turnover on downs late in the second quarter to give the Huskers the ball in Bulls territory, and Reimer’s interception return to Buffalo’s 1-yard line put the Husker offense in a position to succeed. The punt return mishap gave the Bulls a drive starting in Nebraska territory. The Husker defense again put the offense in a position to succeed as they started each drive, the same can’t be said for the special teams. Nebraska’s takeaway led to a score, so they get the ever-so-slight edge here.
Nebraska was on track to win all three categories this week before the punt return blunder. The Huskers probably didn’t need anyone around the ball in that scenario. Martinez and the offense not recording any turnovers was a positive, and the penalty situation could stand to improve. All things considered, the Huskers didn’t beat themselves any more than the Bulls did, allowing their talent to prevail.