LINCOLN — Nebraska added yet another chapter to its saga with Northwestern, this time with a 13-10 win at home on a last-second 24-yard field goal by Lane McCallum.
Backup quarterback Noah Vedral — in for an injured Adrian Martinez — had Nebraska at the 50-yard-line with three minutes left, but first-and-10 quickly turned into fourth-and-14, and Northwestern took over for a 2-minute drill.
Redshirt junior quarterback Aidan Smith — in his first start for Northwestern — drove the Wildcats back near midfield, but corner Lamar Jackson picked Smith off to give the Huskers one more shot.
Vedral nailed a 32-yard pass to Wan’Dale Robinson down the sideline to put the Huskers at the 16-yard line. Two keepers from Vedral put the ball at the 7-yard line. McCallum, who began the year as a safety, knocked in a 24-yarder for the win.
Vedral finished the game 2 for 5 for 41 yards. Martinez completed 13 of 20 passes for 145 yards and ran for 26 yards. Smith completed 19 of 32 passes for 136 yards. He ran for 64 yards and a score.
Nebraska was hardly at full strength throughout the game. Maruice Washington didn’t play in the first half. JD Spielman didn’t play most of the second half and was ruled out with an undisclosed injury at the beginning of the fourth. And Martinez missed the entire fourth.
Per usual, most of the game was a rock fight between these two NUs.
The Huskers led the Wildcats 10-3 at halftime thanks to a 42-yard touchdown run by Robinson.
Midway through the second, Martinez made two plays on third down — a 5-yard scramble, then a 24-yard pass rolling to his left to Austin Allen — which led to NU’s second score. On fourth-and-1, Scott Frost elected to kick instead of going for it. McCallum — to the pleasant surprise of Memorial Stadium — hit a 35-yarder for 10-0.
A 50-yard kickoff return by Riley Lees set up the Wildcats' first scoring drive. Charlie Kuhbander barely got his 40-yard field goal over the crossbar, but it cleared to cut the lead to 7.
The score stayed there for the final five minutes of the half as both teams failed to move past the 50. Neither team gained more than 150 yards in the first 30 minutes.
Northwestern shook off those struggles and averaged nearly 10 yards per play on an easy drive to open the half. Smith dove in from 2 yards to tie the game at 10 with 11:20 left in the third.
Martinez hit Robinson for 24 yards to start the next drive, but on third down, Washington was walloped in the backfield and Northwestern took back over.
The Nebraska defense held, and Robinson took off for 49 yards on a nifty flip from Martinez to put NU in the red zone. McCallum missed a 29-yard field goal as it hit the upright to keep the game tied at 10.
The third quarter ended with Martinez rushing for four yards on third-and-5, then hobbling off the field directly into the medical tent. He did not return.
Vedral’s first drive began with a 7-yard dart up the middle. That was met with a false start, and two straight runs that netted 0 yards.
Northwestern took over and a 15-yard penalty on JoJo Domann, followed by a 15-yard penalty on Carlos Davis put the ball at the Nebraska 23. Mohamed Barry tracked down John Moten across the middle to force a field goal. Kuhbander sailed a 34-yard field goal wide right to keep it 10-10 with 8:25 left.
Vedral got Nebraska near midfield, but Frost elected to punt on fourth-and-1 and give Northwestern the ball back with 5:56 left.
An illegal block then false start put the Wildcats at second-and-25 from the 10-yard line, which they didn’t recover from, so Vedral took back over with 3:08 left right at the 50-yard line.
After a pass out of bounds, a run that lost four yards from Robinson and an incomplete pass, Northwestern got the ball with 2:13 left at the 25.
That's when Lamar Jackson came through with the pick, followed by Vedral's pass to Robinson, and the game-winner, payback for last season's overtime loss by just three points in Chicago.