Lincoln - Taylor Martinez completed 28-of-37 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to prevent No. 9 Nebraska from being upset by visiting Northwestern, 28-25, at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With their first home loss of the season, the Huskers slipped to 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten while playing in front of the NCAA-record 317th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and a Big Ten Network television audience. Northwestern improved to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the conference.
Despite producing one of the most efficient passing days of his career, and rushing 12 times for 53 yards, Martinez and the Husker offense managed just 25 points against a stingy Wildcat defense.
Martinez and the Huskers managed 397 yards of total offense, but Nebraska trailed from nearly start to finish against the Wildcats. Northwestern produced 470 yards of total offense with a balanced attack that included 261 passing yards and 209 rushing yards.
Northwestern held Nebraska's rushing game to just 122 yards on 35 carries, led by Rex Burkhead's 69 yards on 22 carries. Kain Colter led the Wildcat running game with 17 carries for 58 yards and two scores, while Treyvon Green added 14 carries for 54 yards, and Jacob Schmidt added 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Martinez played a turnover-free game for the Huskers at quarterback, but Nebraska lost two other fumbles. However, the Blackshirts forced three Northwestern turnovers on the afternoon, including Austin Cassidy's interception in the end zone and 50-yard return to set up Nebraska's first touchdown in the third quarter. Northwestern committed just two penalties for 20 yards on the day, while Nebraska was flagged six times for just 41 yards.
The Wildcats led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a two-yard touchdown run by Schmidt.
Nebraska cut the lead to 7-3 at the half on Brett Maher's 36-yard field goal in the second quarter. The Huskers were unable to take advantage of several scoring opportunities in the quarter, including losing a fumble inside the Wildcat 5. The Huskers also lost a fumble on a completed pass later in the quarter as they were approaching the red zone.
Northwestern went up 14-3 early in the third quarter on Colter's three-yard run, before Nebraska answered with Martinez's 15-yard touchdown pass to Tim Marlowe. It was Marlowe's first career touchdown.
The Wildcats struck quickly in the fourth quarter, as Colter connected with Jeremy Ebert on an 81-yard touchdown pass. It was Northwestern's longest play from scrimmage of the season and capped a career-best 147-yard receiving day on six catches for Ebert.
Nebraska answered less than four minutes later to cut the Cat lead to 21-18 on Burkhead's one-yard touchdown plunge and Martinez's ensuing two-point conversion run with 8:55 left in the game.
The Blackshirts needed to stop the Wildcats on the next drive, but Colter engineered a 13-play, 66-yard drive that consumed 7:14 and resulted in his one-yard touchdown run. Northwestern went up 28-18 with 1:34 left and left Nebraska in need of a miracle.
Martinez and the Husker offense answered the call by covering 74 yards in 10 plays and just 1:10 capped by Martinez's 14-yard touchdown strike to Kenny Bell with 18 seconds left.
After Maher's extra point cut the lead to 28-25, he attempted an onside kick to give Martinez and the offense one last shot at victory. But the Wildcats recovered the kick and claimed their first-ever win in Lincoln.
Nebraska returns to road action next week when the Huskers travel to University Park, Pa., to take on Penn State. Kickoff time and television information for the game between Nebraska and the Nittany Lions will be announced by Sunday afternoon.
Final: Northwestern 28, #9 Nebraska 25
Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (NW, 7-0)
NW - 2:08 - Jacob Schmidt 2 run (Jeff Budzien kick) - 13 plays, 80 yards, 4:48, NW 7-0
Second Quarter (NW, 7-3)
NEB - 2:26 - Brett Maher 36 FG - 5 plays, 18 yards, 1:38, NW 7-3
Third Quarter (NW, 14-10)
NW - 12:13 - Kain Colter 3 run (Budzien kick) - 6 plays, 59 yards, 2:39, NW 14-3
NEB - 3:52 - Tim Marlowe 15 pass from Taylor Martinez (Maher kick) - 8 plays, 50 yards, 2:53, NW 14-10
Fourth Quarter (NW, 28-25)
NW - 12:16 - Jeremy Ebert 81 pass from Colter (Budzien kick) - 2 plays, 84 yards, 0:40, NW 21-10
NEB - 8:55 - Rex Burkhead 1 run (2PAT Good, Martinez run) - 12 plays, 74 yards, 3:15, NW 21-18
NW - 1:34 - Colter 1 run (Budzien kick) - 13 plays, 66 yards, 7:14, NW 28-18
NEB - 0:18 - Kenny Bell 14 pass from Martinez (Maher kick) - 10 plays, 74 yards, 1:10, NW 28-25
Final: Northwestern 28, #9 Nebraska 25
Time of Game: 3:15
Game Start: 2:42 p.m. (central)