LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska’s offense stalled at times in Southern Miss territory, but the Huskers did enough to down the Conference USA opponent, 38-26 on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Eagles were on Nebraska’s side of the field with less than a minute to play, but Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens took a sack on first-down which ultimately drained the clock.
"Well, I guess it's really true, it's never easy,” said head coach Mike Riley. “I think everyone gets an overall picture of what that game was. We played pretty well early but we didn't capitalize in the red zone with touchdowns.”
Nebraska (2-2) found themselves up big at halftime behind five field goals from sophomore Drew Brown, who tied a NCAA record for most in a half. His 50-yarder as time expired put the Huskers up 22-0.
“What might have been different point-wise even with scoring the number of times we did, the point differential wasn't very big and those things can't... It seems like those things are destined to come back and haunt you,” said Riley.
After giving up a career high in passing yards last week to Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, the Nebraska passing defense continued to struggle on Saturday, giving up over 400 yards through the air.
“We get into that game where that team on offense grew in confidence with what they were doing and could do as the game went on,” said Riley. “They've been very productive coming into this game, then they just got that rhythm of what they saw they could work on and get and made some great plays and got back in it. Fortunately, we made enough plays to either gain field position or score that one last time that we did. We could've used more points out of those early opportunities.
The Huskers got an unexpected big day from fullback Andy Janovich, who had 121 combined yards, a career high, on just five touches.
"He is a really good football player and had one of the best special teams game I've seen just about ever a week ago,” said Riley. “He's just a good all-around player. He's obviously versatile. He can catch. He can run. He'll run down on kicks and he'll block on kick returns. That's what you have to do in the whole coaching world, is utilize the talent you have, and Andy's a good player. I don't know if every game running-wise will work out like that for our fullback, but it certainly was good today."
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. passed for 368 yards, the fourth time he’s gone over 300 yards in the last five games.
Nebraska defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun recorded his team-leading third and fourth sacks of the season with a nine-yard sack in the second quarter and an eight-yard sack on the final play of the game. Akinmoladun has at least one tackle for loss in all four games this season.
Nebraska will kickoff Big Ten play next Saturday against Illinois, a contest slated for 2:30 p.m. CT.