Sports

Northern Illinois upsets Nebraska, collects $820K payday

Northern Illinois upsets Nebraska, collects $820K payday

Northern Illinois knocked off Nebraska at home on Saturday in a stunning 21-17 upset. A loss like this will give fans plenty of reason to question the direction of the program as the Huskers are now 1-2 and have dropped consecutive games. Northern Illinois improved to 2-1 with its only setback coming in a 23-20 loss to Boston College in its season opener.

Lee has thrown two pick-sixes in just the first quarter, and NIU leads 14-0. In the last two games, he has attempted 88 passes and suffered seven interceptions - one nearly every 12 attempts.

In fact, the 112 yards returned the other way trumped Lee's 96 yards passing in that first quarter. It trails Northern Illinois 14-0 in Lincoln.

Nebraska played its worst half of football in the first 15 minutes.

While the Nebraska's offense was stagnant, Northern Illinois' wasn't great either. The Huskers mounted a second-half comeback, but a late interception by NIU let the Huskies run out the clock. NIU went 75 yards in six plays, starting with a 47-yard pass from Daniel Santacaterina to Christian Blake and ending with a two-yard Jordan Huff TD. Lee scrambled for a four-yard touchdown two plays later. A field goal with 15 seconds left in the third made it 14-10 Northern Illinois and it stayed that way until Lee scored a touchdown on a one-yard run with 11:14 remaining.

In the third quarter, Nebraska produced 81 yards on 22 plays, compared to just 28 yards on 11 plays by the Huskies to take a 282-116 edge in total yardage to the fourth quarter.

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Nebraska got two more chances with the ball, advancing to the NIU 33 on the first drive before the Huskie defense - as it had nearly all day - stood strong with Mycial Allen defending the fourth and seven attempt and linebacker Kyle Pugh providing pressure. The Blackshirts got another stop with 3:09 left, but Lee was intercepted for the third time on 4th and 14 from the Nebraska 16 with 1:36 left. They no doubt missed starting running back Tre Bryant, who was injured a week ago, but the biggest issue was the offensive line.

Stanley Morgan is in position to join Maurice Purify (2007) as the only Nebraska players to have 100 yards in receptions in three straight games.

Mikale Wilbon, in his first career start, rushed for 90 yards on 24 carries.

Bobby Jones led the Huskies defense with 14 tackles, while Kyle Pugh and Mykel Williams added double-digit tackles.

Northern Illinois has often been one of the strongest Group of Five teams in recent years - it also won at Big Ten teams Northwestern (2014) and Iowa (2013) - but it hasn't been as competitive the past two years, slipping to 5-7 last year.