Sims struggles once again as Nebraska football loses lopsided contest against No. 22 Colorado | Sports
The last time Nebraska beat an AP Top 25 team was on Sept. 17, 2016, over the No. 22 Oregon Ducks. The Huskers’ last win over a ranked team on the road was on Nov. 12, 2011, over No. 12 Penn State.
Nebraska had a chance to break both of these droughts on Saturday against No. 22 Colorado while also spoiling Deion Sanders’ home debut. But the Huskers came up empty-handed in the end, losing 36-14.
The turnover battle proved to be the main reason for the loss, as Nebraska turned the ball over four times in the game, the same number as in last week’s 13-10 loss to Minnesota.
“We always talk about ‘don’t beat ourself,’ and protecting the ball is the main key to that,” senior wide receiver Billy Kemp IV said postgame. “So, like I said, we just have to keep practicing, and working on protecting the ball.”
The Huskers came out hot on offense to start the game, moving the ball downfield to the 31-yard line, including two passes by junior quarterback Jeff Sims for 17 and 21 yards. However, the drive came to a screeching halt when Sims fumbled the snap, allowing the Buffaloes to recover the ball at the 35-yard line.
Colorado also moved the ball well on its first drive, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and intentional grounding killed it, forcing a punt to give the ball back to Nebraska. Two three-and-outs by Nebraska and one by Colorado ended the first quarter 0-0, contrary to how many people thought the first quarter would play out against a high-powered Colorado offense.
The Huskers would have forced another three-and-out, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the sideline after an incomplete pass on third down kept the Buffaloes’ drive alive. While the Blackshirt defense still forced Colorado to punt, the penalty gave Nebraska worse field position with the ball downed at the nine-yard line, which proved costly.
The first play of the drive was a 26-yard run by sophomore running back Gabe Ervin Jr. followed by an 18-yard completion to Kemp IV. Two plays later, Ervin Jr. had another strong run for 13 yards, followed by a six-yard run by junior running back Rahmir Johnson, putting the ball at the 24-yard line.
The Huskers had a scare on third-and-five, when a snapped ball hit freshman tight end Luke Lindenmeyer who was in motion. Luckily for Nebraska, Lindenmeyer was able to fall on and recover the ball for the Huskers. This set up a 45-yard field goal for freshman kicker Tristan Alvano. In just his second field goal attempt of his collegiate career, he hit the right post in a critical moment. The miss kept the scoreboard empty at zero.
Even after the disappointing drive, the Huskers’ defense came up big with another three-and-out. This was the story of the first half, as the Blackshirts gave Colorado, who scored 45 points against TCU, problems. However, on the first play after the punt, Sims fumbled another snap, giving the Buffaloes the ball on Nebraska’s 19-yard line. Having to go back out on short notice, the Husker defense forced another three-and-out, resulting in a Colorado field goal to break the tie.
On the very next drive, Sims had another miscue, throwing an interception at Nebraska’s 30-yard line, giving Colorado a short field once again. This time, it was too much for the Husker defense to handle, as junior Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders threw a touchdown on the very next play with 2:35 left in the half.
Despite the three turnovers by Sims in the first half, Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule decided to keep him in the game.
“There was never a conversation of putting Heinrich [Haarberg] in,” Rhule said postgame. “I really have to do a deeper dive to look into sort of everything that happened. But Jeff would be the first to say that we can’t have that many turnovers.”
After a quick drive where Nebraska had to punt, the Buffaloes marched down the field and kicked a field goal with one second left to give themselves a 13-0 lead going into the locker room. This marked Colorado’s first halftime lead over Nebraska since 2004.
Nebraska, after failing to score in the first half, scored on its first possession of the second half on a great play call. After only running the ball six times in the first half with minimal success, Sims broke off his first run of the second for a 57-yard house call to shorten the deficit to 13-7.
This was a wake-up call for Colorado. It answered back on the very next drive, marching down the field 75 yards on 10 plays for another touchdown. Sanders hit senior wide receiver Xavier Weaver to extend the Buffaloes’ lead back to 13 with a score of 20-7.
This marked the start of 23 straight points for Colorado, as they blew open the game for the rest of the afternoon. While Nebraska did score another touchdown in the closing seconds, it didn’t affect the outcome, as Colorado won 36-14.
Sims was injured with 9:21 left in the game and didn’t return for the rest of the contest. Rhule said after the game that it could be a high-ankle sprain, but the team will know more later.
The Huskers fell to 0-2 with the loss. Their next chance to grab their first victory under Rhule will be against Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium on September 16th.
“Everyone is going to be, as they should, upset and panicked,” Rhule said postgame. “But we’re better than what we’re showing.”
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