NCAAF: Nebraska hopes for new start against North Dakota


Nebraska will look to bounce back from a demoralizing season-opening loss to Northwestern when it hosts North Dakota on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

The Cornhuskers, who were hoping for a breakthrough season under fifth-year coach Scott Frost, fell apart in the second half against the Wildcats in a Big Ten game in Dublin, Ireland, and lost 31-28.

Northwestern scored two touchdowns in the final 24:37 to deal the Cornhuskers their seventh straight loss dating to last season.

The Cornhuskers are the first major-conference team in the AP Poll era, which goes back to 1936, to drop seven straight contests by single digits, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“We’ve just lost too many close games,” Frost said. “These guys need something to believe in. We need to believe in ourselves as a team. I think they do.”

Casey Thompson went 25-for-42 for 355 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, both of which occurred in the fourth quarter that derailed any hopes of a comeback. Anthony Grant had 19 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns and Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda had four catches for 120 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Cornhuskers allowed 528 yards of total offense, including 314 through the air, against a Northwestern team that Nebraska defeated 56-7 last year.

Nebraska hopes a turnaround from last year’s 3-9 season — its fourth straight losing season under Frost — will start with a win over North Dakota, a I-AA school that won two of its final three games last year to finish 5-6.

The Fighting Hawks return quarterback Tommy Schuster, who completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 2,493 yards with 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

He’s complemented by receivers Bo Belquist (535 yards, five TDs), tight end Adam Zavalney (303 yards, four TDs) and running back Isaiah Smith, who had 52 carries for 356 yards — an average of 6.8 yards per carry — to go with a pair of scores last season.

“We are excited about the progress we are making,” North Dakota coach Bubba Schweigert said. “Our season is full of huge possibilities. We are excited to play a Big Ten opponent because this is a tremendous opportunity for our team.”

–Field Level Media

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