The first full week of the college football season began with a small slate on Thursday night, and with Utah dominating Florida, a rock fight between Nebraska and Minnesota took center stage. After Minnesota took an early 3-0 lead, the two teams traded punts and turnovers for the rest of the half, but the Huskers jumped out to a 7-3 lead early in the third quarter on a botched trick play that still yielded a wide open touchdown pass from Jeff Sims.
From there, again, the two teams traded punts and turnovers as neither team was willing to take control of the action. Nebraska had multiple chances to pull away, but could only tack on three points to make their lead a full seven. That is a problem because the Huskers entered the night 2-13 in their last 15 one score games — a large reason the Scott Frost era ended. When they fumbled the ball back to Minnesota at midfield in the late fourth quarter, you could sense a “not again” feel from Nebraska and, sure enough, those fears were realized in the most painful way possible.
After a near touchdown ended up being incomplete after the receiver was just a bit overextended to keep his foot down, Minnesota faced a 4th and 10 deep in Nebraska territory with under three minutes to play. Naturally, Athan Kaliakmanis found Daniel Jackson for an early contender for catch of the year, as he somehow was able to catch the ball, keep his front foot up in the air while dragging the toes on his back foot for an unbelievable touchdown.
It really is some of the best foot control you will see all season, as it’s college so you just need the one foot down and he manages to just barely get those puppies to the turf before his front foot hits — with a little help from the turf rubber flying to prove, without a doubt, it was dragging.
Still, Nebraska had a chance to drive for the game-winning score and avoid overtime, and Sims led them to midfield before disaster struck again and he threw his second interception of the night to Tyler Nubin (the first of which ended a red zone trip in the end zone).
From there, Minnesota would drive into field goal range, and then back out of field goal range on a sack followed by a false start, setting up 3rd and 13. With one timeout left, they opted to hand the ball off up the middle, catching Nebraska off guard and picking up 11 to send Dragan Kesich out for a 47-yard attempt to win the game. After a timeout to ice him, Kesich (who had narrowly missed from 54 earlier in the night) drilled the kick to send the home fans home happy and hand Nebraska yet another single digit loss.
It was perfect Big Ten West football, featuring a lot of excellent defensive plays, a handful of eye-popping offensive plays in between truly terrible decision-making, and a game-winning kick that was preceded by Gus Johnson reading off the kicker’s recruiting profile. A perfect way to start the season, and hopefully just the first of many incredibly dumb and entertaining games across college football.