Wake Forest-Nebraska: Huskers Lucky to Escape with a Win

Jared RebackAnalyst ISeptember 8, 2007

IconIn a game that both teams tried to lose, Nebraska escaped Winston-Salem with a 20-17 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon.

Marlon Lucky's third-quarter touchdown run proved to be the difference, as neither team scored in the fourth.

Wake had their opportunities to tie or take the lead late, but a crucial end zone interception cost the Deacons for a second consecutive week.

Nebraska nearly gave the game away on the preceding drive, as they turned the ball over deep in their own territory.  On their next series, Nebraska gave Wake Forest another chance to tie or take the lead after failing to convert a 4th-and-2.

I question Bill Callahan's decision to go for it at the Deacon 35 instead of pinning Wake deep with a punt, but it worked out for the Cornhuskers.  

In addition to the turnovers, both teams suffered several dropped passes and overthrown receivers. Wake WR Kevin Marion set the tone early by dropping what would have been a 65-yard touchdown. The drive ended with a punt.

Neither the Huskers nor the Deacons were able to maintain consistency on either side of the ball. Though Wake held the Nebraska offense in check early, a Nebraska touchdown shortly before halftime changed the course of the game.

When Wake's defense held Nebraska for the final quarter-and-change, the offense was unable to put up any points—often costing themselves with penalties and the aforementioned turnovers.  

Wake also fell victim to some curious officiating decisions. On the Deacons' final two offensive plays, Nebraska could have been called for illegal contact and pass interference, respectively.

The ESPN game announcers were in agreement with Deacon fans on the injustice of the no-calls.

That said, it would be foolish to blame the loss on the refs. Nebraska won this game because Wake Forest made one more big mistake than the Huskers.

Looking ahead, Nebraska got the 2-0 start they expected, but I saw little from the Huskers to make me believe they can win against  USC next week. Sam Keller was far too inconsistent, and Lucky was held under 100 yards.

USC will likely be able to handle Lucky, and I don't see Keller winning the game with his arm.

Wake, meanwhile, will be thrilled to face Army next week after starting against two quality opponents.

In the event that Riley Skinner isn't fully recovered from his separated shoulder, backup QB Brett Hodges will be able to get another game under his belt before the matchup with Maryland two weeks from now. Wake will also get to see if redshirt freshman Josh Adams can continue his strong running.

As far as bright spots for the Deacons on Saturday—Kenny Moore had another good game, following up his 15-catch performance against BC with a 100-yard rushing day against Nebraska.

Still, Wake Forest will look back on this loss as one they could have had, and Nebraska will feel pretty lucky about getting out of Winston-Salem unscathed.