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Saturday, November 5, 2011
Final: Northwestern 28, Nebraska 25

By Adam Rittenberg

Kain Colter and the Northwestern Wildcats have turned the Legends Division race upside down.

Led by a heroic performance from Colter in relief of the injured Dan Persa, Northwestern shocked No. 10 Nebraska 28-25, handing the Huskers their second Big Ten loss and first at Memorial Stadium. The losses by division leaders Nebraska and Michigan leave Michigan State in sole possession of the Legends lead.

Nebraska was unable to contain Northwestern's offense, which repeatedly attacked the Huskers in the middle of the field, exactly where Michigan State refused to strike. The Huskers really missed star defensive tackle Jared Crick, and they repeatedly left Northwestern receivers open in the deep middle.

Even without Persa, who missed the entire second half with a left shoulder injury, Northwestern moved the ball thanks to Colter, who racked up 115 pass yards, 58 rush yards and 57 receiving yards. Colter led the decisive drive in the fourth quarter, as Northwestern marched 66 yards in 13 plays, all runs, and ate up 7:21 of clock. A veteran Wildcats offensive line imposed its will against Nebraska, and Colter scored from 1 yard out with 1:34 left. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini didn't use any of his three timeouts on the march, a decision that undoubtedly will be scrutinized.

Nebraska fell despite a terrific performance from sophomore QB Taylor Martinez, who attacked Northwestern with his arm, not his legs. Martinez completed 29 of 38 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns, looking much more composed in the pocket.

But a defense that received its coveted Blackshirts on Monday didn't get it done. As a result, Nebraska finds itself in a very tough spot in the Legends Division. This looked like the easiest of the Huskers' final four games. They now must travel to Penn State and Michigan before finishing against Iowa.

Huge win for Northwestern, especially because it found a way to hold on in the second half after blowing so many big leads this season. A defense that hadn't stopped anyone held Rex Burkhead and the Nebraska rushing game in check.

The Wildcats continue their annual tradition of one shocking upset, and this is among the biggest wins in coach Pat Fitzgerald's career. Northwestern still needs two wins to become bowl eligible, but it returns home for its final three contests (Rice, Minnesota and Michigan State).