EUGENE, Ore. — Nebraska rallied from a 28-point deficit in the second half and had a chance to tie the game late, but Tanner Lee’s fourth interception of the game ruined the Huskers upset bid, and Nebraska fell at Oregon, 42-35.
Lee had and up-and-down day, finishing his first road game as a Husker 19 for 41 with 252 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Sophomore running back Tre Bryant led the Nebraska offense with 107 yards on the ground, but he left the game in the third quarter with an injury.
Nebraska was unable to slow Oregon down in the first half, but halftime adjustments gave the Huskers a chance at the end. Oregon rattled off 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 42-14 lead into halftime but didn’t score after the break.
The Huskers scored on their first two possessions in the second half with a pair of touchdown passes from Lee to wide receiver Stanley Morgan. The two touchdowns sprung Nebraska — and the horde of fans who traveled to Oregon for the game — back to life with the score at 42-28.
Nebraska’s defense slowed the Ducks down considerably in the second half, giving the Huskers five possessions to cut the lead to 14 points, but NU couldn’t quite put a drive together.
That was until Nebraska safety Antonio Reed forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter. The ball was recovered by Nebraska at the 22-yard line with a little less than five minutes remaining. Junior running back Mikale Wilbon punched the ball in four plays later, cutting the lead to 42-35.
Nebraska stopped Oregon on the ensuing possession, which gave Nebraska a shot to tie it with a little more than two minutes remaining. But Lee was picked off on his first throw of the drive, and Nebraska fell to 1-1 on the season.
The first half was a track meet where most of the action came.
Oregon marched down the field on the opening drive of the game and scored on a 32-yard pass play from quarterback Justin Herbert to Brenden Schooler in the back of the end zone. The Ducks needed just five plays and 1:42 to get on the board first.
Lee’s first pass of the game was intercepted by Oregon’s Tyree Robinson. Oregon turned that into six points five plays later. Herbert found wide receiver Charles Nelson from eight yards out, and Oregon went up 14-0 in less than four minutes of gameplay.
Nebraska then put together a 10-play, 95-yard drive to answer the Ducks. Lee found senior receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El from 23 yards out to close the gap to 14-7.
Oregon then immediately responded, putting together a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, which was capped off by senior running back Royce Freeman.
A quick four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive for Nebraska, capped off with a five-yard touchdown run by Bryant, made it 21-14.
That’s when Oregon went on its run.
Oregon stretched its lead out to 28-14 with 7:10 left in the second quarter with a one-yard run from Freeman. The Ducks then scored on a five-yard run from Kani Benoit to make it 35-14, and a second interception from Lee with 1:45 left in the second half led to a 17-yard pass from Herbert to receiver Dillon Mitchell, and Oregon went up 42-14. They took that lead into the half.
That lead proved to be just a bit too much for Nebraska to overcome.