Clayton Thorson sneaked into the end zone on fourth-and-1, and Northwestern's defense came up with a big sack and pass breakup in overtime for a 31-24 win over Nebraska on Saturday.
The Wildcats (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) became the first Football Bowl Subdivision program in history to win three consecutive overtime games. They beat Iowa 17-10 two weeks ago and Michigan State 39-31 in triple overtime last week. They also clinched bowl eligibility for a third straight year.
"I think our guys have some confidence in close games," coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "I could see the look in their eye in overtime — we're going to win the game."
Northwestern scored the tying touchdown with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter, and after Thorson's pass to the end zone was broken up on the final play of regulation, the Wildcats got the ball first in overtime.
The Cornhuskers (4-5, 3-3) kept Thorson out of the end zone on third-and-goal from the 1. Northwestern chose to go for the touchdown rather than kick a field goal, and Thorson got into the end zone on the next play with a push from Trey Pugh.
On Nebraska's possession, freshman defensive tackle Samdup Miller sacked Tanner Lee on second down for a 10-yard loss. After Lee hit Tyler Hoppes for 8 yards to set up a fourth-and-12, Kyle Queiro broke up a pass intended for JD Spielman.
"We're obviously disappointed in our finish," Nebraska coach Mike Riley said. "It felt like there had been some good football and then it felt deflated right through and into the overtime. The defense did their best after giving up some yardage early in the overtime to keep them out. It went to fourth down and we didn't quite get it done."
Justin Jackson ran 31 times for 154 yards and a touchdown, and Thorson threw for 243 yards for the Wildcats, with Macan Wilson catching five balls for 107 yards. Thorson was just 19 of 35, including 8 of 18 in the second half, and was intercepted twice.
The Wildcats have won four straight after an 0-2 start in Big Ten play, and they've won three of four meetings in Lincoln since the Huskers joined the Big Ten.
Rutgers 31, Maryland 24: Gus Edwards ran for 109 yards and caught a go-ahead 23-yard touchdown pass with 7:30 remaining to rally the Scarlet Knights (4-5, 3-3) to a victory over the Terrapins (4-5, 2-4). Max Bortenschlager, Maryland's third different starting quarterback this season, was injured in the second half, and Ryan Brand finished the game.
Purdue 29, Illinois 10: The host Boilermakers (4-5, 2-3) ended a three-game losing streak, but junior quarterback David Blough suffered a severe and likely season-ending leg injury with 12:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Illini (2-7, 0-6) lost its seventh consecutive game and its sixth in a row in the Big Ten.