After looking clunky and awkward for the entire first half, the Nebraska Cornhuskers found a way to punch in four unanswered touchdowns in the second half to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes 34-27 on Saturday night. On a rainy night at Memorial Stadium, the Huskers completed the biggest comeback in school history.
Needless to say, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini was much more cordial when answering questions after the game than he was going into halftime.
It was a tale of two halves for the Huskers, as they struggled mightily in the first and second quarters to get any sort of traction on both the offensive and defensive ends. Quarterback Taylor Martinez looked overly cautious and unsure of himself for the first quarter and change, not completing -- or throwing -- his first pass for over 15 yards until midway through the second quarter. Similarly, the defense looked lackadaisical and unable to find a way to slow down Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
As the second half was wrapping up and with Martinez seemingly finally coming out of his shell, the much-maligned Husker quarterback made an ill-advised throw and got picked off with less than 20 seconds remaining. Despite the limited amount of time remaining in the second quarter, Miller and the Buckeyes were able to capitalize in the form of a field goal – making the score 20-6 going into halftime, and stunning the Memorial Stadium crowd.
Heading into the third quarter, it legitimately looked as though Nebraska would come out of this game 0-2 in conference play and on the fast track to falling out of the top 25.
But then everything changed.
In what was no doubt the most monumental play of the game, Huskers preseason All-American Lavonte David ripped the ball out of Miller’s hands during a possession early in the third quarter, and pumped some life back into the home crowd. Martinez immediately made the most of the turnover with a quick touchdown run, which in turn, appeared to rejuvenate the squad on both ends.
As Nebraska was seemingly returning to their old, pre-Wisconsin form, Ohio State was similarly returning to their own old form. In an unfortunate incident that would ultimately cement their inevitable loss, Ohio State’s Miller injured himself going down towards the end of the third quarter, and was incapable of making a return.
Backup Joe Bauserman replaced Miller, but he ended up being entirely incapable of pushing back the tide against a suddenly active Nebraska defense. When it was all said and done, Bauserman went 1-of-10 for 13 yards and one interception. Prior to his injury, Miller, for his part, had racked up 94 yards passing on a 5-of-8 showing, and 90 yards rushing on 10 attempts.
On the other side of the field, Martinez had 190 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-22 passing, and 95 yards and one score on 16 rushing attempts. After putting up only 10 yards through halftime, Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead racked up 119 yards and a touchdown on 26 punishing carries.
Following a particularly grueling two-week stretch during which they lost to the Wisconsin Badgers and beat the Buckeyes, the Huskers get a week off. They return to the field on October 22 to square off against the awful Minnesota Gophers, who are 1-5 on the year and are coming off 45-17 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers.