The Nebraska Cornhuskers found a way to come up big on the smallest of stages.
In front of a micro crowd of about 33,000 people, Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead and the rest of the Huskers beat up on the Wyoming Cowboys 38-14 on Saturday night. The game marked Nebraska’s first road effort of the season, but the change of scenery didn’t appear to phase the Big Ten’s newest additions. Rather, the Huskers seemed to welcome it.
As they have all year long, the Nebraska played well on the offensive side, racking up 490 yards of total yardage on that end. Of that total, 333 yards came from the ground attack – only this time it wasn’t Martinez leading the charge.
Seemingly from that very first game against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs all the way though last week’s effort against the Washington Huskies, it was the Nebraska quarterback who was spearheading the team’s rushing effort. Even against the Huskies, when Burkhead finally led the team in yards on the ground, it wasn’t through a noticeable dominance of any sort.
This week, though, it was different. Burkhead controlled things from the getgo and, when it was all said and done, he finished with 170 yards and two scores for the day. More importantly, however, he racked up his yardage efficiently – getting his massive totals on only 15 carries. Martinez pitched in too, rushing for 44 yards and a score to go along with his 157 yards and one touchdown through the air.
On the other side, Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith passed for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort. All game long, both Wyoming’s rush and pass attack appeared stifled by Nebraska’s defense. Despite the fact that they came into this game averaging 36 points and over 490 yards per outing, the Huskers defense held them to 14 and 302, respectively.
It was a bittersweet game on the defensive side of the ball for Nebraska, who finally got preseason All American Alfonzo Dennard back, only to lose Jared Crick to injury after last week’s game against Washington. Dennard, for his part, had four solo tackles through about one half of play.
At this point, all attention now turns to next week’s highly anticipated showdown against the Wisconsin Badgers. Whereas the four games leading up to this battle could be classified “tune-ups” of some variety, this coming game is a main event. It can make or break the entire season for both teams and, likely, will determine the ultimate conference champion.
The Huskers and Badgers kick off next Saturday, October 1 at 8 p.m.