The Nebraska Cornhuskers got their introduction to Big Ten football in a 31-point shellacking on Saturday night, courtesy of the Wisconsin Badgers. The match-up was originally billed as the two conference powerhouses battling it out for conference supremacy – by the end of the game, though, it was nothing more than a 48-17 massacre.
Things started off well enough for the Huskers. Taylor Martinez came out gunning and with a seemingly perfect balance of passing and running. For all of the talk about how he didn’t adequately survey the field before taking off in the face of pressure, the second-year starter showed just how efficient he could be in spurts. Spurts, obviously, is the key word there.
Nebraska struck first, putting the first score of the game up on the board. Of course, the festivities were short lived as Russell Wilson and the Badgers -- as they would each time the Huskers scored -- quickly responded with a touchdown of their own.
The beginning of the second quarter went equally soundly for Martinez and Co., as they successfully drove the ball down field before Rex Burkhead ultimately punched it into the end zone. Once again, though, Wilson and the No. 7 ranked Badgers responded. Only this time, they didn’t stop with a response.
After stifling Martinez’s next possession, they forced him to throw an interception on what could only be described as a prayer intended for Jamal Turner. Wisconsin would capitalize on the pick and add another score to the board. And then another. When it was all said and done, the Badgers put together a 20-point second quarter that effectively demoralized the Huskers and took them out of contention for the rest of the outing.
In the third quarter, there was some chatter amongst the announcers about how perhaps Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini made the necessary adjustments, and the team would come out running -- as they should have in the second quarter -- to start the second half. They didn’t, of course, as Martinez proceeded to throw yet another pick on a pass that no doubt made Husker loyalists cringe.
Whereas Nebraska would remain scoreless in the third, Wisconsin found a way to add 14 points to their already hefty lead. In the fourth, the Huskers managed a field goal and the Badgers had yet another touchdown.
When it was all said and done, Martinez finished the day with no touchdowns through the air and three interceptions on 12-of-23 for 177 yards passing. He did have a rushing touchdown and 62 yards on the ground; however, he also had a fumble so his good and bad in that regard came out to a wash. Plus, when you compare his performance to Wilson’s two touchdowns and zero interceptions on a 14-of-20 for 255 yards showing – you see a pretty clear cut distinction between the two passers.
Burkhead led the Huskers on the ground with 96 yards and a score and Turner pitched in with 84 receiving yards on five catches. On the other side of the field, Montee Ball had four touchdowns and 150 yards on the ground for the Badgers.
All in all, it was an embarrassing game for Nebraska that more or less showed the world that they simply weren’t ready for Big Ten prime time. Everyone from the coaches to the players deserves blame for the failures exhibited on Saturday night and, without a doubt, there will be a lot of questions that’ll need to be answered over the course of the week.
Nebraska will host the Ohio State Buckeyes next Saturday, October 8 at 8:00 p.m.