First Big Ten win for Cornhuskers needed a historical comeback
Momentum. In college football it is a moving force. It shifts and sways ultimately pushing winners to victories and leaving the other teams in the dust. One play literally changed the momentum and started the biggest comeback in school history for the 14th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers saturday night.
Playing a suspension riddled, and unranked Ohio State bunch who looked to be running away, in the literal form piling up 204 yards and 17 points on it’s first three drives, against former player and alum Bo Pelini and the Huskers. Without some key players due to both suspension and injury, the Buckeyes found some early success running the ball after getting back senior left tackle Mike Adams from a five game suspension.
Midway through the third quarter, leading 27-6, freshman Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller faked a hand-off, put a nice move on Husker sophomore defensive end Josh Williams and picked up a first down. But, on the way to the turf Husker senior linebacker LaVonte David, who finished the game with13 tackles on the night, ripped the ball from Miller’s grip. Little did Husker fans know this momentum shifting play was the beginning of the biggest comeback Nebraska had ever seen. This coming in Nebraska’s first Big Ten home game and homecoming.
The possession following the strip saw sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez fake a beautiful zone read play, and run through a huge hole en route to an 18 yard touchdown run. On the next Buckeyes drive, things got worse for Miller. He rolled out on a designed run play and rolled his ankle as Husker junior linebacker Sean Fisher brought him down. Miller wouldn’t return after starting the game 5 of 8 passing with a touchdown pass to junior tight end Jake Stoneburner, and making many timely plays rushing for 91 yards on 10 carries. Backup senior quarterback Joe Bauesrman was 1 of 10 passing for the game stunting any Buckeye offensive attack they may have had for the game.
The ensuing drive for the Huskers, Martinez found sophomore wide receiver Qunicy Enunwa on a well run post route for a 36 yard touchdown. This play was run out of a diamond formation with three explosive running backs in shotgun with Martinez flanked by a wide receiver on each side of the ball. This formation was useful throughout the second half for the Big Red.
The Husker defense stepped up again and again throughout the second half keeping the momentum on the Husker sideline. Martinez found junior running back Rex Burkehead in the flat for a 30 yard catch and run to tie the score at 27 on the Huskers next scoring drive.
The defense stepped up again after the Husker offense tied the game. Sophomore wide receiver turned corner back Stanley Jean-Baptiste came up huge with his first career interception. With his natural speed and long arms Jean-Baptiste raced side to side with a Buckeye receiver and made a leaping grab.
With all momentum the Huskers rode Burkehead to the finish line ending the drive with a 17 yard touchdown run capping the scoring on the night 34-27. Burkehead finished the day with a career high 26 carries for 119yards and that game clinching touchdown run. He also led all Nebraska receivers with 5 receptions for 59 yards and the 30 yard catch and run that tied the game at 27.
Nebraska forced another three and out by the Buckeye offense and the Huskers ran off the rest of the clock with some huge runs by Burkehead again. The much ridiculed Martinez turned the boo birds to jumping faithful, engineering the greatest comeback in Husker history. He finished the day with 191 passing yards on 16 of 22 attempts and two touchdown tosses, and pitched in 102 yards on 17 rushing attempts and the 18 yard touchdown that sparked the offense during the third quarter.
Throughout the week the media got on Martinez a lot about his poor play the previous week against Wisconsin. Head coach Pelini defended his quarterback publicly and trusted in him after an early interception and losing 27-6 during the third period. Martinez didn’t disappoint.
Neither did the banged up and battered Husker defense, who was also taking some heat all week, holding the Buckeyes to 147 total yards after allowing some early success to the tune of 204 yards on Ohio State’s first three drives.
The Buckeyes got a huge game out of junior running back Carlos Hyde who had 104 yards on 13 carries and two big touchdown runs. With the running of Hyde and Miller mixed with some well-timed passes the Buckeyes looked solid offensively through two and half quarters but stumbled late.
The Huskers,5-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten, will have a bye week this week and play the struggling Minnesota Golden Gophers October 22 nd. Ohio State bumped down to 3-3 overall, and 0-2 in an early Big Ten season, with another marquee match up with the 16 th ranked Illinois Fighting Illini this saturday in Champagne at 3:30 eastern time.