A season saving win for the Huskers tonight. I hope it isn’t overshadowed by the postgame press conference Bo Pelini just had. We’ll get to that in a minute, but…wow. And, special thanks to my wife who texted and tweeted updates for me while we were driving home at the start of the fourth quarter. Not only that, she let me watch the final few minutes of the game while she took our three boys (ages 4, 3 and 6 months) up to bed. My wife is amazing and a servant.
First Down: What just happened? – Is Nebraska that good/bad or is Ohio State that good/bad? Ohio State was destroying Nebraska on the line of scrimmage. The Buckeyes, ranked 108th in total offense, looked faster and stronger than the Huskers. I was tweeting irrationally, for most of the game, because I was mystified by the Huskers execution. Losing 27-6 at one point? It was ugly, and I was thinking about how ugly it was going to get. Lavonte David makes a huge defensive play, by stripping the ball from Buckeyes QB Braxton Miller, and the Huskers started their comeback. Then, the Huskers get a bit lucky when Miller gets hurt in the third quarter. I don’t think the Huskers win if he doesn’t get injured, but that’s part of the game. Injuries happen.Why Ohio State was calling so many pass plays with Miller’s backup, Joe Bauserman, I don’t understand either. I don’t care. Those things combined with Taylor Martinez’s drive and the consistency of Rex Burkhead led to the Huskers comeback. They are 5-1. At the start of the third quarter, no one was thinking that was going to happen. They aren’t a top fifteen team. Heck, you could make a case they don’t deserve to be rated. Nevertheless, they are 5-1.
Second Down: Taylor Martinez has another good game. – Other than two pass attempts, one into double coverage in the endzone and the interception, Taylor had a good game. What stuck with me is his drive in the second half. When the Huskers were down by three touchdowns, he was not quitting. He was fighting for extra yards, he was taking hits. He cared incredibly. He’s limited in what he can do, but what he can do he does well. The players rally around him. Now, does that limit what the Huskers can do overall? Does that potentially hinder the overall growth of this team not only this season, but the next two seasons as well? I don’t know. Is it fair to rate him against a down Ohio State team? He can’t control that. He can only control his own play, and it was a good performance tonight in tough conditions playing from behind. I don’t think most of the fanbase is against Taylor. I think that is hyped up a bit by his own coaching staff, and the extreme that flames online message boards and talk radio. Still, I’m surprised by how much he is coddled. This is his third year in the program, and after 18 starts he should be able to receive some criticism. (Seriously, the whole excuse of “he has only started x amount of games” is foolishness at this point.) If he handled it with a bit more grace I think everyone would be understanding. Heck, most are understanding now. He probably takes his cues from his head coach. Regardless, it was a great game by Taylor.
Third Down: Rex Burkhead is a man, and he’s not even 40. – You’re rushing and receiving leader for the Huskers? Rex. As the game progresses, he gets better. Whether it’s the Huskers offensive line wearing down the defense, better play calling, or a combination of a number of factors, Rex Burkhead would not be denied in the second half. He’s not one of the best Husker players of all time, but he’s easily one of the Husker fans’ favorites of all time.
Fourth Down: Someone want to tell Bo we won the game? – Unfortunately, there is a good chance the Huskers comeback could be overshadowed by Bo Pelini’s remarks in the postgame press conference. Get ready for two weeks of dissection from media and fans about what Bo thinks about them. Does Bo really think that many media and Husker fans are against him, Taylor Martinez and his team? I mean, they did go into Madison and lose by 31 points last week. That might have something to do with it, but even then most media and fans were understanding of Martinez’s plight. We all knew Wisconsin was probably going to win. It was how the team unravelled in that game. Bo is not above criticism, and the way the Huskers defense played through three quarters was not comforting. This isn’t the Ohio State of old, this is an Ohio State team that came into the game with the 108th ranked offense. Criticism should come when the team is stocked with your recruits, and you’ve said previously you can fix it. The local media is more than fair with Bo. If Bo wants to blame shift and lash out at the media and fans? I think that will hurt him, and I think most can see through that. (I do enjoy when coaches and players say they don’t care about the media and what they say, and it’s obvious the care way too much what the media do say.)
Looking Ahead: The Huskers have their bye week, and then play Minnesota. They should win, which takes them to 6-1. After that? Five remaining games and the Huskers need to go at least 3-2 to have a chance to play in the Big Ten Championship Game. Can they? Who knows. In the words of Bo Pelini, “What do YOU think?!?!”