Nebraska didn’t have to make their 34-27 win over Ohio State as dramatic as it was, but then it probably wouldn’t have been as cathartic a victory. At some point, the Huskers figured out they were supposed to be beating the Buckeyes, and then took over.
Or maybe it was when Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller got hurt and didn’t return, because from when Joe Bauserman came in to the end of the game, it was all Nebraska. Bauserman went just 1-10 for 13 yards and an interception. Miller, however, had been something of a revelation, playing his best college game thus far. He was 5-8 passing for 95 yards and a touchdown and also had rushed 10 times for 91 yards when he was injured.
Ohio State kept running the ball after Miller was hurt, but it wasn’t nearly as effective for obvious reasons. Ohio State actually averaged 5.9 yards per rush on the night, but when it came time for Bauserman to lead them back to victory, it wasn’t happening and everyone in the stadium knew it.
Worse, Ohio State ran a total of nine plays in the fourth quarter during Nebraska’s furious comeback from being down 27-6 in the third quarter. If they had achieved even a handful of first downs, this disaster could have been averted. And now Ohio State is 3-3 and every minute of it is hilarious.
But why was Nebraska down 27-6 in the first place? As good as Braxton Miller is, it’s not like OSU running the ball a ton had to be a surprise to Nebraska’s defense.
But the comeback definitely helped team morale. All of Nebraska’s players’ quotes after the game were about how good it felt to come back like that and how the team had been struggling but had always believed in itself. An example:
“Everyone wants to doubt him. Whatever,” coach Bo Pelini said of his sophomore quarterback. “You guys can choose to write whatever you want and attack him like the fans will, and now they’ll praise him.”
Or maybe they’ll just wonder why Nebraska is so incredibly unpredictable all season. This is easily the most up and down 5-1 team in 2011. Maybe Nebraska should pretend both halves of the game are actually the second half.
There was no earthly reason for Ohio State to come in and stick it to Nebraska for two and a third quarters like they did. Because the fact that Nebraska had to come back at all actually creates more questions about the players than the comeback itself answered. What made Taylor Martinez get it together and why didn’t he have it for the whole game? Why did Nebraska’s defense look so unprepared for Miller and the Ohio State running backs to, you know, run the ball? If Braxton Miller doesn’t get hurt, does Nebraska ever figure it out?
The short answer is, of course, maybe Nebraska is overrated again and we all expect more from them than they’re prepared to deliver. That and since they were down so early, they could keep running the ball and not put the game totally in Martinez’s hands.
I will say it’s nice to have another red and white team in the conference, since Wisconsin and Indiana weren’t enough.