Nebraska 51 ... Oklahoma St 41
It's amazing how much better passing game works when the receivers actually hang on to the ball.
Taylor Martinez was benched last week against Texas when nothing was working, and while the running game was stuffed, it was the passing attack and its inability to click that cost the Huskers a win.
No such problem against Oklahoma State
Martinez will never be Peyton Manning, but he had the time to operate and his targets made plays with Niles Paul overcoming a disastrous day to make nine grabs for 131 yards, and Brandon Kinnie catching three passes, all for touchdowns.
The Nebraska defense that's supposed to be a brick wall was torn to shreds by the terrific Oklahoma State offense, and there might be a second meeting between the two in the Big 12 title game, but no one's stopping the Huskers if the passing game works.
The defense will be fine. Oklahoma State is putting up huge numbers against everyone, and Bo Pelini and his staff are going to learn from this game and adjust in a hurry, but the key is how the passing game worked enough to make future teams have to worry about it. Take time away from game-planning for Martinez, Roy Helu, and the Husker running game, and Nebraska has what it wants.
Fine, so Oklahoma State's pass defense might be 114th in the nation, but that's mostly because every team has to bomb away to keep up. Nebraska doesn't have to throw to win, but it has to complete the throws that are there. If Martinez can do that on a regular basis, and the receivers can hold on to the ball, then the Huskers can beat anyone in the country.
For the Cowboys, this was also a win in a way. Nebraska hadn't allowed more than 21 points to anyone this year, and ranked No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency defense making Washington's Jake Locker and Kansas State's Carson Coffman, Idaho's Nathan Enderle, and Garrett Gilbert from Texas all look silly. Brandon Weeden threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, and while he struggled at times, the offense moved the ball. Kendall Hunter was able to grind out 201 rushing yards to add balance, and now OSU knows that its attack can play with anyone.
Good luck Kansas State, Baylor, Texas, and Kansas keeping up with the Cowboy attack, and good luck to the rest of the Big 12 North now that Martinez can throw.
One of the most underrated characteristics of a successful quarterback is a short memory. Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez put his on display in Stillwater … along with his crazy legs and improving arm.
Obviously, this was a crucial bounce back game for the Huskers, after last week's loss to Texas, but it was especially important for Martinez. The redshirt freshman got knocked down a few pegs last Saturday, losing for the first time and getting benched in favor of Zac Lee. It was the kind of turn-of-event that could mess with the head of a young quarterback and stay with him for a few weeks. Not Martinez. He came back stronger than ever, going on the road against an unbeaten team and delivering his loudest statement of the year. While he still rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries, it was, for the first time, his passing that carried the Huskers to a 51-41 win over Oklahoma State. Out of nowhere, he went 23-of-35 for 323 yards and five touchdowns, showing good touch on his throws and having no picks. And just like that, the memory of last week has been replaced by a monster confidence-boost on the road.
Nebraska needs Martinez to be the player he was in the first five games in order to remain in the Big 12 title chase. If Saturday was any indication, the Huskers are going to be just fine when they have the ball in the second half of the year.
By Matt Zemek
The Big 12, apparently, a defense-optional league on most weekends, but in the wake of Nebraska's wild 51-41 triumph at Boone Pickens Stadium, one must continue to ask, "Just who are these Huskers?", and "Just what is the Big 12 made of in 2010?"
Is this the real Nebraska team that will show up next week against Missouri and throughout November? Is this the real Taylor Martinez, who simply endured a nightmare against Texas? Or, is this a Nebraska team that will emerge in fits and starts but go "Doctor Jekyll" on us as this season continues?
In order to answer those questions about Nebraska, one must establish Oklahoma State's identity as well, and that search isn't a very fruitful one right now. Are the Cowboys worthy of plaudits for blowing up a Texas Tech team that's been subpar for most of the season? Emphatic road wins are nice, but the quality of opponent needs to be factored into the equation to some degree and at some point. OSU still has to tackle Texas and Oklahoma (and Baylor), so it's hard to say with certainty that Nebraska scored a big scalp with this 10-point triumph over an opponent that began the day with a 6-0 mark.
Make no mistake: No matter how highly you evaluate Taylor Martinez, his bounce-back after the Texas debacle showed more than a little mental fortitude. The 323 passing yards and five touchdowns are certainly eye-catching, but what really stands out about Martinez's effort is that he completed roughly two-thirds of his passes without an interception. That's what will make Bo Pelini particularly happy, and that's what will serve Nebraska well in next week's Big 12 North game of the year against Mizzou.
Do we know what Nebraska or Oklahoma State are made of? Not yet. Check back in a few weeks. That said, Nebraska's uncertainties are quite preferable to the ones OSU is facing tonight.