Nebraska vs. Michigan State: Rocky but Clutch Taylor Martinez Delivers Win

Marcelo VillaFeatured Columnist IIINovember 3, 2012

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 03:  Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers runs for a second quarter touchdown while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium Stadium on November 3, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Despite a rough day throwing the ball, Taylor Martinez came up big for No. 20 Nebraska with a late TD pass in the fourth quarter to seal the victory over Michigan State, 28-24.

Even though he had a hand in all four of Nebraska's scoring plays, Martinez did make his share of mistakes, throwing three interceptions on the day.

The junior quarterback completed just 16 of his 36 passing attempts, earning him the lowest completion percentage (44.4 percent) and quarterback rating (83.4) of his 2012 campaign. Costly turnovers by Martinez nearly saw the Spartans pull off the upset.

On the other hand, Martinez made up for his miscues in the passing game with a largely successful outing running the ball. The Nebraska QB rushed for a season-high 205 yards and two TDs en route to the Cornhuskers' third straight win since a loss to Ohio State.

Martinez had some huge runs on the day, including a 59-yard run to set up Nebraska's first TD of the game and a 71-yard run all the way to the end zone in the second quarter.

Martinez's 365-yard performance placed him in the record books as he became Nebraska's career leader in total offense, passing former Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.

The Cornhuskers were playing catch-up with the Spartans all game long. At one point during the fourth quarter, Nebraska found itself down 10 points—largely in part to Martinez's three picks. 

Eventually, Martinez and the Nebraska offense put together two clutch drives to hold off Michigan State. 

The game-winning throw to Jamal Turner in the corner of the end zone with six seconds left in the game was a thing of beauty, and for Martinez, it made the memory of those three interceptions fade away as he helped his team to the win.

Earlier, Martinez nearly gave the game away with a fumble in the fourth quarter, so to see him overcome his mistakes just goes to show you the determination of this talented player. Martinez took it upon himself to march his team down the field on those two drives and put the ball in the end zone.

With the win, Nebraska improved to 4-1 in the Big Ten Legends division, putting them in a good position to play for the Big Ten championship.

The Cornhuskers will finish their schedule with games against Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa. No doubt Martinez will need to limit the mistakes and continue powering his team on offense as the season winds down. Interceptions have been a problem for the Nebraska QB, but he's managed to use his legs to make up for those errors.