Another road trip, another old Big Eight foe vanquished. Nebraska added one final victory to cap their series history with the Oklahoma State Cowboys at 37-5-1 (wins-losses-ties). But this was a weird one.
The Huskers won it in a way that was completely different from anything we've seen in the Pelini era: in a shootout. So it's great that the Husker offense stepped it up after the Texas letdown, but whither the defense? More on that later.
Also something different—Nebraska beat a top-20 foe on the road for the first time in 56 years. Ok, really since 1997. But it feels like a much longer time. And they hadn't won in Stillwater since 1995.
So, lot's of things to celebrate. So why do I feel nervous? Well, on to the SWOT.
Freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez had his fourth 100-yard rushing game. But it was his 23 for 35 passing performance for 323 yards and five touchdowns that carried Nebraska to victory. We knew the kid could run but—wow.
Now, let's remember that Oklahoma State has one of the worst pass defenses in the NCAA, but it's nice to know Martinez has the goods to exploit such a weakness. He was crisp and accurate in long and short throws and also kept the chains moving with his scrambles. All of these skills will be necessary against Missouri.
I've spent most of this year calling out senior wide receiver and return man Niles Paul for inconsistent—sometimes downright lousy—play. After stinking it up in the Texas game Paul endured taunting from Husker fans in the parking lot after the game. And, from spineless "fans" via Facebook. Effin' Facebook.
Well, mad props to Paul for his performance against Oklahoma State. He added nine catches for 131 yards to his 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown after the Cowboys pulled within one point with a field goal. He also made an outstanding third-down catch that was thrown behind him to sustain a drive.
Henery the Great
How have I gone this deep into the year without writing a word about Nebraska's All-World special team menace Alex Henery?! This kid is simply outstanding with his 27-yard fake punt run to sustain a drive and his three field goals. He also averaged over 50 yards on three punts and put two inside the 20-yard line. Henery upgraded his game from excellent to stellar against the Cowboys.
Run, Kendall, Run!
Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State's senior running back, had a career day against the Huskers. At 201 yards, Hunter was the first running back to go for over 200 yards against the Blackshirts since 2007. Nebraska's run defense is starting to become a liability and the undersized linebackers are missing more tackles (Lavonte David, aside). Overall, the defense started looking tired as the game wore on. Thankfully, Nebraska won't face an offense for the rest of the season as prolific as the Cowboys.
That Championship Season
Win out, and Nebraska waltzes in to their last Big 12 championship game against—most likely—a less than dominant Sooners team. After Missouri, there really isn't much of a threat for the Huskers. Kansas? Forgettaboutit. Texas A&M? Overrated in the preseason. Colorado? They're already packing for the Pac-12. Iowa State? Who've they beat?
Oh, wait. Iowa State. Yeah, the team that came into Lincoln last year and beat the Huskers. The team that went on the road and beat Texas—something Nebraska has done once in their last 10 tries. Still, revenge will be on Nebraska's mind and, thankfully, the game will be in Ames and we all know of the Huskers home-game woes.
Tigers by the Tail?
There's no letup for Nebraska now. Missouri simply overpowered the former BCS No. 1 team in Oklahoma and they're bringing a solid game on both sides of the ball. This will be a letdown test: Who will collapse after their respective big victories? Nebraska, at home, has not been all that dominant and Missouri throttled NU two years ago in Lincoln 52-17.
Will Missouri's vaunted defense stifle the freshman quarterback Martinez à la Texas? Will the Blackshirts dig down deep and bully Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert like they did in Columbia last year?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and add a prediction to the weekly SWOT. After a game of firsts for Nebraska—first time beating a ranked opponent on the road since 1997, first time winning in Stillwater since 1995, first time a Nebraska quarterback ran for over 100 yards and threw for over 300 yards in a game—it seems appropriate to make a prediction for the first time.
Nebraska 34, Missouri 28
And let the Big Red Train roll back into the Top 10 and the Big 12 Championship.
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