In the final Big 12 battle between Oklahoma State and Nebraska, the bulb over Taylor Martinez’s head began to burn even brighter.
Following a heart-crushing loss to Texas in Lincoln, he had a choice. He could have walked into the home of the undefeated Oklahoma State Cowboys and crumbled under severe expectations. Or, instead, T-Magic could not only have revived his nickname, but also provide an aerial display that no Nebraska fan could ever have envisioned.
Martinez completed 23-of-35 passes for 323 yards (a career high) and five TDs with no INTs. If that display wasn’t impressive enough, he notched his fifth 100-yard game this season with 112 yards on 19 carries.
Martinez continued to etch his name into the Cornhuskers’ record books, becoming the first Nebraska player ever to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 in a game. His accomplishments in Stillwater certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the nation: He was named the Walter Camp Foundation’s FBS National Offensive Player of the Week.
To no surprise, Oklahoma State took cues from Texas on containing the wily Nebraska signal-caller. The Longhorns put two men on Martinez to force him to pass, and the Cowboys did the same.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma State, Nebraska’s receivers wanted to make up for last week and help their quarterback redeem himself after seeing the bench during the game against the Longhorns.
Strike after strike went to Niles Paul who hauled in nine of Martinez’s passes for 131 yards—one of Paul’s finest performances of the year. Brandon Kinnie, after losing some confidence due to his lack of touchdowns versus Nebraska’s opposition, now has three to his credit thanks to Taylor’s arm.
The game wasn’t just about seeing what Martinez could do against Oklahoma State’s secondary. Even as Nebraska’s least experienced quarterback, he made veteran decisions, taking what the defense gave him on the ground and not trying to force plays where there were none to be found.
After some initial heart-stopping moments, including a near-fumble that was somehow recovered by Niles Paul, when Martinez couldn’t see daylight he picked up what yardage he could and stepped out of bounds. The maturation of the Cornhuskers’ wunderkind is taking place right before the Nebraska fan base’s eyes.
It appears that Taylor is learning that he doesn’t have to hit a home run on every snap, and that is vital for any quarterback. Under the watchful eyes of offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, Martinez has now been able to implement success with his not only his feet, but his backs, receivers and tight ends as well.
Martinez faces yet another major test this week. The Cornhuskers look to topple a Top 10 Missouri Tigers squad in the final battle for The Missouri-Nebraska Bell. Nebraska has struggled at home for some reason under Pelini in recent years.
A little T-Magic may go a long way in rectifying the problem.
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