5 Things We Learned from Nebraska's 34-27 Win over Ohio State
Nebraska's first Big Ten conference home game was truly remarkable, not simply because the Huskers set a school record—coming back from such a large deficit—or because of the improbability of it all, but because of the many storylines interwoven into the fabric of the game.
This titanic clash between two of the most storied programs in college football told us many things about both teams and demonstrated the grit and determination of the Huskers for everyone to see.
In a game with so much drama swirling around so many different players, here are five things that we learned from an amazing 34-27 Nebraska victory that is sure to become an instant classic.
For a report card, grading the Huskers efforts in the game, please follow this link:
Martinez Can Rise to the Occasion and Silence His Doubters
Coming into this game, a week removed from a demoralizing loss to Wisconsin, no single player on either team felt like he had more to prove than Taylor Martinez.
The young man had suffered so much criticism that it had spilled into his classrooms. Students not only harassed Martinez, but his girlfriend as well.
Stories of such incredibly rude behavior have flooded the Internet every day since that dark night in Madison, Wisc.
Imagine what Martinez must have felt as the boos cascaded down upon him after his lone interception against OSU.
However, his teammates rallied around him and even relayed post-game stories of the leadership and encouragement he displayed even when the Buckeyes had the Huskers on the ropes.
However, resiliency didn't just translate into words. His play on the field did most of the talking.
After the strip of Braxton Miller by Lavonte David, he put the first of Nebraska's four unanswered touchdowns on the board with an 18-yard run.
He then led the Huskers on their greatest comeback in school history with 293 total yards (191 through the air and 102 on the ground) and completed 73 percent of his passes against a very stout Ohio State defense.
Martinez could have given up and turned his back on those fans who forget that he is still a sophomore or that he didn't play quarterback full-time until his senior year of high school and is still developing.
Why not? They had given up on him.
Instead, he delivered a performance that will be spoken of for generations and added to the Huskers' lore.
And as he walked off the field victorious, he probably realized that the approval of his critics, while satisfying, was nothing compared to those who had never stopped believing in him.
Crick Hasn't Fully Recovered from His Injury Sustained Against Washington
This was supposed to be Jared Crick's year, the year in which he stepped out fully from the lingering shadow of Ndamukong Suh and cement his own legacy.
Instead, he has been largely ineffective due to the effects of a head injury sustained against Washington.
Rarely has his name been called in the past two games. Clearly, he hasn't been his usual dominating self.
Here's to hoping he returns to his awe-inspiring form, not so much for the team's sake but his own. It would be tragic to see yet another player's career diminished (or even ended) by the debilitating, long-term effects of a head injury.
Get better, big fella.
Burkhead and David Are the Most Ferocious Players in the Big Ten
We see it played out every weekend: Rex Burkhead and Lavonte David play with an intensity not seen in the average player.
When Burkhead isn't giving 110 percent for the offense, David is a one-man army on defense.
Burkhead might not be the biggest, strongest or fastest Nebraska player, but he has a heart twice the size of the average man and plays with the same determination on the last play of the game as he does on the first.
Likewise, David throws himself around the field without abandon, zeroing in on the ball carrier like a cruise missile and delivering punishment to anyone foolish enough to find himself in his crosshairs.
Search every Big Ten roster—you won't find two more determined players than Burkhead and David.
Expect to see them playing on Sundays.
Absence of Miller Will Cripple the Reeling Buckeyes
The Buckeyes might have weathered the Big Red storm if not for the loss of Braxton Miller.
No disrespect to Joe Bauserman, but for whatever reason, he cannot effectively move the OSU offense down the field. Perhaps he should have stuck with baseball.
He might be a better pure passer than Miller, but he can't stand up to even the slightest pressure.
Over the course of his 10 passing attempts, he completed as many passes to Buckeye receivers (one) as he did to Nebraska defenders (one).
Miller's mobility at least gives the Buckeyes a fighting chance.
Besides that, Miller is a freshman and should only improve. It's doubtful that Bauserman, a redshirt senior, will get any better.
If Miller's ankle injury is serious, it's going to make an already long Buckeyes' season even longer.
This Epic Win Will Give the Huskers' Recruiting Efforts a Shot in the Arm
Had Ohio State won, and won convincingly as it appeared it would, it could have been disastrous to Husker recruiting.
Nebraska had a bevy of recruits, some already verbally committed, visiting this homecoming weekend against such a prestigious opponent—the perfect setting for luring young players into the program.
The list of expected recruits, their hometown and their Scout.com star ranking:
DB Brandon Beaver, Compton, Calif. (4)
DB Jordan Diggs, Cape Coral, Fla. (4)
ATH/RB D.J. Foster, Scottsdale, Ariz. (4)
ATH/QB Devin Fuller, Old Tappan, N.J. (4)
DL Greg McMullen, Akron, Ohio (4)
LB Tyrone Neal, McKeesport, Penn. (3)
LB Michael Rose, Kansas City, Mo. (3)
OL Paul Thurston, Arvada, Colo. (4)
WR Jordan Westercamp, Lombard, Ill. (4)
While McMullen, Rose, Thurston and Westercamp have already committed, it would be hard to believe that such a thrilling win in front of a frenzied crowd wouldn't lure some of the undecided recruits and help strengthen the bond of those already decided.