It's hard to believe that it's been almost two full seasons since Taylor Martinez became the first freshman in Nebraska history to start the first game of the season at quarterback. T-Magic burst onto the scene as Nebraska rose to No. 5 in the country, but soon experienced a massive fall from grace as the Cornhuskers stumbled badly.
Martinez's career has been a bumpy one. When he plays to his potential, it is amazing to watch. Unfortunately, Martinez is all too capable of not playing to his potential, as we have discovered the hard way.
Here's my list of Taylor Martinez's best and worst career performances. Hopefully there will be many more for the better.
Opponent: at Michigan
Date: November 19, 2011
Nebraska was beaten badly by Michigan as running back Rex Burkhead, worn down after carrying the load in recent weeks, had only 10 carries for 36 yards.
Taylor Martinez was 9-of-23 for 122 yards and one touchdown. While he didn't throw any interceptions, Martinez threw at least three passes that should have been picked off. Not to mention that most of his yards came on a 54-yard touchdown to a wide-open Brandon Kinnie.
Martinez also carried the ball 16 times for only 49 yards, in yet another game this season where the offensive play-calling did not fit his strengths.
It's worth noting that Nebraska's special teams blew this game, and never gave Martinez and the offense a chance to get into a rhythm.
Opponent: Western Kentucky
Date: September 4, 2010
T-Magic's coming-out party consisted of 127 rushing yards and three touchdowns on only seven carries, for an average of almost 20 yards per attempt. He completed 9-of-15 passes for an additional 136 yards.
I'm not advocating that Western Kentucky is a defensive juggernaut, but stats like that are impressive against anybody. Pair those numbers with the fact that he was a freshman playing in his first career game, and you have yourself a dang good performance.
Opponent: Washington (Holiday Bowl)
Date: November 20, 2010
As one of the many Husker fans who attended this game, I felt ripped off. Nebraska laid an egg against a much worse team, and it centered around Taylor Martinez.
Martinez was 7-of-9 passing for a touchdown and only one interception, but his poor decision-making was what most people took away from this game.
After rushing 14 times for a mere 23 yards, Martinez was benched in favor of backup Cody Green.
Nebraska failed to show up for this one, and their quarterback didn't do anything to help. The Huskers fell 19-7 after defeating Washington by five touchdowns earlier in the season.
Opponent: at Washington
Date: September 18, 2010
Nebraska delivered a rude awakening to Washington in their first road game of 2010, clobbering the Huskies 56-21 and totaling 533 yards of offense.
Martinez put on a show in Seattle, rushing for 137 yards and three more touchdowns. He also recorded his first career passing touchdown early in the game, a 24-yard strike to Mike McNeill.
This game was also impressive because it was Martinez's first game against a legit opponent, and he showed an incredible amount of poise in the destruction of Washington.
Opponent: Oklahoma (Big 12 Championship)
Date: December 4, 2010
While this one didn't have the same hype as the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups that the Husker-Sooner rivalry was famous for, the 2010 Big 12 Championship Game was still a big game to effectively end the series.
Nebraska jumped out to a 17-0 lead early in the second, but Oklahoma responded with a 23-3 run to win.
Martinez was 12-of-24 for only 143 yards, to go along with no touchdowns and a pick. Certainly not good, but it pales in comparison to his rushing statistics.
In this game, Taylor Martinez, one of the most dynamic weapons in the country, rushed 14 times for minus-32 yards. Not a typo. That's negative 32. A lot of that yardage came from sacks, which shows just how poor he was in the pocket. It was difficult to watch.
Opponent: at Oklahoma State
Date: October 23, 2010
Behold, the only game of the 2010 season in which Taylor Martinez threw multiple touchdowns. And he did it in a big way.
Not only did Martinez throw multiple touchdowns, he threw five. Count 'em—five. Additionally, he was 23-of-35 for 323 yards and zero interceptions. In Nebraska's 51-41 victory over the Pokes, Martinez out-passed Brandon Weeden in every major category.
T-Magic also carried the rock 19 times for 112 yards in possibly the most complete performance of his career.
Opponent: at Wisconsin
Date: October 1, 2011
Nebraska simply ran into the wrong team at the wrong time. Heisman finalist Montee Ball rushed for four touchdowns as Wisconsin pulled away in the second half.
Martinez suffered through possibly his worst career game as a passer, going 11-of-22 with three interceptions and no touchdowns. I have no idea why Nebraska put the ball in the air 22 times, but it's the main reason they ended up losing the game.
On the ground, Martinez rushed 20 times for 61 yards and a touchdown. Not awful, but certainly not impressive either. He failed to step up when his team needed him most, and made several costly errors that handed Wisconsin the game.
Opponent: Ohio State
Date: October 8, 2011
This game was pretty awesome. Nebraska trailed 27-6 before storming back to a 34-27 win in the biggest comeback in school history.
While Rex Burkhead played a huge role, Martinez was the centerpiece of the comeback. His 18-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the first time all game the Huskers got into the end zone, and it sparked the offense to three more. In addition to completing 73 percent of his passes, Martinez tossed two scores and ran for 102 yards.
It wasn't just the stats that Martinez put up, but his game management was incredible and he made key plays down the stretch.
Date: October 16, 2010
This one hurt.
Not only was Martinez awful, the entire Nebraska team played horribly in a revenge game against a team that, to be quite honest, stunk. (Texas went 5-7 and missed a bowl game.)
Nebraska had risen to No. 5 in the AP Poll and was considered a top contender for the national title. But a stagnant offense and average defense doomed the Huskers in a 20-13 loss.
Taylor Martinez, believe it or not, had generated a tremendous amount of Heisman hype coming into this game. However, that vanished when he accounted for 84 total yards, only 21 of them rushing.
Had Nebraska not lost this game, the Cornhuskers likely would have been ranked No. 1 at some point in the season, but things ultimately went downhill from here.
Opponent: at Kansas State
Date: October 7, 2010
This was the most incredible rushing performance by a quarterback I have ever witnessed. Nebraska dismantled Kansas State 48-13, and T-Magic stepped into the center stage of the college football world.
Martinez carried the ball 15 times for a mind-blowing 241 yards and touchdowns rushes of 14, 35, 80 and 41 yards. Kansas State defenders were completely overmatched and stood no chance of slowing down the Nebraska rushing attack, specifically Martinez.
Despite only throwing seven passes, Martinez completed five of them for 127 yards and connected with Kyler Reed on a 79-yard score.
It's unfortunate that Nebraska couldn't have played like this for the whole season, because we would have rolled to a national title.