Published Sunday, October 7, 2012 AT 12:25 AM / Updated at 12:25 AM
Nebraska-Ohio State: Tracking the offense, defense
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa takes a look at key players, plays and more on both sides of the ball.

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NU star: Rex Burkhead. He gave the Huskers a much-needed first-half spark, when they were backed into a corner. That 73-yard run was a momentum-swinger. He finished with 119 yards, but left the game with an injury to his left knee.

Highlight: Taylor Martinez waited as long as he could and he took a hard hit because of it. But his patience was rewarded. He found Kenny Bell in the middle of the field for a 74-yard passing play midway through the second quarter.

Busted plays: Nebraska’s offense committed seven penalties in the first half. The most maddening of the bunch, presumably, were the four false starts. Add in the delay of game infraction to the mess, too.

Our take: The ground game seemed to be reliable enough before halftime, but a couple of errant throws by Martinez were costly. And once the Buckeyes’ lead grew, Nebraska’s inability to attack through the air became evident. Little pocket protection. Poor timing. Miscommunication. Bad throws. To be effective, the Huskers can’t be in predictable scenarios. That happened too often Saturday.

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NU star: Eric Martin. His presence certainly was felt early, maneuvering into the Ohio State backfield and creating some havoc. The senior defensive end ended the game with nine total tackles and two sacks.

Highlight: There were several in the first quarter, though their significance quickly vanished after the Buckeyes found their groove. Ohio State didn’t have a first down in the first 15 minutes and gave up two sacks, managing just 17 total yards.

Busted play: Much of the credit for this game-changing moment in the second quarter goes to Braxton Miller, a superb athlete. But Nebraska’s defenders gave the elusive QB lots of help, bumping into one another and whiffing on tackle attempts. The result was a 72-yard scamper.

Our take: Nebraska had an edge to start this game. Seemed to be one step ahead, refusing to allow Ohio State to get comfortable. But Miller put the ball on the turf, and the Huskers didn’t recover it. Daimion Stafford made a diving interception attempt, but couldn’t haul it in. Those plays could have changed the course of the game. Instead, Miller got hot and the Huskers lost their confidence. They looked hesitant and uncomfortable from the second quarter on. Hence, the missed tackles and botched assignments.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: He welcomes feedback.