Nebraska fell just short of pulling off a dramatic upset over No. 10 Ohio State, as the Huskers lost 36-31 to the Buckeyes.
Nebraska led the game 21-16 at halftime, but two third-quarter touchdowns swung the game’s momentum in favor of the Buckeyes.
Nebraska’s coaching staff emphasized the need for a fast start all week, and the Husker offense delivered just that on Saturday. Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez carried the ball seven times for 46 yards on the game’s opening drive, and senior running back Devine Ozigbo ran in a touchdown from one yard out to give Nebraska an early 7-0 lead.
A botched kickoff attempt setup Ohio State at the Nebraska 31-yard line to begin its first possession, but a fourth-down stop from junior linebacker Mohamed Barry ended the Buckeye drive.
Nebraska escaped its first special teams error without giving up points, but that was not the case for its second error.
Following a Husker three-and-out, Ohio State blocked junior Isaac Armstrong’s punt, which resulted in a safety. The Buckeyes then drove 68 yards in less than two minutes, capped off by a 42-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon.
Another three-and-out gave the ball right back to the Buckeyes, and sophomore running back JK Dobbins ran the ball four times for 36 yards on the team’s next drive. His 10-yard rushing touchdown gave Ohio State a 16-7 lead.
Nebraska’s next drive started with promise, as the Huskers drove down to the Ohio State 10-yard line. However, a carless backwards pass from Martinez resulted in a fumble, which the Buckeyes recovered.
Nebraska forced Ohio State to punt against the Huskers for the first time since 2012 in the second quarter, but couldn't capitalize on the change of possession.
Sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins coughed up a fumble later in the quarter, which junior defensive tackle Carlos Davis recovered.
Martinez led a 10-play, 64-yard drive, and ran in a touchdown from two yards out to cut the deficit to two points. Senior linebacker Luke Gifford forced and recovered another fumble with just over four minutes left in the half, setting Nebraska up for a clock-running drive to end the second quarter.
Nebraska ran eight plays for a total of 47 yards to end the half, with all eight being rushing attempts. Martinez’s second two-yard rushing touchdown of the game gave Nebraska a 21-16 lead heading into halftime.
Nebraska scored more points in the first half than in its last eight quarters against Ohio State.
The Huskers had an early opportunity to seize control of the game out of the break, but failed to take the chance. Junior cornerback Lamar Jackson intercepted Haskins in the end zone, but Nebraska’s ensuing drive stalled when Martinez’s pass grazed off sophomore wideout JD Spielman’s outstretched hands.
Ohio State went on an eight-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by a three-yard rushing touchdown from Dobbins to put the Buckeyes up 23-21.
The missed opportunities continued for Nebraska. Ozigbo dropped a crucial third-down pass, and the Huskers fell just short of a first down deep in their own territory.
Ohio State scored again on a nine-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Parris Campbell, extending its lead to 30-21.
The fourth quarter featured a pair of punts from both teams before Nebraska drove all the way down the field for an 18-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to six points.
Ohio State answered with a 42-yard touchdown run from Dobbins, marking his third score of his 163-yard game.
Nebraska rushed down the field for a touchdown, going 75 yards in less than two minutes, as Spielman caught a 17-yard pass for the score. With two timeouts left, Nebraska elected to kick it deep, but the Buckeyes managed to run out the clock, sealing a close 36-31 victory over the Huskers.
The Huskers ended the game with 450 total yards of offense, with Martinez accounting for 338 of those yards and three of the team’s four scores.