Behind by 10 points with less than eight minutes remaining in a an enemy stadium. The game’s going from bad to worse, mainly because you’re minus-2 in turnovers and plagued by damaging penalties.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
So you put the ball in the hands of Taylor Martinez and ask him to bring Nebraska from behind. Again. This time, against the best defense in the Big Ten.
Nebraska 28, Michigan State 24. There’s gotta be another way to win a conference road game, doesn’t there?
Martinez, who should copyright the phrase “erratic but explosive,” threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball only to have it recovered by a teammate. But his never-say-die attitude carried the Huskers from behind in a hard-hitting slugfest of a game that looked to be filled with bad blood on both sides of the ball.
Yet Nebraska found a way to win a second game without Rex Burkhead, and knocked the Spartans clean out of the Legends Division race. It was a colossal gut check for the Huskers (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Here are my top three keys to the game. You can tell us about yours by using the Talk Back feature.
1. The Cornhusker offensive line was up and down, but got the job done. Martinez was under pressure on a few of his throws, but when you gain 300 yards rushing against the rugged Spartan defense, you’ve done yourself proud.
2. If going minus-2 in turnovers and piling up 72 penalty yards wasn’t bad enough, Nebraska won on the scoreboard despite losing the kicking game. Brett Maher had his worst day of the season missing a 30-yard field goal attempt that looked like it was going to be the difference in the game, and shanking his first punt badly.
3. On a night when three Husker receivers dropped passes, Jamal Turner made the biggest catch of his life with six seconds left in the game. Turner dropped a sure TD pass against Minnesota last season at Minneapolis, but he’s been gaining confidence all season and made his first touchdown a memorable one.
Tad Stryker is the former sports editor of the North Platte Bulletin and provides analysis after each Husker football game for Bulletin readers. Stryker also writes for HuskerMax. (http://www.huskermax.com).