10 things we learned from Nebraska's loss to Ohio State
Here are 10 of our biggest takeaways following Nebraska's 48-7 loss to Ohio State on Saturday night...
1. Nebraska didn’t belong on the same field as Ohio State tonight
One of the biggest points of optimism from Nebraska’s near upset in Columbus last season was that, for the first time in years, the Huskers believed they belonged on the same field as Ohio State.
After Saturday night, it was clear that this was about as lopsided of a matchup as could be imagined.
The Huskers made plenty of mistakes to put themselves behind the eight ball, but what the loss really came down to was OSU having embarrassingly more talent at every position on the roster.
Nebraska’s offensive line never stood a chance against Chase Young and Ohio State’s defensive front, and Adrian Martinez was played by the Buckeyes’ secondary to the tune of three interceptions and only eight completions for 47 yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Blackshirts were pushed around at the line of scrimmage and let Justin Fields and Co. do whatever they wanted on the ground and through the air.
Few expected the Huskers to pull off an upset over the fifth-ranked team in the country, but for it to be as humiliating as it was turned a “nothing to lose” mentality into a devastating setback.
2. The Huskers followed the recipe for disaster
There was one thing Nebraska simply had to do if it were to have any chance at all at giving Ohio State a run for its money – protect the football.
What happened? The Huskers gave the ball away on three of its first four possessions that directly led to 17 Buckeye points.
Martinez was as inaccurate as ever, as he ended up with more interceptions (3) than completions while going 2-of-8 passing for a measly 10 yards in the first half.
The recipe went well beyond turnovers, too. Nebraska also committed six penalties (Ohio State had two) and only converted 4-of-12 third downs (OSU was 10-for-13).
Martinez was sacked four times, and the Buckeyes scored on eight of their first nine drives of the night, with the one empty possession in that stretch coming when time ran out at the end of the first half.
3. Fields played a class above Martinez
Martinez and Fields were regarded among the best quarterbacks the Big Ten Conference had to offer entering the season.
Based on their first head-to-head matchup on Saturday night, there seems to be more separation between the two than anyone could have imagined.
Martinez had one of his worst games as a Husker, as he never looked comfortable in missing open receivers, throwing passes in coverage, and running for his life under heavy pressure.
His 56-yard scramble in the third quarter did serve as one of the few positives, but it came as far too little, too late.
Fields, on the other hand, was every bit as good as advertised. The former five-star recruit and Georgia transfer did as he pleased against NU’s defense, completing 15-of-21 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns while rushing 12 times for 72 yards and a score.
Fields was calm in the pocket and also extended plays with his legs that usually always resulted in positive gains.
One of the storylines this week had been how Ohio State hosted Martinez on a recruiting visit and nearly extended an offer. It sure looks like things ended up OK for the Buckeyes in the end.
4. NU’s receivers were nowhere to be found
Lost in Martinez's struggles was how Nebraska’s wide receivers and tight ends were on a milk carton for nearly the entire game.
It wasn’t until a seven-yard completion to JD Spielman in the final minutes of the third quarter that a Husker receiver finally caught a pass. Prior to that, running backs Maurice Washington and Dedrick Mills had Martinez’s only two completions.
In all, Nebraska’s wide receivers and tight ends combined for just five catches for 27 yards against Ohio State.
The lack of productivity of the passing game and NU’s receiving corps has been an issue all year, but the group was a total non-factor going up against the first elite secondary it had faced this season.
Ohio State’s cornerbacks bullied the Husker wideouts at the line, and that was more than enough to keep routes from ever developing when paired with the Buckeyes’ steady four-man pass rush.
5. Mills was one of the only bright spots
There wasn’t much of anything for Nebraska to feel good about in this loss, but if nothing else at least Mills had a decent night.
A player who had underwhelmed with his lack of big-play ability and fumbling issues through the first four games, Mills was significantly better in both of those areas against Ohio State.
The junior ended up with 11 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown, as he was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Huskers’ unexpected power running game wrinkle. Best of all, Mills didn’t fumble for just the second time in five games.
6. Ohio State does in fact have a punter
In case there was any confusion, we were able to confirm that Ohio State does, in fact, carry a punter on its travel roster when it comes to Lincoln.
With just under 14 minutes left in the game, Drue Chrisman took the field for the first time. That marked Ohio State’s first punt over its first 10 possessions of the game.
But it gets much worse. Chrisman’s punt was the first time the Buckeyes have had to punt at Memorial Stadium since 2011. The only other time OSU was in town in 2017, and it didn’t punt at all in that game.
As if all that weren’t enough, Chrisman, of course, booted his lone attempt 59 yards for a touchback.
7. Green makes his Husker debut
Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti hinted earlier this week that touted junior college transfer Keem Green was “really close” to seeing his first game action as a Husker vs. Ohio State.
That ended up proving true, though it was not at all the way Green or NU’s coaches probably had hoped.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound junior defensive lineman finally checked into the game with roughly two minutes left in the third quarter and saw a few more snaps of mop-up duty the rest of the way. Green ended the night with one assisted tackle.
It was a forgettable start to Green’s career as a Husker, and it also counted as one of his four allotted appearances before losing his redshirt eligibility.
It remains to be seen what the former South Carolina commit’s role on the defense will be going forward, but at least fans got their first look at one of the prized additions of the 2019 class.
8. Nebraska gets to do this for two more years
Saturday night marked the fourth of six straight matchups between Nebraska and Ohio State, meaning the Huskers will still have to take on the Buckeyes in 2020 and ’21.
A lot can obviously happen between now and then, but based on how the past six meetings have gone, Husker fans probably aren’t circling those games on their calendars.
Nebraska has played OSU six times since joining the Big Ten in 2011 and is 1-5 during that stretch, having been outscored by a total of 292-127.
The Huskers have to travel to Columbus next season, where they’re 0-5 all-time and have lost by an average score of 44.6-19.8.
The good news is after the sixth consecutive showdown in 2021, NU gets two years off from the Buckeyes before hosting them again in 2024.
9. Prochazka commit was the highlight of the night
The best thing to happen for Nebraska at Memorial Stadium on Saturday was the verbal commitment of 2021 Rivals100 offensive tackle Teddy Prochazka moments before kickoff.
Not only is the 6-foot-9, 282-pound four-star one of the top tackle prospects in the country, he also serves as another homegrown talent that NU was able to keep in the state.
Prochazka adds even more young talent to Nebraska’s rebuilding offensive line, a unit that just proved it needs as many reinforcements as it can get.
10. At least they announced the facilities in time
If nothing else, at least Nebraska’s athletic department had the foresight to announce its plans for a $155 million facilities project on Friday night.
The announcement added even more excitement to a hype-filled week leading up to Saturday, and it was probably the hottest the iron would get as far as capitalizing on any momentum this season.
Even better, athletic director Bill Moos said Nebraska had already raised “35-40 percent” of its ultimate fundraising goal.
Unveiling plans for a project of that magnitude couldn’t have landed on a higher note, and at least the program has an established vision for the future to help distract how bad things seem right now in the present.