16 for '16: Huskers mount record comeback over Buckeyes
At one point, it looked like Nebraska’s first season in the Big Ten Conference was crumbling before its eyes when Ohio State came to Lincoln on Oct. 9, 2011.
As it turned out, the game ended up being marking the biggest come-from-behind victory in program history.
Trailing 27-6 early in the third quarter, the Huskers scored 28-unanswered points in a miraculous second-half comeback to pull out a desperately needed 34-27 win over the Buckeyes.
The 21-point rally marked the largest in Nebraska's school history, topping the the 17-point comeback against Texas A&M in 2002.
How it went down
A week earlier, Nebraska had just been blown out of the water in its first ever Big Ten conference game, getting manhandled 48-17 by Russell Wilson and Wisconsin.
So it was understandable that Husker fans were a bit discouraged as their team quickly fell into a 21-point hole in a game they entered as 11-point favorites.
The night started off exactly the way the Huskers' hoped it wouldn't when the Buckeyes marched 56 yards on 13 plays and ate up 7:44 on the opening possession, ending with a 41-yard field goal by Drew Basil to take the early lead.
Nebraska answered right back with a 50-yard field goal of its own by junior Brett Maher on its ensuing drive, but it would be all OSU for the rest of the first half.
The Buckeyes responded with a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Braxton Miller to tight end Jake Stoneburner and then a 63-yard rushing score by running back Carlos Hyde to put OSU up 17-3.
Maher added a second field goal with 2:44 left in the half to cut it to 17-6, but quarterback Taylor Martinez was picked off on NU’s ensuing possession to set up a 35-yard field goal by Basil that made it 20-6 heading into halftime.
The second half picked up right where the first left off, as Nebraska went three-and-out on its opening drive and Ohio State moved straight down the field and punched it into the end zone to push the lead up to 27-6.
Down 21 points, it looked like the nail had been firmly hammered in NU's coffin for the game. Then, something finally went right for the Huskers.
Linebacker Lavonte David made an incredible individual effort and literally stole the ball away from Miller at the OSU 23-yard line. Two plays later, Martinez broke an 18-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 27-13 with 7:23 left in the third quarter.
The Huskers then got another big defensive stop, and to top it off Miller was injured on the drive, leaving senior Joe Bauserman to play the rest of the game.
Martinez hit sophomore Quincy Enunwa over the middle for a 36-yard touchdown pass to make it a one-score game at 27-20 with 1:44 left in the third.
After forcing the Bauserman and the Buckeyes to punt two drives in a row, Martinez dumped the ball out to a wide open Rex Burkhead in the flat.
Burkhead made the one defender who could get him miss, and he sprinted 30 yards down the sideline for the game-tying touchdown with 7:35 remaining.
Needing to come up with another big stop, the Huskers got it from one of the most unlikely of players. Newly converted cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who moved from receiver just a few weeks earlier, hauled in an impressive interception on a deep pass down the sideline by Bauserman, giving NU the ball at its own 23.
Burkhead took over from there, reeling off a 22-yard run and then an 18-yard rushing score to give Nebraska its first lead of the game.
Another defensive stop gave the Huskers the ball back with less than five minutes to play, and Nebraska only needed to run out the clock to come away with its first ever Big Ten victory.
They said it
"That was something else. That was unbelievable. I've never been a part of a game to be down that much and come back and win in that fashion. That was an unbelievable win all around. If feels good."
--Rex Burkhead, Nebraska running back
"We had that ball-hawking mentality and that's something we really went over in practice: being aggressive. Coach Carl (Pelini) was preaching that the whole week, be more aggressive. He hasn't seen that swagger that we've had. So that's what we tried to do tonight. Have that swagger, attack the football and get after it."
--Lavonte David, Nebraska linebacker
"I felt it in their players. I saw it in their eyes. I saw they didn't want it anymore. They knew we were ready to play, and I think we just took it and ran with it. They just stopped fighting, I guess... Oh man, just knowing you're taking another man's will. Unbelievable."
--Jermarcus Hardrick, Nebraska offensive tackle