Huskers fall apart in 52-17 blowout loss at No. 5 Ohio St.
For 27 minutes, Nebraska gave No. 5 Ohio State all it could handle in its 2020 season opener in Columbus, Ohio.
Then things completely imploded on the Huskers.
After tying the game at 14-14 midway through the second quarter, the Buckeyes blew the doors open with 27 unanswered points and ran away to hand NU a 52-17 defeat on Saturday.
Heisman Trophy candidate Justin Fields lived up to all of the hype at quarterback for Ohio State, completing 20-of-21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 15 times for 54 yards and another score in the win.
Adrian Martinez was an efficient 12-of-15 passing for 105 yards and ran for 77 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. However, two costly turnovers and eight total penalties proved too much for NU to overcome.
The day couldn’t have started any better for Nebraska, as the Huskers took the game's opening drive 75 yards on just four plays to take a 7-0 lead out of the gates on a 10-yard touchdown run by Adrian Martinez.
The series's highlight came when backup quarterback Luke McCaffrey lined up at running back and took a counter 47 yards down the left sideline on just the third snap.
It didn’t take Ohio State long to answer on its first possession, though, as the Buckeyes converted a fourth-and-5 from the NU 30-yard line and then punched in a one-yard touchdown run by running back Master Teague to tie it up at 7-7.
After a quick three-and-out by Nebraska, Justin Fields threw a perfect 42-yard touchdown strike to Garrett Wilson to put OSU the lead with 4:02 left in the first quarter. Fields ended the first 15 minutes a perfect 6-of-6 passing for 117 yards and a score as well as seven carries for 38 yards.
Nebraska’s defense finally got its first stop in the second quarter, and the offense took full advantage by marching 78 yards on 11 plays and punching it into the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Dedrick Mills.
Ohio State needed another fourth-down conversion from its own 33 to keep its ensuing drive alive, but it soon found its way back into Husker territory. Facing a third-and-1 from the NU 13, linebacker JoJo Domann stuffed a run play, and then the Buckeyes were flagged for illegal motion.
As a result, OSU had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Blake Haubeil to take a 17-14 with 3:12 left in the half.
The Huskers then had a nightmare sequence of a delay of game penalty, a negative run by McCaffrey, and two straight sacks on Martinez that only took 35 seconds off the clock and gave Ohio State the ball with another chance to score before halftime.
During the punt return, a facemask penalty spotted the Buckeyes at the NU 46, and then a questionable pass interference flag on Cam Taylor-Britt moved the ball into the red zone. Teague eventually walked in from six yards out to push the lead to 24-14 going into the break.
Ohio State outgained Nebraska 277-181 in total yards, including only being flagged once for four yards compared to five for 50 yards on the Huskers. Fields was nearly perfect through the first two quarters, completing 12 of his first 13 attempts for 187 yards and a touchdown.
Martinez was 7-of-9 passing for 72 yards while adding 22 more yards and a score on the ground. McCaffrey had 69 of his game-high 87 rushing yards in the first half.
Ohio State’s momentum rolled right into the opening drive of the third quarter, as Fields picked Nebraska’s defense apart for an eight-play, 75-yard charge and made it 31-14 with a 17-yard touchdown scamper.
The game was essentially put to bed on the following series when Martinez fumbled, and Sevyn Banks scooped the ball up and returned it 55 yards for the score, pushing the score to 38-14 with 8:02 left in the third.
Nebraska finally got back on the board with a solid drive deep into Buckeye territory, but Martinez missed a wide-open Kade Warner in the end zone, and NU had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Connor Culp.
Ohio State padded its lead later in the fourth quarter with an impressive touchdown catch by Jaxon Smith-Njigba from five yards out to make it 45-17. Freshman quarterback Jack Miller put on the finishing touches with a two-yard touchdown run with 18 seconds left to give the game its final score.
Nebraska will return to action next week for its 2020 home opener against Wisconsin. Kickoff for that game is set for 2:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on FS1.