Martinez, Huskers grind out 28-3 win over Buffalo
As the sun beat down and on-field temperatures reached above 100 degrees, Nebraska’s defense carried the load from start to finish and the offense got the big plays it needed in a 28-3 win over Buffalo on Saturday.
Quarterback Adrian Martinez had one of the best overall individual performances of his career, completing 13-of-19 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns while rushing nine times for a game-high 112 yards.
On the other side, the Blackshirt played up to their name by stopping Buffalo on 11-of-22 third downs, picking off a critical fourth-quarter interception, and forcing two turnovers on downs.
Most importantly, the three points were the fewest NU had allowed since a 24-3 win over Michigan State on Oct. 29, 2011.
After a bend-but-don’t break defensive stop to open the game, Nebraska missed out on an early lead when Connor Culp shanked a 32-yard field goal wide right with 3:38 left in the first quarter.
The Huskers had another missed scoring opportunity when a 26-yard touchdown pass to Samori Toure was negated by a questionable offensive pass interference penalty, leading to a punt.
Finally, with just over seven minutes left in the second quarter, NU got its first big play of the day when Martinez escaped a sack and scrambled 71 yards down to the Bulls 4-yard line. Gabe Ervin barreled his way into the end zone on the next play to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead.
A fourth-down stop gave the Huskers the ball back at midfield with four minutes left in the half, but a 44-yard juggling touchdown catch by Zavier Betts was taken off the board by a holding penalty, forcing Nebraska to punt.
But despite an 81-yard pooch punt by Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease, Martinez connected with Toure for a 68-yard scoring pass - with no flags - with just 34 seconds remaining.
Buffalo nearly cut into the lead at the end of the half, but Alex McNulty missed a 52-yard field goal as time expired to send NU into halftime up 14-0.
Nebraska out-gained Buffalo 259-137, with Martinez accounting for 226 of those yards.
The Huskers started the second half with a chance to add to that advantage, but Culp again went wide right on a 42-yard field goal try to leave NU empty-handed.
A 30-yard run by Kyle Marks got the Bulls deep into Nebraska territory on the ensuing drive, but a costly taunting penalty on Dylan McDuffie stalled the drive and led to a 45-yard field goal by McNulty with 9:17 left in the third.
With momentum starting to teeter toward Buffalo, the Blackshirts came up with arguably the play of the game when Luke Reimer hauled in a tipped pass for an interception and returned it 22 yards to the UB one.
Ervin punched it in on the next play, and the Huskers took a 21-3 lead with 14:47 remaining.
The Bulls tried to chip away again after driving down to the Nebraska 34, but the threat ended with a turnover on downs. Buffalo got another crack at it two series later when a punt hit off a Husker player, and UB recovered at the Nebraska 38.
That opportunity, too, came up empty, as Buffalo opted for a 50-yard field goal that sailed right.
Finally, Nebraska put the nail in the coffin on the very next play, as Martinez found Toure for a 68-yard touchdown strike to make it 28-3 with 5:53 to go.
Another missed field goal by McNulty, this one from 42 yards, a 49-yard pass from backup QB Logan Smothers to tight end Chris Hickman, and yet another missed field goal by Culp capped off a bizarre ending to the eventual 25-point victory.
The Huskers finished with 516 yards of total offense, marking their second straight game with 500-plus yards.
Next week, Nebraska will hit the road when it travels to take on No. 4 Oklahoma for a nationally-televised noon kickoff on FOX.