Report Card: Oklahoma Sooners 23, Huskers 20

Nebraska broke out to a 17-0 lead against the Sooners, but Oklahoma made adjustments on both sides of the ball while the Huskers got stuck in neutral offensively much of the final 40 minutes of the game.  CN's Jon Johnston is irate about offensive coordinator Shawn Watson; I'm a little more reserved. I think Watson tried to mix things up as best he could, with one exception.  Whether it was his decision or Bo Pelini's decision, the decision to keep Taylor Martinez in the game at quarterback is one that Husker fans are going to second guess for a long, looooooong time.

QB: Taylor Martinez looked more physically ready to play than he had at any time for the last month. But the redshirt freshman wasn't mentally ready to take on the Sooners. In the first two months of the season, Martinez depended on his blazing speed to make plays, but that speed was neutralized by the best defense he faced this season. Against Oklahoma State, Martinez showed potential as a quarterback, but against the Sooners, he channeled his inner Mickey Joseph. He was skittish in the pocket, careless with the football, and frequently panicked. In the fourth quarter, Nebraska went Wildcat almost exclusively looking for a spark, raising the question as to why not give Zac Lee or Cody Green a shot. Martinez didn't bring his "A" game, let alone his "B" or even "C" game.  It was an "F" game.

RB: Roy Helu burst through the first quarter with an electrifying run to open the scoring, though as the game wore on, the running room became less and less. Meanwhile, Rex Burkhead tried to carry the team as the quarterback down the stretch.  Only downside on the performance was Helu's fumble, but I don't blame Helu as much for that; that was a helmet on the ball thing that probably could have happened to anybody.  Grade: A-

WR: Kyler Reed and Mike McNeill made several nice catches. But the problem last night wasn't the receivers, it was trying to get the ball to the receivers.  Grade: A-

OL: The line dominated the first quarter, driving the offense into the secondary.  Huge holes cleared the way for Roy Helu's long touchdown run.  But then the Sooners made an adjustment, and the Huskers never figured it out.  Suddenly instead of running backs breaking into the secondary, the backs were getting hit in their own backfield. That running room up the middle was gone.  So the line grades out really well for the first quarter, and really badly for the rest of the game.  Grade:  D+

DL: I didn't see the pressure I hoped to see from the defensive line most of the night.  Jared Crick, however, did make his presence known in that second half.  Grade: C+

LB: Lavonte David put up some gaudy tackle numbers, but frequently wasn't in position to tackle Demarco Murray or Moises Madu on those screen passes, leading to big gains.  Grade: B-

Secondary: Most of the night, the secondary held their own against the Sooners, but there were a few too many busts of coverage. Namely allowing the Sooners to pick up 23 yards on third and 24, and set up a 4th and 1 that the Sooners converted.  That drive ended in the eventual game-winning field goal; make that stop (or at least hold it under 20 yards) and the Sooners punt. Grade: B-

Coaching: I'm not quite as down on Watson as Jon with offensive play calling. Lots of Wildcat, almost to absurd excess in my opinion. Yes, it was the most effective thing we ran in the second half, but if Martinez wasn't cutting it at quarterback, put another in and then get a real receiver in the game most of the time.  I loved the fourth and 1 playcall to roll out Martinez and throw to Mike McNeill deep.  Grade: C-

Overall:  C-  In a game this important, Nebraska didn't play it's best and failed in their quest to exit this conference on top. So we'll have to deal with some snarkiness  from the teams in the South about why we're leaving.  That's fine...think whatever you want to think.  We'll check back in 2015 and see where the rest of the conference sits.

Elsewhere in College Football

Auburn:  A+  How about that for making a statement?

BCS Title Game:  A+  Fans should seriously think about taking January 11th off because a matchup between the Oregon and Auburn offenses could have as many as fifteen touchdowns between the two teams, and may take five hours to play.  It'll be back and forth, can't miss television.

Rest of the bowls:  F  Good Lord, but aside from the MAACO Vegas Bowl (Utah/Boise State), Sugar (Ohio State/Arkansas), and Cotton (LSU/Texas A&M), there are a bunch of bad matchups.

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