Very early Saturday morning, I posted the keys to a Husker victory over Oklahoma State. How did we do?
Pound the Rock!
We began the game destroying Oklahoma State, blowing huge holes in their line. It looked like a blow-out was on, as on the first drive Brandon Jackson rushes for 11, 8, 7, 16, 0, and then 24 yards. Jackson's first quarter resulted in eleven carries for 99 yards, a solid day for most backs. He scored again early in the second, then didn't see another carry until the second half.
In the second half, Nebraska had 17 rushes for 52 yards. Jackson accounted for 45 of those yards, 18 coming at the start of the third quarter, and it looks like we're back on track. Yet instead of sticking to a heavy run ratio, we start throwing the ball. Taylor was off, and when he was on, his receivers did him the favor of dropping the ball.
I fail to understand why we threw the ball so much when we had successfully run the ball in our two road Big 12 wins. Callahan had stated that this was key to our victories over Iowa State and Kansas State. Yet, at Stillwater, we end up with 40 passes and 39 rushes. Pretty balanced, although a fair number of the pass plays came after we got ourselves into a position where we had to throw the football. I expected a 65/35% run to pass ratio, and we weren't there.
You Can't Stop Him, You can only hope to contain him!
In the first quarter, Nebraska's defensive ends hounded the Oklahoma State offense. Then in the second quarter, Bobby Reid exploded for a 56 yard gain.Three plays later, Reid hit Toston for a 16 yard touchdown pass. On the next series, Oklahoma State gets the ball at the 50, and runs the ball in for an 18 yard touchdown. Momentum swings to Oklahoma State, including a 45 yard touchdown pass to Adarius Bowman right before the half. To being the fourth quarter, Cowboy receiver D'Juan Woods fakes Nebraska corner Andre Jones, and hauls in a 55 yard, setting up a 20 yard scoring run by Savage.
Bottom line - like I stated last week, Oklahoma State has a very good offense. They have plenty of weapons, all of which were on display Saturday. It's one thing to give up a big play here or there, but Oklahoma State had plenty of big plays to go around. After the first quarter, we couldn't stop Oklahoma State, nor could we contain them.
We know the Husker secondary is weak, but unfortunately in this game, Nebraska's front seven played poorly after the first quarter. Blackshirts were continually out of position, diving at a ball carrier's feet for a tackle. We can hope that this is a single game occurrence, otherwise we have no shot of winning the Big 12 North.
Really, It's About Special Teams
In a word - Ouch. You could say much worse, but against Oklahoma State, special teams were abysmal. Congond hadn't missed a PAT all year, against Oklahoma State he misses his first (the other failed because of a bad snap), then misses a field goal - also his first miss of the year (although only only three attempts).
Kick coverage cost us the game. After Maurice Purify scores with only about 50 seconds left in the first half, Cowboy Perrish Cox returns the ball to the Huskers 45, and from there Oklahoma State had one quick strike to end zone. Cover the kick there, Oklahoma State doesn't score, the Husker have momentum going into the half, and we most likely win this ball game.
This is the second week in a row that special teams play cost us a game, the exception being that we played terrible in many areas of the game against Oklahoma State.
The Battle for the Big 12 North
This week, Mizzou. Most likely the battle for the Big 12 North will be decided in this game. Can we lose this game and still win it? Technically yes, but by then we'll be on a three game losing streak and heading to Texas A&M.