OK, admit it. While you were happy to see the Huskers in the lead at halftime, you weren't feeling very comfortable with that lead. Truth be told, I myself was having flashbacks to November 2007 and the Woeshirts under Kevin Cosgrove. But as the Huskers left the field, ABC sideline reporter Jeanine Edwards talked to Bo Pelini, and he didn't sound mad. Didn't sound upset. Didn't even sound all that concerned. He merely pointed out that he felt guys were in position, and that they just needed to make plays. Deep down, I knew that Pelini realized that with this type of an explosive offense, it's a fine line between success and failure. It's kind of like NASCAR racing; Oklahoma State's offense puts the petal to the metal. In the first half, they were zipping around and through the Huskers.
In the second half, they started spinning out and hitting the wall. The Cowboys had five second-half drives, three of which were "three-and-outs." Pelini made the necessary adjustments, and the defense played at Blackshirt level in the second half. Add in Taylor Martinez's coming of age party on offense, and it was an impressive second half performance for the Huskers.
QB: Taylor Martinez bounced back from a rocky performance against Texas with his best performance yet. Oklahoma State dared Martinez to pass, and in the second half, he was in a groove. Nebraska's first freshman quarterback to throw for 300 yards, and Nebraska's first quarterback ever to run for 100 yards and throw for 300 in the same game. Martinez showed poise in the pocket and touch on some of his passes. That being said, I do have to mark him down for two improvisation plays early in each half. On Nebraska's first drive, Martinez flipped the ball away, apparently trying to avoid a sack. The ball floated and looked like an easy interception if the Cowboys had somebody in position. In the second half, he flipped the ball laterally towards Niles Paul, who wasn't expecting the ball. Paul caught the ball and gained eight yards, so it turned out well, in the end. But Taylor, please stop doing that. Grade: B+
RB: With the Cowboys lining up to shut down the run, there wasn't a lot of room to run and thus, not a lot of opportunities for the I-backs. But Roy Helu had some nice tough runs to gain positive yardage when yardage wasn't apparent. Grade: B-
WR: Last week's goats are this week's heroes. Niles Paul bailed out Martinez on that improv pitch early in the second half, then went on to be his go-to receiver. Brandon Kinnie caught his first touchdown passes of his career, and Mike McNeill had several nice catches as well. Grade: A
OL: This was one of those games where I wish I had the time to set up and DVR the game to get a better feel for the line play. Frankly, I didn't get a good view of it on television. I think the protection was good, and the lack of running room was more the result of the Oklahoma State scheme to load up eight men in the box and dare Martinez to throw. So I'm giving them a B, but I kind of feel like a coward here for doing it.
DL: I almost want to give these guys two sets of grades; a first quarter/second half grade, and a second quarter grade. In the second quarter, the Huskers couldn't generate any pass rush, and Brandon Weeden passed the ball at will. Outside of that, Weeden didn't look comfortable at all. Only Jared Crick actually got a sack, but Weeden hurried his throws and bailed out early for fear of more sacks. Grade: B-
LB: Will Compton got the start, and initially seemed to help defend against Kendall Hunter, but even that didn't seem to work after a while. Hunter frequently got to the third level of the defense for big gains. Nebraska's run defense has been suspect all season, and Hunter is one of the best backs Nebraska will see all year. Lavonte David had another productive day with eight tackles. Grade: B-
Secondary: Anthony West got the start this week instead of Rickey Thenarse, but didn't fare much better. P.J. Smith joined West in the bad tackling show. Prince Amukamara got toasted several times by Justin Blackmon in the first half, but settled down nicely in the second half. This one is definitely one they'd like to forget. Considering the talent level of the guys they were trying to defend, I'll grade them a D+.
Special Teams: This one deserves some special mention. What else can Alex Henery do out there? On the fake punt, he showed pretty good speed, and even some shiftiness as he rambled and cut back for a 27 yard gain. I'm not sure you want the 175 pound Henery running the ball too much though. Niles Paul reminded his fans why he's on kick return duty; did you see him pull away at the end of his 101 yard return? The only downside; a couple of long returns by Joseph Randle. Grade: A-
Overall: The team took it's best shot from an opponent, got knocked down in the second quarter, pulled themselves up and finished strong. Grade: B-
Elsewhere in College Football
Missouri: Last week, I suggested Missouri might not have played anybody decent so far this season. We can quibble about the relative strength of San Diego State and Texas A&M, but beating Oklahoma makes the whole point moot. Grade: A
Kansas: Woe be the Jayhawks. Grade: F
Big XII South: It's nearly the end of the month of October, and Baylor sits atop the Big XII South standings. Let me repeat that. Baylor leads the South. Again, Baylor sits atop the Big XII South. Stop and think about that for a minute. Grade: F
Iowa State: Another upset, another locker room celebration. Not quite like last year's, but pretty good. Grade: A
Oregon: Damn, the Ducks play and their uniforms are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Team: A+, Uniforms: 0. Phil Knight, you are embarrassing your team.