Let's set a baseline for this game. This was Nebraska's worst game with Bo Pelini as head coach, and frankly, I think it was Nebraska's worst game in over ten years (Texas Tech's 70-10 trouncing). Worse than the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game?
Simply because at least in Indianapolis, we saw the offense make some plays. Taylor Martinez's mad scramble was legendary, as was Kenny Bell's block on that Jamal Turner reception.
There was no such play from Nebraska's offense. If it wasn't for the Blackshirts forcing three turnovers in the first quarter, I suspect that Wisconsin would have pitched a shutout today. The defense was bad for three quarters.
Nebraska's offense was bad for all four.
So here's the report card; I think we all know where this is heading.
QB: The running joke about Taylor Martinez's throwing was the "arm punt". None were as bad as that deep throw Tommy Armstrong unleashed at the start of the third quarter. Problem is that Armstrong was chucking the ball downfield indiscriminately at the end of the first half. Was that what Nebraska's offense was reduced to? Throw the ball deep and hope to draw a flag? This season, we've seen Armstrong improve with his decisiveness running the ball, but very little improvement with his passing. Does he need a full-time quarterback coach? That's something that should be considered, but the larger point is that he needs better coaching. Am I pointing the finger at Tim Beck and Joe Ganz? Yes. Grade: F
I-Back: Ameer Abdullah, even playing with a bad knee, is still the MVP of the offense, and it's not even close. That's a problem going into 2015. That being said, he was a major liability on pass protection because it was pretty obvious that he couldn't put enough pressure on his knee to to block effectively. What would this offense be without #8? We saw a brief glimpse of Terrell Newby and Imani Cross, who were ineffective, much like they were two weeks ago when Abdullah went down. Grade: D
Wide Receivers: If Brandon Reilly makes the catch on that crossing route on the opening drive, would that have made a difference in the game? Maybe that keeps the Badgers from stacking the box later in the game. Maybe that gives the offense some confidence. Many observers said that Wisconsin blanketed Nebraska's receivers, though Pelini said there were opportunities there that Nebraska failed to take advantage of. I do know that Nebraska didn't seem to try very hard to get the ball to the receivers, from what I could tell. Grade: D
Offensive Line: In the first quarter, we did see a little push, but that disappeared as the game spiraled out of control. Most of the rest of the game, it was Wisconsin imposing their will on Nebraska's offensive line. Grade: F
Defensive Line: Other than Abdullah, this was probably the least dim spot on the team. Until the game got ridiculous, Wisconsin wasn't getting much up the middle. All of the big runs were on the edge, running away from the line. Excluding the 42 yard first quarter run, Melvin Gordon's first seven rushes went for 11 yards total. So I'm not completely convinced that Bo Pelini's scheme was completely wrong, as much as they just couldn't execute it consistently. Which is too bad, because Joel Stave sure didn't like Randy Gregory coming his way. Grade: C-
Linebackers: The first quarter actually was pretty good. The rest of the game, not so much. In fact, it almost was like they were invisible as Gordon raced into the secondary. Grade: F
Secondary: ABC's Chris Spielman did a pretty decent job showing why Bo Pelini got so upset at Daniel Davie when he inadvertently took Nate Gerry out of the play on a long Gordon run. Gerry himself got himself torched more than once by Gordon as well. Did Pelini play too aggressive trying to stop Gordon? Grade: F
Special Teams: Sam Foltz had the longest run of the game on the fake punt. Is that sad or what? Grade: A
Overall: F First quarter gets an A-, second and third quarters get a zero, and the fourth quarter gets an F. This is a deep F as Nebraska flamed out on the national stage.
Elsewhere in College Football
TCU: F Surviving an upset bid from Kansas?
Northwestern: A- Nice work by the Wildcats for sending the Irish back to irrelevance.
LSU: 0 Getting shut out by Bert?