Team Report: Nebraska

The Taylor Martinez roller coaster is on the incline.Nebraska's redshirt freshman quarterback, one week after being benched during a loss to Texas, responded with the most complete game of his young career in the Huskers' 51-41 victory at previously undefeated Oklahoma State.

   Complete, because Martinez won this game with his arm.

   Oh, his feet helped, too. He ran for 112 yards, but his five touchdown passes were the story of the day. Martinez was 23 of 35 passing for 323 yards. All of those numbers are career highs, albeit against the nation's No. 114-ranked passing defense.

   "I've been just waiting for him to break out and play a game like this, because it's been there," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said.

   "It's been there. And maybe we saw a little bit of it last week when we had some miscues, a drop here or there. It takes one of those catches and then, bam, a quarterback's in rhythm. And then he sees things, things start happening faster and quicker for him. That's what happened today."

   Martinez, the victim of dropped passes in a 20-13 loss to Texas, was replaced in the third quarter of that game. Like he did the previous time he was benched at home (against South Dakota State), Martinez came back with a jaw-dropping performance on the road.

   "I've seen him do it every day after day," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "I promise you he's no different now than he was going into the game. But I think this game hopefully will keep giving him more confidence."

   Martinez needs all the confidence he can get going into a showdown this week with undefeated Missouri in Lincoln. The winner will have the driver's seat to the Big 12 North championship. The teams have combined for the last four North titles. 


   --By winning at Oklahoma State, Nebraska won its first road game over a top 20 team since 1997, when the Huskers won at No. 2 Washington. It's also the Huskers' first victory anywhere over a top 19 team since 2001, when NU defeated No. 2 Oklahoma in Lincoln.

   --Junior Brandon Kinnie caught the first three touchdown passes of his career, beginning with a 45-yard reception on a slant pass less than 4 minutes into the game. He caught a 9-yard TD pass for a 31-27 halftime lead and capped the victory by catching a fade pass in the end zone from 8 yards for a 51-34 lead.

   --Niles Paul's 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter was the longest by a Nebraska player since Ron Clark in 1949. The school record is 105 yards in 1911, when college statistics included return yards from the end zone. For the record, Paul fielded his return at the goal line. He also caught a career-high nine passes for 131 yards.

   GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Taylor Martinez -- The freshman has shown instincts with his feet and, this time, showed them with his arm. He bounced out of pressure, made throws on the run and didn't give up on passing plays when it appeared he might be eager to take off and run. His 435 yards of total offense are third-most by a Husker in school history. He's the first Nebraska player to ever pass for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in the same game.

   KEEP AN EYE ON: KR Tim Marlowe -- Marlowe replaced Brandon Kinnie as the second kick returner alongside Niles Paul. Marlowe, who has more speed than Kinnie, fielded one pooch kick and returned it 21 yards, but more importantly had a key block that freed Paul on his 100-yard kickoff return.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a master of the art of escape. We had him numerous times and he escaped us numerous times, I think he's one of the best in the country." -- Oklahoma State defensive end Richetti Jones, on Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. 


   LOOKING GOOD: Nebraska won the special teams battle against Oklahoma State with the help of Niles Paul and Alex Henery. Before Paul returned a first-quarter kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, Henery ran 27 yards on a fake punt to convert a first down on Nebraska's opening touchdown drive. Henery rolled out on the punt look, with the option of punting or running. He ran. "No one really reacted to it," Henery said. "They just let me kind of go."

   Henery also made three field goals -- 52, 32 and 45 yards -- which give him the school record for most made in a career (59). Henery has made 17 consecutive field goals.

   --Offensively, Nebraska showed it can be two-dimensional. Seven players caught passes. That included senior Mike McNeill, whose five receptions nearly doubled his season output.

   STILL NEEDS WORK: Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini wasn't in an apologetic mood after his Blackshirt defense surrendered 495 yards -- the most the Huskers have allowed since 508 by Oklahoma two seasons ago. "Hey, sometimes you have to hang on to your butt and find a way to win, and that's what we did," Pelini said after his team faced the nation's top-ranked scoring offense. Oklahoma State bothered Nebraska with its hurry-up, no-huddle looks and quick substitutions. Kendall Hunter gashed the Huskers with 201 rushing yards, although NU adjusted at halftime and limited Hunter to 55 yards in the second half.

   Most troublesome for the Huskers was a second straight game of sloppy tackling. Linebackers coach Mike Ekeler said defenders were in the right place to make a play 90 percent of the time. "But then we'd miss plays at the point of attack," he said. "In the first half, we tackled awful."


   --LT Jeremiah Sirles was helped off the field in the second quarter and replaced by Jermarcus Hardrick. Sirles returned, but Hardrick saw most of the snaps for the remainder of the game.

   --DE Pierre Allen left the game early with a sprained knee and did not return. Bo Pelini said he didn't believe Allen's injury was serious. Jason Ankrah and Josh Williams helped replace Allen, a senior with 32 career starts.

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