Play of the game nominee - On Nebraska's second possession with just under nine minutes to go in the first quarter, Roy Helu Jr. went up the middle 66 yards off a simple handoff from Martinez. Helu went for about 20 yards, bounced off to his left and then it was off to the races as the senior back outran the Sooner defense to the end zone. The extra point was good, and the Huskers took the early lead, 7-0 with 8:39 to go in the first quarter.
The Huskers were able to stop the Sooners again, and following a solid return by sophomore receiver Tim Marlowe, which gave the Huskers first down in OU territory. A Rex Burkhead run was followed by Burkhead again, this time going out of the Wildcat formation. That put Nebraska at third and long. Martinez was unable to connect with Brandon Kinnie on a pass out to the right side. But with fourth down, looking at a 53-yard field goal, Husker hero Alex Henery came in and promptly knocked it down the middle, giving Nebraska a 10-0 lead with just about six minutes to go in the first quarter.
Oklahoma, mounting its best drive of the game, moved the ball all the way down to the Nebraska 25, and was looking at fourth and one yard to go. For the second time in the game OU Head Coach Bob Stoops went for it, trying to catch Nebraska off guard with a quick line up and snap, and freshman running back Roy Finch was stopped short, giving the Huskers the ball at their own 25 –yard line, maintaining that lead as they went into the second quarter.
In that quarter Oklahoma dodged two major bullets as Ryan Broyles, OU's main return man on punts, muffed two. But OU was able to recover both.
Nebraska 10 Oklahoma 0
Scores: Roy Helu Jr, 66 yard TD run – Alex Henery 53-yard FG
Play of the game nominee - With just over 13 minutes left to go in the second quarter, defensive tackle Terrence Moore deflected a Landry Jones pass, which was intercepted by sophomore safety Courtney Osborne. The Husker safety took the ball down to the Oklahoma 11-yard line. But Osborne was apparently stripped by Broyles, the ruling being that OU stripped the ball and took over possession. It didn't look like the play was going to be reviewed, which forced Nebraska's hand as Bo Pelini challenged the ruling. After the play was reviewed Osborne was ruled as having his knee on the ground before the ball came out. The Huskers took over at the OU 12-yard line.
Play-by-play announcer Brent Musbgerger voices the opinion that this is the first time he's heard Husker fans cheer a ref's call all season.
On the following drive, Nebraska got the ball down to the five-yard line, and then Rex Burkhead out of the Wildcat, took the snap, stumbled a bit, ran off to his left and then delivered a ball back across his body and into the end zone to sophomore tight end Kyler Reed. That was Reed's third TD reception of the year, and it was Burkhead's third touchdown pass on as many attempts. The extra point was good, and with more than 11 minutes to go in the first half, Nebraska took a 17-0 lead.
Oklahoma was finally able to answer the Huskers as they got the big play off the drive following Nebraska's latest TD, Jones hitting freshman wide receiver Kenny Stills, who beat junior safety Austin Cassidy for the 49-yard touchdown. The extra point was good, and with just over 11 minutes to go in the first half, Oklahoma narrows the lead to Nebraska 17 – Oklahoma 7.
Following a beautiful play action pass to senior tight end Michael McNeill on fourth down, Taylor Martinez had the Huskers on the 10 yard line and looking for more. But with the first two plays going for little or no gain, Martinez went out of the shotgun to try and get the Huskers another TD. He first went to his right looking for an open receiver, and then scrambled back to his left to avoid the pass rush. The freshman quarterback looked very good from a mobility standpoint, but after going back to his right, Martinez threw an ill-advised ball back across his body, into the end zone, where it was intercepted by OU linebacker Travis Lewis.
After the interception, OU seemed to have the momentum as they drove down the field, doing most of their damage in the short passing game. But Nebraska did stop them about the midpoint of the drive, forcing a fourth down. OU made it, the first out of three attempts with Jones doing a bootleg rollout off the left side and out of bounds to move the chains. The Husker defense stiffed up yet again, though, forcing another fourth down. But down on the Husker 10-yard line, Stoops didn't waste time as he sent in his field goal unit, which completed the drive with a score, narrowing the Husker lead to seven points. That gave them 10 points to Nebraska's 17 with 2:35 left to go in the half.
On second down with the Huskers looking at two minutes to go in the half, Helu runs off the left side and fumbles the ball. The Sooners took over at the 31-yard line, and on the very next play Jones hits freshman Kenny Stills on a post pattern which he took all the way down to the half-yard line. Jones kept the ball and dove into the end zone on the next play, and with the extra point after the Huskers had scored the first 17 points, the Sooners scored the next 17 with 1:37 left to go in the first half.
The scoring drive by the Sooners was a huge momentum shift, but the Huskers answered on the next drive, keyed by a Burkhead run off the left side for 25 yards. Five plays later Martinez hit Reed again, this one for 25 yards, down to the Oklahoma 24-yard line. Nebraska spiked the ball, giving Henery another shot, this one from 42-yards. He made it, of course, giving Nebraska the lead again as they went into halftime, 20-17.
Nebraska 20 – Oklahoma 17
Scores: Rex Burkhead complete to Kyler Reed for 5 yard TD – Landry Jones complete to Kenny Stills for 49-yard TD – Jimmy Stevens 26-yard FG – Landry Jones 1-yard rush for TD – Alex Henery 42-yard FG
The story of the first half is Nebraska's two turnovers that result in two touchdowns for the Sooners. On the negative side for Oklahoma, they had two fourth-down conversions in Husker territory that they didn't make. But they also had two muffed punt returns by Ryan Broyles, both of which they got back.
Nebraska had two turnovers in the first half, one a fumble and the other an interception. Oklahoma put three balls on the ground, but didn't lose any. Their lone turnover was the interception thrown by Jones.
Nebraska opens up the drive at their own 24-yard line. Martinez had one good play as he hit McNeill on a slant for 15 yards. But on third and long in that same drive, Martinez forced to scramble, went uyp the middle and fumbles, the Sooners recovering at the Nebraska 25-yard line. This is the third turnover by the Huskers in the game, the second by Martinez.
Following the turnover, Nebraska was able to stiffen up, forcing Oklahoma to try for the field goal from 24 yards out. But the field goal sailed a bit right, and Nebraska dodged a huge bullet and took over possession still with the 20-17 lead over the Sooners.
The Sooners got their second big play of the game with just around eight minutes to go in the third quarter as Jones hit Broyles deep down the left side for 47 yards giving the Sooners first and goal at the Nebraska 3-yard line. Senior safety Eric Hagg was on the coverage and the speedy Broyles just got behind him. But once again, the Husker defense stiffened up and forced the Sooners to try another field goal. This one was good, though, Stevens hitting it in from 20 yards out, the Sooners tying the game again at 20 points each with just over seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
On third and long for the Sooners, it looked like momentum was going the way of the Crimson and White. But Nebraska's defense continued to play well, and on this play the Husker secondary was a blanket, allowing defensive tackle Jared Crick to take down Jones in the backfield for a loss of eight yards, forcing the punt.
The Huskers were trying to capitalize going into the fourth quarter, but Martinez had just taken an eight-yard sack on first down, bringing up second and 18 as they went into the final quarter of the game.
What seemed to be obvious at this point was that Martinez is still far from a hundred percent as believed going into this game when it was confirmed that he would indeed start. The speedy freshman finished this quarter with -18 yards on the ground.
Nebraska 20 Oklahoma 20
Scores: Jimmy Stevens 20-yard FG
Oklahoma got a bad break to open up the fourth quarter as they received the punt, and it looked like they were going to have the ball at around their own 40-yard line. But a holding penalty on the return, which happened at the 11-yard line, took the ball five yards back from the spot of the foul, putting the Sooners all the way back to their own six-yard line. The Husker defense managed to hold them yet again, forcing the Sooners to punt the ball away.
It seemed that Nebraska had gotten things figured out as they had Burkhead back in the Wildcat for the series, and he ripped off two big runs, taking the ball down into Sooner territory. But on a bad snap from center Mike Caputo, Burkhead couldn't handle the ball, and turned the ball over to the Sooners, this being the fourth turnover by the team.
The Sooners took over possession, and it seemed like Nebraska was going to dodge yet another bullet as Crick got a huge sack on second down, forcing 3rd and 24. But OU stuck to their guns on fourth and short, going for it, Jones hitting Cameron Kenney for the first down. Kenney has been having a lot of success against Amukamara all game, and this was a huge first down. It kept the drive alive, so that Oklahoma could get at the very least, into field goal range, which they did. Nebraska, continuing to show how good they are on defense despite being put in all kinds of bad situations, held OU to another field goal attempt. This one went through, though, Oklahoma taking its first lead of the game, now on top of Nebraska 23-20 with 8:28 to go in the game. For the game up to this point, Kenney had six receptions for 65 yards, all against Nebraska's All-American CB.
Oklahoma 23 Nebraska 20
With fourth down and just around seven and a half minutes left to go in the game, perhaps the biggest play or biggest non-play of the game occurred. Nebraska had stalled on a drive, and was looking to punt the ball to the Sooners. Just as the ball snapped, the refs blew the play dead as they indicated Oklahoma called a timeout.
What they apparently saw was what Nebraska tried to do as they were executing a fake punt as the ball was snapped directly to tight end Ben Cotton, who was giving the ball to senior quarterback Zac Lee who had motioned from left to right. The moment Lee went into motion, that's when Stoops was seen yelling at the refs for the timeout. The Huskers would end up punting the ball.
With 3:36 to go in the game, Oklahoma starts with the ball at their own 10-yard line. Lavonte David stops the first play, a running play by Murray off the left side, for no again. Then Oklahoma goes off the left side with Murray for a gain of five yards. On third and five, Oklahoma trying to milk the clock, OU throws complete to Stills, but for a short gain, forcing another punt by the Sooners. Burkhead got the punt and returned it to the Husker 41-yard line, where Nebraska took over with under two minutes to play.
Despite the success Nebraska had with the run, with just over 1:40 to go in the game, Martinez was the man, out of the gun. On first down Martinez hit Joe Broekemeir on a slant for two yards. But then Martinez was sacked on a blitz, which put Nebraska at third and 16. Then, Martinez out of the gun again, hit Kinnie down the right side for 11 yards, bringing up fourth down and five…perhaps for the game. The call on the down was a pass to Kinnie off the left side, which Martinez sailed behind Kinnie, but the ball was also deflected. That sealed the game for the Sooners, giving them the three-point lead with just over a minute to go in the game.
The Sooners went into the victory formation, and killed the clock and came away with the victory.
Oklahoma 23 Nebraska 20
Scores: Jimmy Stevens 23-yard field goal
Final Score: Oklahoma 23 Nebraska 20
This was a turnover-laden affair that leaves you scratching your head. It was pretty obvious that Martinez was not healthy, thus not a hundred percent, thus not much of a threat to run which is -32 yards was a testament too. The freshman quarterback proved to be careless with the football, flustered when put under pressure and for every good pass he threw, he seemed to have another which was way off the mark.
You can't blame the defense. While Oklahoma managed a lot of yards, the "Blackshirts" stepped up over and over, and Jared Crick was reminding people of Ndamukong Suh a bit as he took over the interior of that line late in the game, his sack on Jones in the fourth quarter, seemingly a huge momentum turner. Nebraska held Oklahoma to just 73 yards in the fourth period. But their own offense was worse, notching just over 60 yards, and with no chance at a late field goal try for Alex Henery.
This game came down to turnovers, obviously. And it came down to a freshman quarterback who Bo insists was healthy, but that's not the same Martinez we saw against Washington, against Kansas State – pretty much the entire season up to the Missouri game when he was injured. Martinez proved to be a freshman, and when he ran out of options in the passing game, he panicked, made bad decisions, was careless with the football, etc. Helu's turnover obviously didn't help. It was one of the big difference makers in the game. But now the questions will arise and rightfully so, should Martinez have played in this game or been relied on as much as he was.
Hindsight is 20/20, and Bo said after the game that he knew on Monday Taylor was probably going to be the guy. Well, he was, but probably not how Pelini wanted.
This one will sting, because Nebraska once again was their own worst enemy, only this time they can't blame the refs. This is on them, their ball security which has been an issue all year and they can only hope to fix some of that before they head to a bowl which won't be a BCS affair.
Oklahoma did what it needed to do to win, but Nebraska did more to lose.
- Nebraska dropped to 2-4 all-time in Big 12 Championship Games, including 0-2 against Oklahoma and 0-2 in Cowboys Stadium. It was NU's third straight loss in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma increased its all-time edge in the series to 45-38-3, including 6-4 in the Big 12 era.
- Nebraska dropped to 10-3 with tonight's loss, preventing NU from its first 11-win regular season since 2001. Nebraska dropped to 2-2 against ranked teams this season and 1-1 against top-10 teams. Bo Pelini's record at Nebraska dropped to 30-11 and 1-2 vs. Oklahoma.
- Senior I-back Roy Helu Jr. had a 66-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of tonight's game. It was Helu's seventh TD run of at least 50 yards this season, with five of those covering at least 65 yards. Helu's run was a one-play scoring drive, NU's seventh one-play scoring drive of the season with five of those on Helu rushes. The 66-yard touchdown run was the longest in Big 12 Championship Game history, surpassing a 63-yard run by Darren Sproles in 2003.
- The 66-yard run also marked the third straight season Helu Jr. has had a run of 50+yards against the Sooners. In his career, Helu has 386 rushing yards on 47 carries against the Sooners, an average of 8.2 yards per carry.
- Helu Jr. finished the night with 91 yards on 11 carries for his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season. Helu Jr. also pushed his season rushing total to 1,211 yards. His 1,211 yardage total ranks 12th in Nebraska history and is third among Nebraska seniors.
- Senior place-kicker Alex Henery connected on a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter of tonight's game to give NU a 10-0 lead. Henery's 53-yard field goal is the longest in Big 12 Championship Game history, breaking his own 52-yarder against Texas in last year's game. Henery's kick was also the longest ever by a Nebraska player away from Lincoln, surpassing his own 52-yarder at Oklahoma State earlier this season. Henery improved to 18-of-19 on field goals this season and 68-of-76 in his career.
- Henery continued his amazing postseason success. He improved to 14-of-14 in the postseason on field goal attempts. He has made three field goals of 50 yards or more in the postseason and nine of 40 yards or more.
- Henery also became Nebraska's all-time leading scorer in tonight's game. His eight points tonight give him 396 career points, surpassing the previous record of 388 by Kris Brown from 1995 to 1998. He connected on two PATs tonight, extending his perfect PAT season to 53-of-53.
- Junior linebacker Lavonte David had 17 tackles in tonight's game, his eighth double-figure tackle game of the season. The 17 tackles tied the Big 12 Championship Game record set by Dat Nguyen in the 1998 title game. David pushed his season tackle total to 145 moving him into second place on the NU single-season chart. He is four tackles from Barrett Ruud's single-season mark of 149 tackles in 2003.
- Nebraska sophomore tight end Kyler Reed caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for his seventh touchdown catch of the season. Reed's seven touchdowns ties the NU season record for tight ends, tying four players, most recently Gerald Armstrong in 1992. Reed's seven TD catches are tied for the seventh-most in a season for all NU players.
- Senior receiver Mike McNeill caught a 36-yard pass on 4th and 1 in the second quarter. The reception pushed McNeill past 1,000 career receiving yards, making him the 19th Nebraska player to record 1,000 career receiving yards. McNeill now has 1,039 career receiving yards. McNeill finished the night with four catches for 63 yards, his best outing since a career-high five catches for 61 yards at Oklahoma State. It was just the second time this season McNeill has had more than two receptions.
- Sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead completed a 5-yard TD pass to Kyler Reed in the second quarter. Burkhead has thrown for touchdowns on all three of his career pass attempts--all in the past two weeks.
- Nebraska rushed for 145 yards in tonight's game, marking just the third time NU has not rushed for 200 yards. The Huskers are 10-0 when rushing for 200 yards and 0-3 when not reaching the 200-yard mark.
- Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick registered an eight-yard sack in the third quarter and shared a 14-yard sack in the fourth quarter, giving him 9.0 sacks this season and 18.5 in his career. Crick has 16 tackles for loss this season, bettering his 2009 total of 15.
- Sophomore safety Courtney Osborne registered his first career interception in the second quarter of tonight's game, setting up a short touchdown that gave Nebraska a 17-0 lead. Osborne became the eighth different defensive back with an interception in 2010.
- Nebraska led 20-17 at half of tonight's game and lost a halftime lead for only the second time under Pelini . NU entered the night 23-1 under Pelini when leading at halftime and the Huskers are now 23-2 when leading at the half.
- Sooner quarterback Landry Jones accounted for 339 yards of total offense in tonight's game, ending a streak of 29 straight games without allowing an opposing player to account for 300 yards of total offense. The previous player to record 300 yards of total offense was Kansas' Todd Reesing who had 339 yards of total offense on Nov. 8, 2008.
- Nebraska held Oklahoma to just 1-of-16 on third-down conversions in the game. The Sooners did convert 2-of-4 on fourth down.
- Tonight's game captains were seniors Pierre Allen, Prince Amukamara, Alex Henery and Roy Helu Jr.