15 observations from Evanston

It wasn't pretty the entire contest, but Nebraska did enough on Saturday to get a win.

1). What a game by quarterback Taylor Martinez. The junior finished 27-of-39 for 342 yards passing and three touchdowns. On the ground, he rushed 18 times for 99 yards and a score.

It was his poise down 28-16 that impressed me. With nearly 8:00 left in the fourth quarter, he nearly threw two interceptions. Things looked like they were spinning.

But then it was like someone flipped a switch in the California native. On a big 3rd down and 10, Martinez completed a pass to Kyler Reed for 16 yards and a first down. All of a sudden, he was a different quarterback. From there on out, he would go 10-for-11, throwing two touchdowns in the process.

"He is a big a part of offense and we thought some things were going to be there in the quarterback run game," said Pelini. "Then we thought we could throw the ball around a bit.

"He was poised. He kept his poise better than his head coach did (laughter)."

Martinez moved into second place all-time in career passing yards at Nebraska on Saturday. He became also only the 18th player in FBS history to have 5,000 yards passing and 2,000 career-rushing yards.

2.) Kudos to the Nebraska fan base for traveling so well and really taking over Evanston. This reporter was sitting with mostly Northwestern media and they were shocked at the support. "There are more empty purple seats than fans wearing purple," said one reporter.

They also let Pelini know how much they appreciated him after the game, chanting his name as he came off the field.

"What I really like about the fans was that they were in this," said Pelini. "I appreciated the fans' efforts and what they did."

3.) How about Taariq Allen getting his first career touchdown.The redshirt freshman said he was on cloud nine after the game – I bet. The amazing thing was it was a designed play for him. He was the number one option. That's a lot of trust for a guy who has one career catch.

Quincy Enunwa (Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE)
4.) I didn't forget about the gutsy effort from Quincy Enunwa. Someone on our BRR game chat asked why Enunwa (6 catches, 106 yards) was asking to come out of the game every time he made a catch. It was because Enunwa was hurting. He was hurting really bad. He even had his pads off at times. Does Nebraska win if he doesn't come back in? I think you can make a case for no.

"I'm proud of him. Quincy was very good," said Pelini. "Not only did he suck it up, but he went out there and made some very big, great plays."

5.) The word execute was used four times in the Pelini press conference according to FOX Sports NEXT's Beth Long.

6.) So much for Kain Colter hurting the Nebraska defense. Colter only had 14 carries for 35 yards and only three catches for 17 more. The talk all week was he would hurt the Nebraska defense just like Braxton Miller did.

I guess the bye week helped?

7.) The theme of the postgame: "turnovers are killing Nebraska." I don't know if I totally agree with Martinez when he says this, "We're killing ourselves. We're the ones that are stopping ourselves and if we don't stop ourselves, no one in the country can beat us." At some point, you have to realize the other team might have something to do with those turnovers. That wasn't the case Saturday. Nebraska ultimately won this game because they were the better team and had superior talent to Northwestern. But those turnovers are why Nebraska has a tendency to get beat by large margins from time-to-time.

Almost every player or coach I heard in postgame tonight used the term "killing ourselves."

8.) Maher deserves some punting praise. His average was only 42.2, but that was in large part because four of his punts were inside the Wildcat 7-yard line. When a guy like Mark Venric is on the other side, a kicker has to be at his best. Maher stepped up to the challenge.

9.) Abdullah is going to get to 1,000. A couple weeks ago this was a pretty good debate on the BRR message boards, but I think it's safe to say it's going to happen now. He's at 615 yards on the season and averaging almost 6.0 yards per carry. Even if Burkhead is back next week (questionable), Abdullah is going to get carries.

10.) Comeback tied the largest fourth quarterback comeback in school history. That really speaks to the history of Husker football, when 12 points is considered one of the greatest comebacks ever. I asked Pelini after the game if he knew of the record, "I hope we don't break it anytime soon," said the relieved head coach.

11.) I still don't like the 4th and 3 call. With nearly nine minutes left in the 3rd quarter and your team down only 11, I think it was a panic move by Pelini. It would have been a 45-yarder for Maher, which is well within his range. He's struggled at times this year, but has been pretty solid as of late. Try to take the points.

"Should I have gone for it? I don't know," said Pelini. "Maybe we should have just taken the points there. I will think a lot about that, for if we are in that situation again."

12.) What is Daimion Stafford doing? As a senior, you can't be making bone head plays like he did in the first half. Nebraska would have had the ball on the 11 yard line of the Wildcats after Mark's return mistake, instead Stafford decided to chase some Northwestern player down and push him from behind for a personal foul. Stafford definitely has "swagger" on the field, but it's starting to wear on some Husker fans.

13.) Josh Mitchell hurt his ankle on Wednesday. Pelini said he just couldn't go on Saturday. The Nebraska secondary might have had their best game of the year (not counting Idaho State) without him.

14.) As Nebraska walked off Ryan Field on Saturday, wide receiver Kenny Bell told Ciante Evans, "thanks for keeping us in this." This year both sides of the football have stepped up at times to keep a game close. I think safety P.J. Smith said it best after the game on Saturday.

"I went to Taylor and I said, 'Hey, bring us home. You go down there and score, we're going to get the ball back and you're going to score again,'" Smith said. "We all had the same mindset. We were going to win this game. We weren't going to leave here with an L. Taylor said, 'I got you.' He brought us home…He stepped up to the plate."

15.) Classy move by Northwestern to honor Tom Osborne. You wonder how many other B1G teams will do similar things. The Wildcats got him what looked like a new set of clubs and bag. Nebraska hasn't obviously been in the Big Ten long, so these schools have limited history with Osborne, so I thought it was a great move.

These highlights belong to Huskers.com. For more videos like it: CLICK HERE

Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
Facebook | Twitter| E-Mail |

Big Red Report Top Stories