OSU-Nebraska Report Card

The Oklahoma State report card following Saturday's 51-41 loss to Nebraska.

Kendall Hunter and Justin Blackmon: A
Everyone knew going into the game who the Cowboys' primary weapons were. Despite the focus the Cornhuskers put on Hunter and Blackmon, both managed to be highly productive against the vaunted Husker defense.

Hunter tied Barry Sanders for fourth in school history with his 17th 100-yard rushing game. His 201-yard total also brought him to No. 4 all-time on the OSU career-rushing list. He passed Ernest Anderson (3,529 yards) and Barry Sanders (3,556 yards) against Nebraska, bringing the senior to 3,664 yards in his career.

Blackmon also made his mark with five receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns despite facing constant bracketing by the secondary and being blanketed by arguably the nation's top corner, Prince Amukamara. Blackmon, as well as Josh Cooper (103), became the first receivers to go over 100 yards against NU this season.

Flea flicker: A+
On the first play of the Pokes' final drive of the first half, Brandon Weeden handed the ball off, had it tossed directly back to him and he found Blackmon streaking down the right side of the field for an 80-yard touchdown lasting all of 12 seconds. The score delivered Oklahoma State's first and only lead of the game at 27-24. It was also the Cowboys' second longest scoring play of the season save for an 81-yard connection between Weeden and Blackmon against Tulsa.

OSU secondary: D-
Nebraska entered Saturday's contest ranked 111th in passing but you wouldn't have been able to tell given the wide open passing lanes and deep balls the Huskers reeled off with regularity on the Pokes' secondary.

In the second half in particular, the Huskers converted on multiple third-and-long throws that kept the NU offense on the field and the OSU offense off of it. It's hard to make a comeback when that's the case. Nebraska was 6-of-10 on third-down conversions in the second half, keeping the Cowboys at a comfortable distance.

Taylor Martinez entered the game with 723 passing yards and three touchdowns through six games. Martinez threw for five touchdowns against the Cowboys and his 323 passing yards was nearly half his previous season total.

Special teams: D
The only thing redeeming here was the kicking game. Dan Bailey stayed his always-reliable self with two first-quarter field goals and he has now made 15-straight field goal tries. He also improved to 172-for-172 in his career on extra point attempts.

Sophomore punter Quinn Sharp set an OSU record for single game punting average with his 60.4 yard per kick on five punts, highlighted by a 75-yarder in the first half.

Those are good positives but, judging by the grade, it displays how much the Cowboys' coverage team left to be desired. NU's Niles Paul had a 100-yard kickoff return that swung momentum heavily toward the Huskers. And NU also scored a touchdown on a drive that was kept alive by a 27-yard scramble by punter Alex Henery in the first half.

Despite having the nation's best deep kickoff threat with Sharp, the coaching staff had to shift to pooch kicks because of an obvious lack of faith in the unit's ability to stop the Husker return men.

Offensive production: B
Nebraska entered Boone Pickens Stadium with a 14-game streak of holding opponents to 21 or fewer points. I was the longest streak in the nation but OSU surpassed that total with 5:59 remaining in the second quarter. Nebraska was only allowing 14 points per game but the Cowboys turned that number around, hanging 41 on the Huskers. It was the most points allowed by Nebraska since it gave up 62 against Oklahoma in 2008.

But even with the success the Cowboys experienced, OSU seemed incapable of consistently moving that ball, especially when they were within striking distance in the second half. Brandon Weeden said he will have a tough time sleeping tonight after the offense managed to convert on just three of its 13 third-downs.

The end of the OSU/Nebraska series: A-
In a series that entered the new millennium with a 35-2-1 all-time advantage in favor of Nebraska, the Cowboys ended the schools' run as conference mates by winning three of the final five matchups. Saturday's loss will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Cowboy fans but the series ended far more competitive than it had been in the past. It's a shame the series ends right as it begins to pick up steam.

Cowboy faithful: A-
The attendance of 55,935 was the third-largest crowd in Boone Pickens Stadium history and it was a rowdy gathering. The fans stuck by the team all night until filing out the gates once the result was a virtual certainty. Boone Pickens Stadium is an impressive atmosphere when the bowl is completely full and it was on Saturday night.

Third quarter: C-
OSU has dominated the third quarter all season but for the first time in 2010, OSU didn't score on its opening drive of the second half. Nebraska did and OSU lost the quarter 10-7.

OSU's tackling: D
The Cowboys had their opportunities but never could seem to capitalize on them, especially when it mattered most. OSU defenders had several open shots at Martinez in particular, only to have the redshirt freshman evade the defenders and ultimately make the plays that cost OSU a 7-0 start. After the game, everyone in the Cowboy press conference from Mike Gundy to Ugo Chinasa stated missed tackles as being the straw that broke the camel's back for OSU on Saturday.


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