Analysis: It's Fairly Simple What Happened

Boy, don't I feel the fool. My prediction was an 28-13 Oklahoma State victory, and I expected better defense out of both sides. But in the end, defense took the day off, except for Nebraska in the second half. Saturday, it was about Nebraska's coaches and players coming to Stillwater and doing a better job of getting things done.

There are no excuses! The Cowboys' shotty work on kickoff coverage finally bit them hard as the Niles Paul 100-yard kickoff return was a huge momentum play. Paul had a huge hole and even though Quinn Sharp had kicked the ball left as was prescribed in the game plan, enough Cowboys were blocked or delinquent in covering their lane and Paul was off to the races, fairly easily.

"Today wasn't the best day again and we had another returned," said Quinn Sharp, who set a school record on five punts by averaging an incredible 60.4 yards a punt.

"We aren't hitting our gaps correctly and not getting our assignments and we have to go back and look at the film and change what we can and hopefully, we'll start making some plays. It looked like he was going back to the middle of the field and he saw a seam where someone had taken the wrong gap and he was gone."

It was also a special teams mistake on the first Husker drive that proved costly. The Cowboys doubled the gunner for Nebraska and left themselves uncovered on the outside on the "rugby" kick by Alex Henery, and Henery, a good athlete, took off for a 27-yard gain, a first down, and the longest Nebraska running play of the day. Defensively, the Cowboys struggled as they repeatedly put Nebraska in third-down situations only to see the Huskers convert. Nebraska ran the ball for 217 yards, a lot.

However, if Nebraska had only managed its average output in the passing game then the Cowboys likely would have won the game. Instead, Taylor Martinez threw for a career high, an amazing 323 yards, on 23-of-35 and five touchdown passes.

Martinez is an average thrower at best. He had a couple of good throws, one in the second half over a Cowboys star linebacker James Thomas and in between two defensive backs to Mike McNeill. His other really good throw was dropped near the goal line.

The rest of his throws he didn't have to be that good as the Cowboy secondary, maybe too concerned with the run or not respecting "Air Nebraska", allowed Cornhuskers wide receivers to run open, really open. It was a rough day for the pass rush and for the pass defense.

"It's definitely counterproductive, and it's hard to get everybody back on the same page again," said senior defensive tackle Shane Jarka of both the offense and the defense trying to get things together in the second half.

"We have to rally together as a team and be postive toward each other because you want one to perform to a certain degree and the other perform to a certain degree and when they don't it is a mental struggle.

"I was really surprised to see his accuracy and his passing skills," added Jarka of Martinez's passing performance. "I don't think our team was ready for that. I think we focused a lot on the run game. He is a good athlete, but we beat ourselves. We didn't wrap up, we didn't make our tackles, and we didn't get as much pressure on him as we should have."

The OSU offense struggled too. While Justin Blackmon won his individual matchup with the Huskers secondary and Josh Cooper had a career-high nine receptions, the Cowboys were only a paltry 3-of-13 third-down conversions.

Brandon Weeden had the best passing day of any quarterback this season against Nebraska and Kendall Hunter had 26 carries for 201yards, but in the end the 495 total yards and 41 points look good, but not good enough for 7-0.

This team is still good. They never were going to finish unbeaten, but hopefully they learned some lessons Saturday.

They still have every goal within the Big 12 to play for, and that's reasonable. It's just this game was winnable. Nebraska played well, but the Cornhuskers aren't a national champion contender. The Cowboys still have some growing up to do before they can think about being in that role.

"The nice thing about college football is that you get to play again in seven days," said Weeden. "We'll see what we're made of this week because we have a tight knit group that loves to play football, loves to compete, and I think this next week of practice that guys will be ready to play. As tough as it is right now, we'll watch tape, learn from out mistakes, and be ready to rock."

As for me, I'll study harder and try to be better on my prediction for next week. I'm thinking more points.

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