COLUMBUS, Ohio — Should 38 points be enough to win a football game?
“No,” Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck said flatly after the Huskers’ 63-38 loss to Ohio State on Saturday night.
You might know where Beck’s going with this.
While outscoring Ohio State on this night seemed like a stiff enough task as it was, given Nebraska’s defense couldn’t come up with any stops after the first quarter, the Huskers offense did itself no favors.
Four turnovers, all of them by junior quarterback Taylor Martinez. Three interceptions, and a fourth-quarter fumble.
Ohio State scored touchdowns after three of the turnovers.
“We’ve got to do our part,” Beck said. “We’ve got to score more than the opponent, whatever that is. We can’t turn the ball over and give them short fields and touchdowns. It’s been the story of the season, and we’ve gotta fix it.”
“I don’t know,” Beck said. “We’re going to have to maybe … I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Nebraska’s offense did many good things. The Huskers had 437 yards of total offense, twice came from behind to take the lead and, although it was a season low, still ran for 223 yards.
But again, they couldn’t get out of their own way, what with the turnovers and nine penalties. In the first half alone, Nebraska had four false starts and a delay of game in front of a loud, boisterous Ohio Stadium crowd of 106,102.
“I don’t know what it was,” Beck said. “It felt like we were doing pretty good. Both sides of the football, it seemed like the first quarter we were in control of the game. I don’t know where (it turned), but it did a little bit. Got the crowd involved.”
Martinez, who was 15-of-25 passing for 214 yards and a touchdown, had big plays, including a 74-yard strike to Kenny Bell when Martinez absorbed a crushing blow.
He also had those costly miscues, evoking images of last year’s 48-17 loss at Wisconsin, when Martinez also threw three interceptions.
This night, his first mistake came early, when he threw late and forced a pass intended for Quincy Enunwa. Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby caught it instead and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 lead.
Roby intercepted another Martinez pass over the middle in the second quarter, and Ryan Shazier picked off a deep pass late in the third quarter.
“There are some things he did wrong on the first one,” Beck said. “The last one might have been a bad route by the receiver. The middle one, we missed not getting a back out. He was chipping, helping in protection, and we didn’t expand that flat player, and I think it was a tough one to try to force that throw in there.
“The other two, the first one for sure shouldn’t have been thrown on that side. It should’ve been thrown the other way.”
Senior tight end Ben Cotton quickly came to the defense of Martinez, saying his teammate didn’t need a pick-me-up or words of encouragement.
“Taylor’s fine,” Cotton said. “Taylor doesn’t need anyone to pick him up. Taylor’s a confident quarterback and I’m proud to say he’s our quarterback. No matter what, at the end of the day he’s our quarterback, and I’m proud of him.”
Asked if there was a turning point in the game, Cotton couldn’t pinpoint one.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m confident to say none of the guys on this team ever gave up. I’m proud to say that. It (the turning point) could’ve been at any point. It’s a whole thing. You can’t just point at a play here or there. We made too many mistakes to win that game.
“I think we’re going to find a way to respond positively to this. We’ve still got everything out in front of us we want to accomplish. We’re going to find a way to correct miscues and figure out a way to make sure we’re not being as penalized as much as we are and not turn the ball over like we have been.”