COLUMBUS, Ohio — Whenever a score is as lopsided as the 62-3 defeat Nebraska took on the chin Saturday night, the question of effort is always brought up.
Defensive coordinator Mark Banker was asked point-blank if he felt his team gave its full effort on every play in the loss to Ohio State.
"I don't know. I don't know," he said. "I'll have to see that. I would like to go the other way and say, 'Oh, we lost because we didn't give great effort or something.' But it becomes very difficult as a competitor to just absolutely be at your peak. Everybody's human. But it's not excusable whatsoever."
The Huskers did not force a Buckeye punt all game, and the defense ended up being on the field for 37 minutes, 18 seconds.
"I know this, whether you played with effort or didn't, we all expect as coaches and players, everybody to give their best effort on every play, no matter what the circumstances are," Banker said.
After the game, Nate Gerry said the talk by the team was about putting this defeat behind it.
"Just use this game, use it as a tool for the next ones and build off that," Gerry said. "Can't do anything about it now, but the only thing we can do from it now is learn. That's what I think we're going to do (Sunday), get in the film room and just keep going."
Fyfe steps in: In replacing Tommy Armstrong, senior quarterback Ryker Fyfe finished 5-of-18 for 52 yards with one pick that was returned for a touchdown.
Fyfe said maybe there would have been a little different plan if the staff had known throughout the week he was going to play such a prominent role.
"I don't know what they'd do but probably throw out some zone read and put in some more passes and different runs, but either way I still have to go out and execute, there's no excuses," Fyfe said.
Tip drill: It turned out to be an omen of things to come. On Nebraska's third play from scrimmage, Ohio State safety Damon Webb ran under a tipped Tommy Armstrong pass and picked his way up the sideline for a score a little more than 90 seconds into the game.
"We're trying to throw a slant, and the guy covering the back puts his hand up. The guy’s playing man coverage on the running back and tips the ball," offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. "It’s an unfortunate play. We hit some of those slants (but) it’s a bad way to start for sure. It just puts you in a hole, and you’re on the road in a tough environment and you get the crowd going with something like that. It’s hard to overcome that."
The Huskers were on the other end of a tip on the next drive, when a pass intended for Jordan Westerkamp was tipped and caught by Stanley Morgan, who turned the play into a 26-yard reception for a first down. It ended up being Nebraska's second-longest play from scrimmage.
Relieved teammates: There weren't a lot of good things to happen to the Huskers on Saturday. One that definitely was when Armstrong came walking through the tunnel, onto the field and over to the Husker bench early in the third quarter.
He’d just returned from the hospital, after going down earlier in the game.
“It was obviously a scary moment for us when they had to take him off on the cart and into the ambulance,” NU kicker Drew Brown said. “Seeing him run back on the field, it was really the only thing that mattered was him being OK. It was a good sight.”
NU O-lineman Sam Hahn said the players didn’t get an update on Armstrong at halftime. Then he was back there with him.
“That was good to see,” Hahn said. “At that point we’re in the game, and the game wasn’t turning out like we wanted it to be, but it’s good to see him walk down the tunnel and back out and get back out there on the sideline with us.”
About 25 minutes after the game Armstrong came out of the locker room, and smiled as he hugged several friends and family there waiting for him by the team bus.
Taking a knee: For the second time this season, the Husker team was on the field as the national anthem was played.
Senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey took a knee amid his teammates as the song played, as he did with two other teammates against Northwestern. (DaiShon Neal and Mohamed Barry did not take a knee this time.)
Rose-Ivey spoke after the Northwestern game about his decision to kneel, saying it was important for him as a college athlete to send a message about the social injustices he sees facing minorities in the world.
"We must have accountability, we must have understanding, we must have love, but we also must have genuine dialogue, we must have genuine solutions and demand genuine action," Rose-Ivey said then.
This and that: Drew Brown's first-quarter field goal gave him 44 for his career and moved him into sole possession of third place in school history for made field goals. ... This was the first time Nebraska lost consecutive road games in the same season since joining the Big Ten. The only other time Nebraska lost two consecutive Big Ten road games was the final road game of 2011 against Michigan and the first road game of 2012 at, where else, Ohio State. ... Saturday's crowd of 108,750 was the fourth-largest ever to see a Nebraska football game. ... Nebraska dropped to 1-4 all-time against Ohio State, including 0-4 in Columbus.