The Memorial Stadium crowd cheered loudly when Cody Green was introduced on the HuskerVision screens before the game.
For the first time, Green, a true freshman quarterback, would start a game in front of the Big Red faithful.
Little did anybody in the crowd of 86,115 know then that Green’s appearance would be short-lived.
Green played the entire first quarter, then coaches replaced him with Zac Lee early in the second quarter.
Green never returned, but it wasn’t immediately known at game’s end whether he was injured, sick, or simply a decision of the coaching staff.
What was known was that Lee, the Huskers’ starting quarterback for the first seven games of the season, would lead Nebraska to its biggest victory of the season.
By lead, we mean manage a Husker offense to a mostly mistake-free performance in a 10-3 victory over longtime rival Oklahoma.
Lee did lead Nebraska’s only touchdown scoring drive. It covered 1 yard.
Lee entered after Prince Amukamara returned a Landry Jones interception 22 yards to the Oklahoma 1-yard line. With the Sooners expecting Nebraska to run, Lee tossed a play-action pass to tight end Ryan Hill for the game’s only touchdown.
The thought at the time was perhaps that Lee entered to simply give Nebraska a change-up look on offense. Coaches had said throughout the week that Lee might play, and that they may alternate him and Green at times.
But Lee remained in the game, while Green stood on the sideline and signaled in plays.
Green had done nothing to hurt Nebraska, but the Huskers weren’t exactly burning up the field with him, either. The offense had five three-and-outs with Green, although penalties, including a 15-yard chop block, sent Nebraska backward on each of its first three possessions.
Green carried the ball six times for 9 yards and was 2-of-5 passing for 8 yards.
Lee, like Green, made no major mistakes but didn’t light any fire for a struggling offense, either.
The spark came from Roy Helu, the junior running back who’d been slowed in recent weeks with a sore shoulder. Helu busted a 63-yard run in the second quarter and finished with 138 yards on 20 carries.
Otherwise, the Nebraska offense, regardless of who was behind center, did little against a stout Oklahoma defense.
Thanks to Nebraska’s defense, which forced five turnovers, that wasn’t necessary.
Reach Brian Rosenthal at email@example.com or 473-7436.