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Martinez struggles as Nebraska offense falters under the lights
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Martinez struggles as Nebraska offense falters under the lights

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Ohio State vs. Nebraska, 9.28

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez had a frustrating night against Ohio State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

It was fourth and goal. Adrian Martinez took the snap and rolled right. One of his receivers fell down. Pressure arrived from Ohio State. Nebraska's sophomore quarterback stumbled, then fell to the ground for a 12-yard loss.

Six minutes later, Ohio State's thrashing of Nebraska was over.

And while the Husker offense's last gasp came with the game well in hand, Martinez going to the turf that final time seemed to sum up the kind of night both quarterback and team had gone through.

"We turned over the ball, we didn't execute as well, and I didn't play as well either," Martinez said while comparing Saturday's 48-7 loss to last year's 36-31 defeat in Columbus. "And I'm going to shoulder a lot of that responsibility for the offensive side of the ball and putting the defense in bad situations. Again. 

"That's on me and something I'm going to continue to work on."

Martinez was under near-constant harassment from Ohio State's obscenely talented defensive front. NU's receivers struggled to get open against a secondary littered with guys who will likely be playing on Sundays sometime down the road. 

And Martinez surely heard the boos and the scattered calls for backup Noah Vedral to be put in the game as the struggles compounded.

Fair or not, playing quarterback at Nebraska means shouldering a team's struggles, and many of the boos were likely directed at the player wearing No. 2. It takes a team effort to lose in the manner Nebraska did, but Martinez also missed some chances.

There was a badly overthrown screen pass intended for Wan'Dale Robinson on a play NU appeared to have set up perfectly. Martinez airmailed another throw well over an open receiver's head late in the first half.

There were plenty of reasons Saturday's score ended up as it did. Ohio State is among the elite of the elite, for one. But Nebraska's inconsistency on offense once again played a role.

Able to overcome four turnovers while beating Illinois, getting past three interceptions against the Buckeyes was always going to make a challenging task more difficult.

Martinez had, arguably, his worst performance as a Husker. The sophomore finished 8-of-17 passing for just 47 yards and three interceptions. At halftime he had two completions to his own teammates and three to the Buckeyes.

Statistically, Martinez had a worse day last season against Michigan, when he finished 7-for-15 for 22 yards in a 56-10 defeat. But he was also just coming back from a knee injury and NU was still in the early stages of trying to pull itself out of the muck left over from the previous regime.

Saturday was different. Nebraska was on the national stage. The Huskers, and Martinez, would have to play some of their best football of the Frost era to have "a puncher's chance," as their coach put it.

That didn't materialize. Martinez's three interceptions were a career high. Just 10 of his passing yards came in the first half.

"We keep preaching turnovers," NU coach Scott Frost said. "We can't turn it over three times in the first half of the game, especially against a team like that."

There were no good answers Saturday night, other than the obvious: Ohio State is a better football team than Nebraska. But after he nearly pulled the Huskers past the Buckeyes a year ago, and a week after he was electric in leading a second-half comeback against Illinois, Martinez was left to answer for coming up short on a national stage.

"This game's not going to define this team. It won't. We're going to learn from it," Martinez said. "We're going to have 24 hours, just like always, to mourn or rejoice, whatever the case may be, and we're going to get back to work. That's a lesson for us."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

Related to this story

It's important to note that Ohio State is the class of the conference -- by far, it says here -- because Nebraska will now settle into a four-game stretch of its schedule that appears manageable (as opposed to monstrous like OSU). The key for Scott Frost as the program's leader is to avoid allowing his team's confidence and psyche to be profoundly impacted by the Buckeyes' beating.

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