Nebraska football writer Parker Gabriel offers his extra points from the Huskers' game against Wisconsin on Saturday.
Turning point: There were several, but it sure didn’t help giving up an 89-yard kick-return touchdown as soon as Nebraska took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Another came in the second when sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez’s drive-opening pass was tipped and intercepted by Wisconsin linebacker Jack Sanborn. Three plays later, the Badgers led 24-14 and had scored 14 points in 1 minute, 33 seconds.
It was over when: It was really over when senior running back Wyatt Mazour was stopped on the goal line on fourth down with just a little more than two minutes remaining and the Huskers trailing by 16. They were long shots by that point — they had only two timeouts remaining and needed two touchdowns and both two-point conversions — but that was the final nail.
Quotable: Martinez, summing up what has been a difficult stretch for him personally with on-field struggles, a four-game losing streak and public scrutiny.
“I would be lying to you if I told you it was easy. It is tough seeing some of the things and hearing this or that. But I have my family, I have my teammates, and more importantly, these coaches who believe in me. I am more than thankful for that. No one has turned their back on me as a player or as a person. I will be forever grateful. The guys inside this building, who truly know me and know what I am about, know I am very thankful for that. I have been working as hard as I can to get us where we need to be. I am going to continue to do that and try and play my best to give this team the best chance to win.”
Game ball: UW junior running back Jonathan Taylor didn’t have a rush attempt longer than 19 yards and still finished with 204 and two touchdowns. He’s gone past the 200 mark in each of his three career outings against the Huskers — it would be shocking if he played them again, considering he’s a projected first-round NFL Draft pick — and on this afternoon passed Archie Griffin for second on the Big Ten's all-time rushing yards list and Herschel Walker for most rushing yards through a junior season in NCAA history.
Game ball: NU junior running back Dedrick Mills. The junior college transfer said after the game he didn’t want to be outdone by Taylor and he wasn’t, rushing for a career-best 188 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He ran hard. He ran efficiently. He ran through tackles. If Nebraska gets that kind of production the next two weeks, they’ll have a fighting chance at six wins.
Hat tip: Martinez. He had a gritty performance, certainly not free of mistakes or the prettiest he’s turned in, but clearly one his head coach was proud of. Martinez finished with 309 total yards would have been well north of 100 rushing were it not for four sacks.
Deep connection: Not a deep connection so much as a field-flipper. Martinez and Mills on one drive turned in back-to-back rushes of 45 and 43 yards. That was possible only because NU started the drive on its own 4-yard line and then the 45-yard run was followed by a 15-yard sideline infraction on the Huskers.
Numbers for the road
674: Career rushing yards for Taylor on 74 attempts against Nebraska.
0: Carries of those 74 attempts that went for negative yardage.
8.2: Yards per play for the Huskers against a UW defense that came in allowing less than half that at 4.01.
2: Receiving touchdowns on the season for JD Spielman after a 23-yarder on Saturday. No Husker receiver has more than two touchdown catches this season.
1: Fumble recovery in Big Ten play for the Huskers after Taylor lost one in the first quarter. NU hadn’t recovered a fumble since Sept. 14 against Northern Illinois.
1: Tackle for loss for NU against the Badgers for a loss of 2 yards compared to UW, which recorded seven for 37.
46.7: The Huskers’ conversion percentage on field-goal attempts this fall after Barret Pickering missed a 41-yarder against the Badgers. Pickering is 3-of-5 in three games since returning from an injury.
9: Points by which UW outscored NU in the kicking game, thanks to Collin Larsh’s 3-for-3 outing on field goals.
3: Kick returns for walk-on freshman running back Zach Weinmaster this season after two on Saturday.