RUNNING GAME (A)
Sound, tough running from both Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead, but particularly Burkhead, who carried the Huskers with his career day. Whether in the "wildcat" or at running back, the sophomore churned for yards after contact. He used key blocks from Mike McNeill and Brandon Kinnie on his 19-yard TD run in overtime. But overall, fumbles continue to be a concern.
PASSING GAME (B)
Cody Green was serviceable and didn't hurt his team. That's what you need from your backup quarterback thrust into duty in a road game with very windy conditions. His 29-yard strike to Kyler Reed on third-and-12 set up a touchdown, and was his third third-down conversion on that drive. Nebraska was 7-of-14 on third down. Most important: No interceptions.
AGAINST THE RUN (B)
Nebraska did a much better job against running back Alexander Robinson in the second half, holding him to 25 yards after he'd run for 76 in the first half. The Blackshirts tackled him for 13 lost yards, with 10 of those in the second half.
AGAINST THE PASS (B)
Nebraska intercepted three passes (although the PAT doesn't count in the stat book) and gave up three touchdown passes. So mixed results for a secondary that played without Alfonzo Dennard (concussion). Iowa State went after freshman Ciante Evans, and after scoring a TD on him, NU coaches went with Anthony West. "We didn't lose faith in Ciante, but we just thought it was a veteran's game," NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said. "Westy went in there and he was just calmer, more composed. (A) freshman gives up a play like that, and it's hard to come back." Iowa State also showed many routes and formations Nebraska hadn't seen on film, including option looks and wheel routes. "When you're a little different than everybody else, teams attack a little different," Pelini said. "It's hard to gauge that."
SPECIAL TEAMS (C)
Well, some very questionable decisions in the return game. Burkhead fielded a punt at the 6-yard line, and three plays later, Nebraska punted, giving Iowa State prime field position (NU 47) for a game-tying touchdown drive. Then, of course, there was Niles Paul's decision to field a kickoff 5 yards deep in the end zone and bring it out. That didn't end well. Anyone else notice Eric Martin's hit on Nebraska's first kickoff? A very sound, good, legal tackle on David Sims.
PLAY CALLING (B)
The "wildcat" formation wasn't the biggest shock; Nebraska had shown that look late last season, and with quarterback health a major concern entering the season's homestretch, using Burkhead's feet was a good decision. But why not use it more? Nebraska seemed to drift away from the "wildcat," even though Iowa State never really proved it could stop it. Burkhead averaged 6.4 yards per carry.
GAME MANAGEMENT (C)
For the second straight week, confusion reigned between NU's captains and game officials on a coin toss. Nebraska correctly used the word "defer" after winning the pregame coin toss this time, but in overtime, didn't get the end of the field it wanted. After ISU won the toss and chose to play defense, Nebraska wanted to play with the wind, but somehow ended up on the south end, meaning both teams had to drive into the wind. "There was some miscommunication," Pelini said. Nebraska also burned two timeouts in the second half when there appeared to be personnel confusion in the huddle. Both plays were on third down. The false start on third-and-short proved critical, too.
You had a feeling this was going to be one of those days where a victory by any margin would be welcome. No Taylor Martinez. A road game after a back-to-back wins against ranked teams. A history of tussles in Ames. The Huskers found a way, and now hope to heal up with a resurgent Kansas team coming to town.