RUNNING GAME (B)
When Taylor Martinez proved to Oklahoma State that he could throw the football -- and his receivers proved they could catch it -- things opened up in the running game. Nebraska had 69 rushing yards in the first quarter and finished with 217 -- and actually outrushed Oklahoma State. There was so much talk about Martinez and his arm that his 112 rushing yards nearly went unnoticed. That's a good sign for this offense.
PASSING GAME (A)
Martinez is growing up as a quarterback. Most impressive is how he doesn't quickly give up on a passing play when you might think he's probably eager to take off running. "We always pass the ball like this (in practice)," Martinez said. "We finally showed everybody else that we can throw the ball like this." We've seen his competitive instincts in the run game, but Martinez showed them Saturday with his arm, bouncing out of pressure to make plays. "One week, everybody back home has him running for the Heisman, the next week they want the other guy to play," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "It's just part of growing up as a young quarterback. Tonight, he grew up a lot."
AGAINST THE RUN (D)
Keep in mind, Nebraska played the nation's top-ranked scoring offense and second-ranked overall offense. "They are a good defense," OSU offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen said. "When you play a good defense, they stop you at times. So they stopped us half the time. I give them credit." But the issues with tackling too high, taking poor angles and not wrapping up are a sudden concern. Kendall Hunter had a lot to do with that. When you thought Hunter might be down, the hard-nosed running back kept fighting.
AGAINST THE PASS (C)
Nebraska entered the game leading the nation in pass defense, allowing 117 yards per game. Oklahoma State surpassed that mark with 5:59 remaining in the second quarter. The Cowboys went after cornerback Prince Amukamara early and often, and beat him on the flea-flicker pass to Justin Blackmon for 80 yards and a touchdown. Eventually, Alfonzo Dennard covered Blackmon, by far the most impressive receiver NU has faced to date.
SPECIAL TEAMS (A)
When Alex Henery rolled out the first time Nebraska looked to punt, he had the option of punting or running. He chose the latter, and it paid off big-time. His 27-yard run converted a first down and spurred a touchdown drive. "No one really reacted to it. They just let me kind of go," Henery said. If it looks like Henery can run, remember, he did a lot of running as a forward in soccer. Henery's three field goals give him the school record for a career (59). Of course, Niles Paul's 100-yard kickoff return was a nice boost, too. "I just saw an opening," Paul said.
PLAY CALLING (A)
Nebraska didn't necessarily plan on throwing the ball that much, players said. Credit the coaching staff for adjusting and relying on Martinez's arm. "We've got to be multidimensional. We know that," Watson said. "We've been letting him mature and not pushing him too far where it becomes a bad, negative thing. We've just got to manage a young guy."
GAME MANAGEMENT (B)
Only one fumble, and no debilitating penalties. Both are improvements from last week. Nebraska appeared to have difficulties substituting defensively to match Oklahoma's hurry-up, no-huddle attack -- although that's something that's difficult to simulate in practice. "They were substituting like crazy," linebackers coach Mike Ekeler said.
Maybe Nebraska should've played Texas in Austin. The Longhorns look horrible at home, and the Huskers keep winning away from Lincoln. That's seven straight true road victories for Bo Pelini's bunch. "I think our team comes more together as a unit when we play away games," Martinez said. Whatever works. This was a huge win, with Missouri coming to town next week. Has it really been 13 years since Nebraska has defeated a Top 20 team on the road? Amazing.