It’s time for some Nebraska talk. If you’re new here, this is my column where I find things to complain about, even when there isn’t much to complain about. I’m talking about the kinds of things that make an old man like me walk outside and yell at clouds. So what’s grinding my gears after a 48-7 demolition of the Cornhuskers in Lincoln? Well, let’s get into it.
On the very first play of the game, Malik Harrison did a bad thing. After Chase Young forced Adrian Martinez to vacate the pocket, the linebacker committed a personal foul with a late hit out of bounds. Ohio State had contained the play deep in Nebraska territory and Martinez was way out of bounds when Harrison decided to launch himself at the Cornhuskers’ quarterback. Rather than continuing to have the Huskers backed up, it gave Nebraska’s offense some breathing room to start the trive. That ultimately didn’t hurt the Buckeyes due to Jeff Okudah’s second interception of the season but it was a mistake you wouldn’t expect from a seasoned veteran like Harrison and it can probably be blamed on being a bit too hyped up to start the game.
Following Okudah’s second interception of the game — which ended Nebraska’s best drive of the first quarter — Justin Fields delivered a pass to Austin Mack for a big play that should have been even bigger. Mack ran a nice route and lost his man with a double move, but he kind of stumbled coming out of his break. He recovered enough to catch the football but went down just after that as he was still a bit off balance. Had he been able to keep his footing he certainly would have scored a touchdown. Ultimately that stumble cost Ohio State points as the Buckeyes eventually had to settle for a field goal at the end of the drive.
Fields had an opportunity to cap an impressive first half with yet another touchdown. Hurling the ball toward the end zone toward Chris Olave in the final minute of the first half, Fields put just one splash of sauce too many on his throw and Olave couldn’t haul it in. It would have been a spectacular finish to a statement half on the road but it fell harmlessly to the turf and allowed Nebraska to finally get a defensive stop a couple plays later — something the Huskers didn’t have up to that point.
On the first drive of the second half, Fields missed his read on a zone read play and kept the ball, failing to get back to the line of scrimmage. Had he handed off to J.K. Dobbins, it looked like the play had plenty of room to be successful and possibly with one move or broken tackle from Dobbins could have been a touchdown. The drive then bogged down and Fields took a sack on third down, leading to a Blake Haubeil field goal.
Fields also still takes a couple sacks per game that aren’t necessary. Hopefully he’ll learn to airmail the ball into the stands to avoid those lost yards as he gets more experience as a starter. He’s generally already outside the pocket when it happens, so it’s really just a matter of getting rid of it.
I guess what I’m saying is, “Damn it, Justin, be more perfect!”
Flag Ruins Wilson Return
After Nebraska’s first drive of the second half, Garrett Wilson had his second electric punt return of the season (in back-to-back weeks) but it was called back because of a penalty. Sevyn Banks was flagged for a block in the back, nullifying the freshman’s outstanding return. It’s becoming clear that Wilson is the perfect guy for the punt return role and it wouldn’t surprise me if we start seeing him more often than Demario McCall, who is…let’s use the word ‘adventurous.’
Missing a Sack is Whack
Brendon White had an opportunity to sack Martinez late in the third quarter but bounced off the Nebraska quarterback. That allowed Martinez the opportunity to make the first big explosion play for Nebraska all night on a 56-yard run. It led to the Cornhuskers finally getting on the scoreboard with 2:07 left in the third quarter on a Dedrick Mills rushing touchdown.
Jameson Williams muffed and then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which also made me angry even though he recovered it and the Cornhuskers were offside on the play anyway.
That’s a lot fewer words than I expected to write for the Nebraska game. Ohio State was so dominant that it was difficult to find things that made me mad. The defense was outstanding, the offense was nearly unstoppable, and there weren’t even a lot of dumb things like penalties or turnovers to harsh my mellow. After posting back-to-back wins, maybe the Michigan State Spartans will aggravate me more next week.