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ThotDoc's Brain Droppings on the Ohio State Game

Barrett leads Buckeye Bloodbath as Blackshirts Bombed, Riley Reeling, and the Husker Reputation in Ruins

In an embarrassing display of ineptitude, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were humbled at home by the Ohio State Buckeyes 56-14 in a game that probably wasn’t that close. The Huskers extended their home night game losing streak to two games in the largest margin of defeat at Memorial Stadium since 1949 and by giving up the most points ever scored by a conference opponent at home. Here is a list of just a few other statistics we Husker fans are struggling with which to contend:

· Nebraska went into the game as a 24-point underdog, the largest margin at home since 1957.

· At halftime, Ohio State had outscored Nebraska 97-3 in the last six quarters the two teams have played, including 90 unanswered points.

· The Buckeyes have not punted once in the last eight quarters against Nebraska.

· The Buckeyes’ 633 total yards were just 26 yards shy of matching the all-time opponent record of 656 set by Oklahoma in 1956.

· Ohio State had 41 first downs, the most ever allowed by Nebraska.

· Ohio State was 10 of 13 on third down conversions, and on two of those misses, they converted on fourth down.

· Ohio State scored on eight consecutive scoring drives of 96, 85, 80, 71, 59, 75, 75 and 66 yards.

· Including the last three touchdowns by Wisconsin last week, Nebraska gave up 11 touchdowns in 11 straight possessions.

· J.T Barrett’s NCAA pass efficiency rating in the game of 214.55 was the highest by an opposing quarterback in Nebraska history. Oh, and his 81.8 completion percentage was only second all-time.

· Nebraska managed just 44 rushing yards on 16 carries and didn’t cross midfield until 5:31 left in the first half.

· The win gives Ohio State 892 victories on the major-college all-time win list and have now tied Nebraska for 4th place on that list. The two teams are heading in opposite directions.

At halftime with Nebraska trailing 35-0, Head Coach Mike Riley reportedly said in an interview that he “wasn’t concerned about the scoreboard.” While that may just be another example of coach-speak, this lack of concern that the score reflects the play on the field will likely lead to his inevitable dismissal. Also at half, the television commentators were essentially joking about how Nebraska can no longer be considered a reliable measuring stick on how good an opponent may be, because they are no longer a “blue blood” in the current college parlance. It’s true that Nebraska is not the Nebraska of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The numbers above are what that former Nebraska used to do to teams like Kansas and Iowa State. It was unfathomable to me that we could end up on the other end being compared to those perennial cellar dwellers. We have become to the contenders that “creampuff” easy “W” on their schedule. For the faithful and loyal fans who have sold out Memorial Stadium for 360 consecutive games, that kind of performance can’t continue, and if it does the sell-out streak surely will not. These fans did not boo tonight’s abysmal display. They just left the stadium very early. You know it’s bad when the red balloons are released with the accomplishment of the Huskers second 1st down late in the second quarter.

On offense, the Huskers scored 4 more points than the Buckeye’s defensive average. We are just not good enough to get into a shootout with a team that never has to punt. To the offensive line and Tanner Lee’s credit, they only yielded one sack, and Lee did not throw an interception. Lee was a respectable 23-38 passing for 303 yards and had two touchdown tosses. This was the first time that Lee has surpassed 300 yards as a Husker. He did his best to get the ball into very tight spaces as the Buckeye defensive backs may be the best in the league. Nick Gates had the unenviable task of trying to block Nick Bosa, who had two QB hurries but did not record a tackle. Because of the score deficit growing so rapidly, the run game was a bust as noted above, as Devine Ozigbo led all rushers with 24 yards on 9 carries. Ironically, the longest gain on the ground was an 11-yard scramble by Patrick O’Brien against the Ohio State reserves.

The only significant Husker highlight of the night was the play of freshman JD Spielman who set the Nebraska single-game record for receiving yards with 11 catches for 200 yards eclipsing the previous record of 167 yards by Matt Davison at Texas A&M in 1998. Tonight’s perfomance bested Spielman’s previous career highs of six receptions for 79 yards set last week against Wisconsin. He also had a career long 77-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. He just missed another long touchdown trot as he was barely tripped on a 38-yard reception in the second quarter. Spielman has become the go to guy for Lee as out of Nebraska’s five 3rd down conversions, he was the recipient on three and he also converted on 4th down twice. He appeared to land hard on his shoulder late in the game and I hope he will be okay as he seems to be about the only receiver who can get consistently open. Stanley Morgan Jr (3 catches for 30 yards) had his most pedestrian night of the season but made a great catch on a beautiful throw for a 17-yard touchdown reception in the 3rd quarter. Morgan, who was the Big Ten’s leading receiver, seemed to struggle against the coverage of OSU’s defensive backs. He remains two catches shy of the Nebraska career catch top ten list. Stanley also seemed to tweak his hip as the wide receiver corps is becoming the walking wounded. De’Mornay Pierson-El (2 catches for 9 yards) missed a chance for a highlight score when he bobbled away Tanner Lee’s Hail Mary throw to end the first half. The tight ends contributed 5 catches for the game, but it would really help if they would learn to block a bit better. Mikale Wilbon was about killed on one catch after a tight end whiff.

Defensively, it is hard to praise much of anything when you give up 56 points and 633 yards. I suppose one thing Ohio State did was have lots of long drives that allowed for lots of tackle opportunities for the defense. I know it didn’t seem like it while watching, but the Blackshirts did manage seven tackles for loss, while the Buckeyes had just one. Linebacker Chris Weber led the team with 15 tackles for his second double-figure tackle game of the season and his fourth with at least eight tackles. Llinebacker Dedrick Young had a career-high 14 tackles, bettering his previous high of 11 tackles against Illinois in 2015 and Purdue in 2016. Safety Joshua Kalu had five tackles, increasing his career total to 190. Kalu is 10 tackles from becoming the sixth Nebraska defensive back with 200 career tackles. Linebacker Sedrick King finished with a career-high seven tackles, bettering his previous high of three. Linebacker Mohamed Barry had a career-high eight tackles, bettering his previous high of four vs. Arkansas State. Redshirt freshman Dicaprio Bootle made his first career start, lining up at safety in place of the injured Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed and finished with three tackles but he had five if you count his two pass interference plays. Unofficially, Lamar Jackson led the team in missed tackles and poor angles. The kid may be a great athlete, but he is not a good corner.

Special teams were not much of a factor in the game. When the other team does not punt, there are no returns. Although there was plenty of opportunity for kickoff returns, out of five returns the longest was a 20-yarder by JD Spielman. Drew Brown had two touchbacks on three kickoffs and Caleb Lightbourn averaged 48.0 yards on 4 punts including a 57-yarder that pinned OSU at their 4-yard line.

People are growing weary of the Mike Riley era. When he was hired, the idea was to avoid the blowouts in big games that were so often a staple of the previous regime. Unfortunately, the blowouts remain as do more losses. One question that many are asking is does Riley get fired by the interim AD or by the new one? If he is let go before the end of the season, which coach finishes out as the interim? And of course, the big question becomes, how will this affect the current recruiting class that has some real potential? On the other hand, what good does a good recruiting class do if you can’t coach them up and make them stars on the field? Five games left including a visit to State College. Can the Huskers find three wins among the other four opponents? There will be lots of wonder and consternation about these and other questions as we head into the bye week. Go Big Red!!

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