Columbus, Ohio – Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey combined for 164 yards on the ground, but Nebraska was unable to keep pace with No. 5 Ohio State as the Buckeyes posted a 52-17 win over the Huskers in the Big Ten Conference opener at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
Nebraska generated 377 yards of total offense, including 217 rushing yards and 160 passing yards against Ohio State. McCaffrey led the Husker rushing attack with 87 yards on nine carries, including a 47-burst on Nebraska’s opening drive. McCaffrey’s long run set up a 10-yard touchdown trot for Martinez less than two minutes into the game, as the Huskers took a 7-0 lead. Martinez finished with 77 rushing yards on 12 carries for the Big Red.
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Martinez added an efficient passing day by completing 12-of-15 passes for 105 yards, while McCaffrey completed 4-of-5 passes for 55 yards. Wan’Dale Robinson was their top target, hauling in six receptions for 49 yards.
While Nebraska’s quarterbacks combined to complete 16-of-20 passes, Ohio State’s Justin Fields was even more efficient, completing 20-of-21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Fields added 15 carries for 54 yards and another score for the Buckeyes on the day. Fields’ 330 total yards helped Ohio State amass 498 yards, including 222 rushing yards.
After Nebraska took a quick 7-0 lead on a four-play, 75-yard drive to open the season, Fields pushed the Buckeyes down the field for an 11-play, 75-yard drive in 5:05 to tie the score at 7-7 with 8:04 left in the first quarter. After the Buckeyes got a stop on Nebraska’s next drive, Ohio State took a 14-7 lead on a Fields 42-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson with 4:02 left in the opening quarter.
The two defenses settled down for the next 10 minutes, until Nebraska found the end zone to tie the score at 14 on a Dedrick Mills three-yard touchdown run with 8:24 left in the first half. NU’s drive covered 78 yards in 11 plays and chewed up 5:17 on the clock. Mills finished the day with 33 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Ohio State answered with an 11-play drive of its own that covered 71 yards, but Nebraska held the Buckeyes out of the end zone and forced a 34-yard Blake Haubeil field goal with 3:12 left in the half. The Buckeyes took a 17-14 lead, but the Huskers got the ball back with a chance to tie or take a lead into the locker room at halftime.
But Nebraska’s drive began with a delay of game penalty, before Martinez was sacked for a five-yard loss on 2nd-and-15 to set up 3rd-and-20 from their own 15 for the Huskers. Martinez was knocked for another five-yard loss to force a punt and give the Buckeyes the ball back at Nebraska’s 46 with 2:25 left.
Ohio State took advantage and control by covering those 46 yards in just five plays capped by a Master Teague III six-yard run to put the Buckeyes ahead 24-14 at the half. OSU was also set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half. Fields capitalized on the opportunity with a 17-yard touchdown run to cap an eight-play, 75-yard drive to put OSU up 31-14 with 11:24 left in the third quarter.
The three consecutive scores by Ohio State in just a 6:48 of game time put Nebraska in a must-score position on its opening drive of the second half, and the Huskers started marching. However, on the sixth play of Nebraska’s drive, Martinez fumbled at the OSU 45 and Buckeye defensive back Sevyn Banks scooped up the ball and raced 55 yards for a touchdown to give Ohio State a 38-14 lead.
Nebraska ended Ohio State’s surge with a 22-yard Connor Culp field goal with 3:56 left in the period to send the Huskers to the fourth trailing 38-17. OSU added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to complete the scoring.
Will Honas, Marquel Dismuke and Collin Miller each produced seven tackles to lead the Husker defense. Honas notched six solo tackles, including a pair of sacks for the Big Red from his linebacker spot.
Nebraska is scheduled to return to action next week against Wisconsin. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. (CT) with live national television coverage on FS1.
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