3:30 PM ET, October 23, 2010
Boone Pickens Stadium, STILLWATER, OK
Taylor Martinez tosses 5 TDs as Nebraska hands Oklahoma St. first loss
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Taylor Martinez went from running himself into the Heisman Trophy race to getting benched, only to re-emerge as a sudden passing sensation.
Martinez set a Nebraska freshman record with 323 yards passing, threw a career-high five touchdown passes and the Cornhuskers (No. 16 BCS, No. 14 AP) knocked Oklahoma State (No. 14, No. 17) from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 51-41 win on Saturday.
• Taylor Martinez set career highs with 323 passing yards and five TDs and rushed for 112 more yards in the Cornhuskers' shootout win. Martinez entered the game with three passing TDs in six games and matched that total by halftime.
• Niles Paul caught nine of Martinez's passes for 131 yards and added a 100-yard kickoff return TD.
• A week after being held to 202 total yards in a loss to Texas, the Cornhuskers rolled up 540 yards vs. Oklahoma State and improved to 6-1 on the season and 2-1 in the Big 12.
• Nebraska ended a 17-game road losing streak vs. AP top-20 teams.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
Martinez, who came in trailing only Michigan's Denard Robinson in yards rushing by a quarterback, showed off his arm while also running for 112 yards on 19 carries.
"I've seen him do it day after day. I promise you he's no different now than he was going into this game," coach Bo Pelini said. "I think this game hopefully will keep giving him more confidence.
"He threw it all over the field. He made some great throws in that game, and he showed what we knew he was capable of doing. He can hurt you with his feet. He can hurt you with his arm."
Brandon Kinnie caught the first three touchdown passes of his career, including an 8-yard lob from Martinez that made it 51-34 in the final 5 minutes. Martinez finished 23 for 35 and ended up with bigger passing totals than Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, who had been second in the nation with 327.6 yards per game.
"We finally showed everybody else that we can throw the ball like this instead of us just dropping back and running," Martinez said.
Martinez had only three touchdown passes and had never thrown for more than 150 yards in his first six starts. He even got benched in favor of Zac Lee after the Cornhuskers fell behind Texas in a 20-13 loss last week.
He proved more than capable of picking on an Oklahoma State defense ranked 114th in the country against the pass, easily eclipsing 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch's 193 yards passing that had been the Nebraska freshman record.
"I don't know if that was the right decision last week, to pull him out of the game. It sure wasn't because we lost confidence in him," Pelini said. "It's all part of the learning process. ... All those experiences are going to make him stronger as we go down the road."
Martinez rallied the Huskers for the go-ahead score with 55 seconds left before halftime, delivering a 9-yard touchdown pass to Kinnie for a 31-27 lead. Then he kept Nebraska ahead by evading the Cowboys' pressure with some impressive throws downfield.
"He is the master of the art of escape. We had him all but down a lot, but he was able to get away," Oklahoma State defensive end Richetti Jones said. "We were surprised that he threw the ball that well. He did a great job of throwing the ball even though he isn't known for that."
Kendall Hunter ran for 201 yards and two touchdowns in trying to lead Oklahoma State (6-1, 2-1 Big 12) to only the third 7-0 start in school history, but Nebraska (6-1, 2-1) clamped down after a high-scoring first half and forced the Cowboys to go three-and-out on three of their four drives in the second half.
Kyler Reed beat Andrew McGee, the most experienced member of the Cowboys' young secondary, deep for a 41-yard touchdown pass from Martinez that made it 41-27 midway through the third quarter and even Oklahoma State's high-powered offense couldn't recover.
Hunter cut the deficit in half with a 1-yard TD run on the Cowboys' ensuing drive, but Oklahoma State then went three-and-out on its next two possessions as Nebraska added to its advantage.
"It was just almost a pride factor going out there and knowing that our offense was scoring points but we were giving up too many points," Nebraska safety DeJon Gomes said.
Nebraska hadn't given up more than 21 points in 14 straight games -- the longest streak in the nation -- before Oklahoma State got there on Justin Blackmon's 80-yard TD catch on a flea flicker to give OSU a 27-24 lead with just under 6 minutes left in the first half.
Blackmon, the nation's leading receiver, finished with five catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns but was a non-factor in the second half until he caught a 25-yard TD pass with 1:24 left that only got OSU back within 10.
Weeden finished with 283 yards on 18 for 35 passing with two touchdowns and one interception.
Alex Henery hit field goals from 52, 32 and 45 yards to surpass Kris Brown's school records with 17 straight successful field goals and 59 makes for his career.
Niles Paul, who was responsible for two of Nebraska's four dropped passes that could've gone for touchdowns in the loss to Texas last week, bounced back with a career-high 131 yards receiving and Nebraska's first 100-yard kickoff return for a score since 1949.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Brandon Kinnie's TD grab gave the Huskers some breathing room with 4:21 to play.
Gameball goes to... Taylor Martinez, who returned to form with 435 total yards and five touchdowns.
Stat of the game... 1997. This is Nebraska's first win over a top 20-ranked team on the road since 1997.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-18||3-13|
|4th Down Conversions||2-2||2-3|
|TD||11:20||Brandon Kinnie 45 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Alex Henery Kick)||7||0|
|FG||09:37||Dan Bailey 31 Yd||7||3|
|FG||06:40||Dan Bailey 44 Yd||7||6|
|TD||06:27||Niles Paul 100 Yd Kickoff Return (Alex Henery Kick)||14||6|
|TD||02:39||Jeremy Smith 1 Yd Run (Dan Bailey Kick)||14||13|
|TD||14:07||Tyler Legate 1 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Alex Henery Kick)||21||13|
|TD||07:58||Kendall Hunter 8 Yd Run (Dan Bailey Kick)||21||20|
|FG||06:11||Alex Henery 52 Yd||24||20|
|TD||05:59||Justin Blackmon 80 Yd Pass From Brandon Weeden (Dan Bailey Kick)||24||27|
|TD||00:55||Brandon Kinnie 9 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Alex Henery Kick)||31||27|
|FG||10:57||Alex Henery 32 Yd||34||27|
|TD||06:35||Kyler Reed 41 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Alex Henery Kick)||41||27|
|TD||03:29||Kendall Hunter 1 Yd Run (Dan Bailey Kick)||41||34|
|FG||11:39||Alex Henery 45 Yd||44||34|
|TD||04:29||Brandon Kinnie 8 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Alex Henery Kick)||51||34|
|TD||01:24||Justin Blackmon 25 Yd Pass From Brandon Weeden (Dan Bailey Kick)||51||41|