Ohio State has not lost two straight regular season games since 2011. Nebraska (2-6) is unlikely to change that this weekend, but they are not the same team that started the season with six straight losses.
"Night and day," said Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer of the Huskers transformation.
One thing that is definitely different: the offense has taken off. They have averaged 542 yards in each of their last five games.
And a big part of that is freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, who has averaged 251.2 yards passing in the team's Big Ten games, is now healthy.
He has thrown a touchdown every time he's taken the field, outside of a 59-10 loss to Michigan, which marked his first game back from a knee injury, and just his second collegiate start. He has does have six interceptions to go along with his 11 touchdowns, but for the most part, he has shown the talent that had Meyer recruiting him.
He's also a mobile QB, rushing for a season high 125 yards against Minnesota three weeks ago. It's a good thing for Nebraska that he is so elusive, because the team is 86th nationally in sacks allowed.
Martinez's two main targets are Stanley Morgan, Jr. (44 catches, 638 yards, 5 touchdowns) and JD Spielman (53 catches, 686 yards, 7 touchdowns).
Besides Martinez, the Nebraska rushing game depends largely on Devine Ozigbo, who has eight touchdowns and averages 7.40 yards per carry.
As much as their offense has taken off, though, they have struggled on the other side of the ball. They are 100th in scoring defense. They have given up more 40+ yard plays than all but 15 FBS teams.
They are failing to generate turnovers (ranked 90th nationally), tackle the opponent in the backfield (ranked 76th nationally). In fact, they have yet to give up fewer than 28 points and 474 yards in any of their Big Ten games.
Still, they include two players with 5 sacks (Luke Gifford, Ben Stille) and they run a "Bear" defense with a run-stopping front that Meyer pointed out this week they had a difficult time trying to solve against Purdue.
The two teams play at noon today.
- On eight occasions this season, a Nebraska rusher has recorded 100+ yards. That includes the Minnesota game where three players (Martinez, Ozigbo, Maurice Washington) crossed the century mark.
- Nebraska has scored on their opening drive in four of their last five games.
- From the Huskers game notes: "More than two-thirds of the squad is comprised of underclassmen, as 93 of the Huskers’ 138 players are either freshmen or sophomores."