Columbus, Ohio – Nebraska’s defense forced three consecutive turnovers, two of them helping Nebraska take a halftime lead, but No. 8 Ohio State responded with two third-quarter touchdowns to regain the lead and thwart an upset attempt with a 36-31 victory over the Huskers on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Nebraska (2-7, 1-5 Big Ten Conference) had its two game-winning streak snapped. Ohio State (8-1, 5-1) improved to 6-0 following a bye week under coach Urban Meyer and rebounded from its 49-20 loss two week ago at Purdue.
Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez was 22-of-33 passing for 266 yards and ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns to finish with 338 yards of total offense. As a team, Nebraska collected 450 total yards of offense.
Nebraska trailed 16-7 when the Blackshirts forced fumbles on consecutive Ohio State drives late in the second quarter, both leading to touchdowns for a 21-16 Nebraska lead at halftime.
The Huskers made it three straight turnovers when junior cornerback Lamar Jackson intercepted Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the end zone to end the Buckeyes’ opening drive of the second half.
Nebraska moved near midfield before punting, and Ohio State put together an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, with sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins scoring from 3 yards out to give the Buckeyes a 23-21 lead with 5:39 remaining in the third quarter.
The teams traded possessions, then Ohio State used a 37-yard by junior running back Mike Weber to set up a 9-yard touchdown by senior wide receiver Parris Campbell on a jet sweep play. That pushed Ohio State’s lead to 30-21 going into the fourth quarter.
After punting on its first five possessions of the second half, Nebraska finally put together a scoring drive, thanks to a big play through the air. Martinez, scrambling under pressure, hit senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. for 46 yards to the Ohio State 20-yard line.
Nebraska advanced to the ball to 1-yard line on fourth down, but down nine points, elected to kick a field goal. Freshman placekicker Barrett Pickering made it from 18 yards, pulling the Huskers within 30-24 with 7:46 remaining.
Ohio State responded with a Dobbins touchdown run of 42 yards, and the Buckeyes led by 12 with 4:52 remaining after an unsuccessful two-point conversion. But Nebraska answered quickly, with Martinez hitting sophomore receiver JD Spielman for 17-yard touchdown, as the Huskers covered 75 yards in 1:55, with Martinez going 5-of-5 passing in the seven-play series.
Nebraska never saw the football again, as Ohio State ran the final 2:57 off the clock to seal the victory.
Nebraska received game’s the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in 12 plays while taking 5:05 off the clock. Senior running back Devine Ozigbo, who rushed for 86 yards in the game, finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. It marked the fifth straight game Nebraska began the game with a touchdown drive.
After a failed onside kick attempt gave Ohio State a short field, the Huskers stuffed the Buckeyes on four plays, including a fourth-and-2 run, and took possession at their 22-yard line.
Nebraska, though, gained no yards in three plays, and Ohio State’s Keandre Jones blocked Isaac Armstrong’s punt. The ball sailed out of the side of the end zone for a safety to cut the Huskers’ lead to 7-2.
Following the free kick, Ohio State drove 68 yards in six plays, scoring on Haskins’ 42-yard touchdown pass to an open Johnnie Dixon for a 9-7 lead. The Buckeyes forced another three-and-out and took advantage of good field position after the punt, driving 57 yards in seven plays for another touchdown. Dobbins capped the drive with a 10-yard run for a 16-7 lead.
Martinez hit freshman tight end Austin Allen on a misdirection throwback for a gain of 41 yards to the Ohio State 30-yard line. Nebraska had first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, but a penalty and a backwards pass that Ohio State recovered for a turnover thwarted the scoring threat.
The Blackshirts responded by forcing an Ohio State punt, but the Buckeyes also forced a punt to regain possession. Ohio State then drove into Nebraska territory when sophomore linebacker JoJo Domann came off the edge and sacked Haskins while forcing a fumble. Junior defensive tackle Carlos Davis recovered, stopping the Buckeyes’ scoring threat at the Nebraska 36-yard line.
Nebraska responded by driving 64 yards in 10 plays, with Martinez capping the series with a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle. That pulled the Huskers within 16-14 with 4:52 remaining in the first half.
The Blackshirts struck again early on Ohio State’s ensuing series. Haskins connected with Hill for a 30-yard gain, but senior linebacker Luke Gifford forced the ball loose before Hill hit the turf. Gifford also recovered the fumble at the Ohio State 47-yard line with 4:09 remaining.
Nebraska responded with eight consecutive rushing plays and consumed all but 22 seconds of the remaining time in the first half while also scoring a touchdown. Martinez again finished the series with a 2-yard run, giving the Huskers a 21-16 lead at halftime.
Nebraska returns home Saturday, Nov. 3 to play Illinois. Kickoff time will be announced this weekend.