In what was supposed to be a defining game for Nebraska, the Huskers failed to be competitive against No. 6 Ohio State and were blown out 62-3, the second-largest margin of defeat in program history.
Even before senior QB Tommy Armstrong’s horrific injury that took him out of the game, Ohio State dominated Nebraska in every facet.
Here are five things we learned about the Huskers on Saturday.
- Nebraska isn’t as good as once thought.
It’s clear the quips, the jokes, the overall scoffing at Nebraska’s 7-0 start were justified.
With the 62-3 loss, Nebraska showed it still has a long way to go to get to the caliber of Ohio State. Or Wisconsin. Or any high-ranking team in the country.
After Armstrong’s first throw of the day turned into a pick-six, Nebraska struggled to be competitive.
It was out-gained 590 to 204. Ohio State had 34 first downs compared to Nebraska’s nine. The Buckeyes averaged 6.9 yards per play, Nebraska 3.6.
Nebraska didn’t look like the No. 10 team in the country. It hardly looked like the No. 10 team in the Big Ten.
- Nebraska still can’t win the big game.
Bo Pelini was fired for not being able to win the big games. Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst said that specifically in the press conference announcing Pelini’s release.
In coach Mike Riley’s first two meaningful games, at Wisconsin and at Ohio State, he is 0-2.
Nebraska was close last week in an overtime loss at Wisconsin, but the next step, at Ohio State, was too much for Nebraska.
Years after the illustrious Tom Osborne and Frank Solich years, Nebraska continues to look for a program-defining win that will change the narrative.
- Nebraska’s defense isn’t what we thought.
Ohio State did whatever it wanted on offense Saturday.
The Buckeyes did not punt all night. They scored on every possession. QB J.T. Barrett was never pressured. Nebraska’s tackling was atrocious. Two Ohio State running backs averaged more than 7 yards per carry.
Not one positive thing came out of the Blackshirts on Saturday.
The game was over at halftime, and it wasn’t because Armstrong got injured. It was because Nebraska’s defense was non-existent.
- Tommy Armstrong is a warrior.
We’ve known it for a while. But watching Armstrong run back onto the field after being knocked unconscious earlier in the game solidified Armstrong’s legend as the leader who won’t quit.
- Nebraska likely won’t make it to Indianapolis.
With its win over Northwestern and Nebraska’s loss, Wisconsin now takes control of the Big Ten West. Nebraska will have to win out, and Wisconsin will have to lose again, which isn’t likely.
The Badgers have Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota left on their schedule. Nebraska’s best bet is for Minnesota to upset Wisconsin the same weekend Nebraska plays Iowa.
But the way Wisconsin has been playing, it doesn’t seem likely it’ll lose. And if Nebraska plays like it did on Saturday, it won’t win out.
Ohio State was 7 of 8 on third downs in the first half, which led to 31 first-half points.
The Buckeyes ended up 11 of 15 for the game on third downs.
Ohio State did not punt all evening. That’s domination.
We learned a team can go an entire 60 minutes and not have one thread of a silver lining.
What does Nebraska do at quarterback?
It’s not known if Armstrong will be good to go next week.
Which means Ryker Fyfe is the assumed starter. Fyfe was 5-of-18 passing for 52 yards on Saturday.
Behind Fyfe is freshman Patrick O’Brien, who is on pace to redshirt this year.
The question becomes: does Nebraska go with Fyfe, or does it let O’Brien have a shot as the starter?
It seems silly to burn a redshirt this far into the season, but Fyfe didn’t play particularly well on Saturday. Could O’Brien salvage a win against 7-2 Minnesota? Or start the rest of the year, if Armstrong is out for the season?
And if Nebraska doesn’t want to trot out O’Brien and burn his redshirt, what happens if Fyfe gets hurt? Who plays quarterback? Zack Darlington?
What it means
Nebraska re-applied paint to the reputation that it can’t win big games, can’t win in prime time, and can’t get over the hump.
Nebraska is 7-2 and doesn’t have much of a chance of making it to Indy.
This loss means Nebraska isn’t better now than it was a year ago. It’s not a program ready to compete for national titles or a conference championship. It’s still a program trying to figure out how to get over the hump.