An upset of No. 14 Nebraska seemed possible for Ohio State on Saturday, but the Buckeyes found a new way to lose.
One week after nearly being shutout at Ohio Stadium for the first time since 1982, the Buckeyes (3-3, 0-2) coughed-up a 27-6 lead and allowed the Cornhuskers (5-1, 1-1) to creep back into the game and eventually eke out a 34-27 win. Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez and junior running back Rex Burkhead converted a key second-half score to help clinch a win in Nebraska’s first-ever Big Ten home game.
OSU got off to a quick start offensively, scoring on a 41-yard field goal on its opening drive, by sophomore kicker Drew Basil. Nebraska tied the game just minutes later with a 50-yard field goal by junior kick Brett Maher.
OSU’s offense kept coming, and optimism abounded.
Junior tight end Jake Stoneburner scored his first touchdown since Week 2 and his fifth of the season when he collected a pass from Miller near the line of scrimmage and ran 32 yards for a touchdown.
After stopping the Cornhuskers’ offense on fourth-and-2, sophomore running back Carlos Hyde powered through the line of scrimmage and ran 63 yards to put OSU up, 17-3.
Senior left tackle Mike Adams made his return from a five game suspension for selling team memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Adams’ impact was felt early as he and the OSU offensive line allowed the Buckeyes to rush for 145 yards on its first four drives.
Maher added a 34-yard field goal with 2:44 remaining in the first half for Nebraska, but the Buckeyes had one score left in them before half.
OSU added a 35-yard field goal by Basil as time expired to restore the 14-point deficit as the Buckeyes took a 20-6 lead into half.
Senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, who was suspended for the first five games of the season along with Adams, Daniel “Boom” Herron and Solomon Thomas, was suspended for an additional five games after for being overcompensated during his summer employment.
The athletic department announced the NCAA’s ruling on Posey’s additional suspension, which athletic director Gene Smith said was “harsh,” on Friday.
Despite Posey’s absence, Miller wasn’t hurting for receiving targets against Nebraska.
Hyde scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, but it was sophomore wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown’s diving catch that brought the Buckeyes inside the Cornhuskers’ 10-yard line.
The touchdown upped OSU’s lead to 27-6 and the “Buckeye Bounce” chant could be heard throughout the stadium, but only for a short time.
A Miller fumble deep in OSU territory resulted in an 18-yard touchdown run by Martinez that cut the Cornhuskers’ deficit to 27-13 with 7:23 remaining in the third quarter.
Suddenly, the 85,426 fans in Memorial Stadium came alive.
To that point in the game, the fumble was the lone blemish on Miller’s stat line. The freshman had completed 5-of-8 passes for 95 yards, a touchdown and 91 rushing yards. Miller limped off the field late in the third quarter after a rush attempt.
Redshirt senior quarterback Joe Bauserman, who started the first three games of the year for OSU, went under center for the Buckeyes and skied his first pass of the game out of bounds on a third down play.
On Nebraska’s next drive, Martinez connected with sophomore receiver Quincy Enunwa on a 34-yard touchdown pass to slice OSU’s lead to seven points at 27-20.
Bauserman struggled after that, going 1-of-7 on OSU’s next two drives.
On the defensive side, OSU held the Cornhuskers to 117 total yards of offense in the first half, but with the comeback nearly complete, the Nebraska offense wouldn’t be denied in the second half.
Junior running back Rex Burkhead drew the team level with a 30-yard touchdown reception with 7:35 remaining in regulation.
A Bauserman pass on second down was intercepted by Nebraska, which quickly moved down the field for the winning score. Burkhead ran 17 yards to cap the comeback and sink any hope of an upset by OSU.
OSU (3-3, 0-2) continues Big Ten play next week with its first Leaders Division game, which will kick off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Illinois’ Memorial Stadium.