LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Taylor Martinez ran for a touchdown and passed for two others while bringing No. 14 Nebraska back from a 21-point second-half deficit, and the Cornhuskers defeated Ohio State 34-27 Saturday night in the biggest comeback in school history.
Rex Burkhead scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 17-yard run with 5:10 left.
Ohio State (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) built a 27-6 lead behind freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller sprained his right ankle in the third quarter and did not return. The Buckeyes’ offense went dormant with backup Joe Bauserman.
Miller ran for 91 yards and completed 5 of 8 passes for 95 yards before he got hurt. Bauserman completed only 1 of 10 passes the rest of the way.
Huskers star linebacker Lavonte David stripped the ball from Miller in the middle of third quarter to start the rally. Soo after Martinez went 18 yards for a touchdown. He threw a 36-yard TD pass to Quincy Enunwa to pull the Huskers to 27-20, and he tied it with a 30-yard catch-and-run to Burkhead.
Martinez ran for 102 yards and 16 of 22 for 191 yards for Nebraska (5-1, 1-1). Burkhead ran 26 times for 119 yards.
Carlos Hyde led the Buckeyes with 104 yards rushing.
The biggest deficit Nebraska had overcome previously was 17 points, most recently against Texas A&M in 2002.
Martinez’s performance was timely.
He lashed out Monday at fans and media who ripped him for throwing three interceptions against Wisconsin last week, and teammates lined up to defend him.
When he threw an interception late in the second quarter, boos cut through the rain at Memorial Stadium.
Those same fans were cheering him wildly by the end of the night.
After time ran out, Martinez flipped the ball to the referee and fullback Tyler Legate embraced Martinez and then picked him up and carried him around.
For Ohio State, the loss marked a painful end to yet another painful week. On Friday the NCAA suspended wide receiver DeVier Posey for five more games and three other Buckeyes for one game for taking too much money for a summer job.
Offensive lineman Marcus Hall, defensive lineman Melvin Fellows and last year’s leading rusher, Daniel Herron, also missed Saturday’s game. They also must repay benefits after receiving pay for summer work not performed for a booster.
An upset looked to be brewing in the first half, and the Buckeyes’ momentum continued to roll when Hyde scored from a yard to give Ohio State a 27-6 lead early in the third quarter.
David, who made 13 tackles, changed the game with his biggest play of the night. As Miller fought for yards up the middle, he stuck his arms in and pulled the ball away from the quarterback.
Martinez scored two plays later, going untouched up the middle on a zone read to pull the Huskers to 27-13.
The Buckeyes did a good job containing Martinez in the first half, but the sophomore broke loose for 93 yards on the ground after halftime.
Martinez’s passing had been skewered after the Wisconsin game, but he threw a perfect strike to Enunwa to pull the Huskers within a touchdown. Martinez freelanced in the backfield before dumping of to Burkhead. who dodged a tackler and went 30 yards for the tying touchdown with 7:35 left.
The Buckeyes’ C.J. Barnett was called for a facemask on Martinez during the Huskers’ winning drive, and Burkhead ran for 22 yards before he broke free for the 17-yard go-ahead score.
Miller ran for 91 yards and completed 5 of 8 passes for 95 yards before he got hurt.
Bauserman completed only 1 of 10 passes the rest of the way.