In the end, the stands at Bill Snyder Family Stadium were half-full, and most of those still here were wearing red. The KSU student section, so loud and alive hours earlier, was a ghost town.
In the end, the sounds you heard were the Nebraska band belting out the school fight song and several thousand Husker fans chanting “Go Big Red.'' This was not the ending they wanted here. Not even close.
No, they came here with dreams of pain and plans of revenge. K-State wanted to send Nebraska off to the Big Ten in style, with a reminder that Little Brother would be just fine without Big Brother.
They wanted to inflict some pain on an old foe that, in their minds, was turning its back on the prairie.
They were worked up, in a purple froth, and this last Nebraska vs. Kansas State game was more of a statement for K-State than a game. They brought signs, including one that said it all: “Trea$on.''
This would be their statement that the Wildcats would be OK without the Huskers. But there was no revenge, unless you count the 2003 game in Lincoln when Bo Pelini thought Snyder was scoring a little too much on his backup defense.
In the end, what we saw was a history lesson for those who don't remember life before Snyder got here — and a familiar result for those who do.
Nebraska 48, Kansas State 13. Remember those?
The Huskers slowly and clinically dominated this one. By early in the third quarter, the ESPN national stage had turned from Snyder's last stand to the re-emergence of Nebraska as a power player.
And the introduction of a little thing called T-Magic.
Where did this kid come from? And where he is going? The Taylor Martinez story is the talk of college football now. The redshirt freshman quarterback has been a phenomenon in Lincoln the last several weeks. He opened the eyes that were watching the regional broadcast in Seattle a few weeks ago.
But he took it up a few notches on Thursday night, in front of the college-ball watching nation.
Martinez ran 15 times for 241 yards and four touchdowns for a whopping 16.1 yards per carry. He was an efficient 5-for-7 passing for 128 yards and a touchdown.
But it was how he did it. Martinez doesn't run, he strikes. He turns broken plays into brilliant strokes. His TD runs were 14, 35, 80 and 41 yards. The 80-yard run was on a quarterback draw through a hole the size of Aggieville. If you blinked, you missed it.
Seriously, someone check this kid's family tree. He's got to be related to the Roadrunner.
Beep, beep. Now he's zoomed into the Heisman talk. Premature? Sure. But that's what the national pundits and Heisman watchers do. They jump on the next big thing and ride it. On twitter.com Thursday night, the national college scribes were asking for a duel between Martinez and Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who is high on the Heisman meter these days.
That's for later. The important thing Martinez did last night was answer in the now. Would he do his thing in a hostile league environment on national TV? Or would he be that guy against South Dakota State?
It's still too soon to know how consistent this kid will be this year. Plan for some downs, too. Martinez fumbled early deep in his territory. The ball bounced to Ben Cotton this time. Wasn't K-State's night there.
It wasn't the purple people's night at all, for that matter.
Count this self-styled expert as surprised. I thought K-State would come out with its “A'' game, play over its head and push this thing deep into the fourth. Could the Blackshirts, with hybrid DeJon Gomes playing linebacker, stop tough-running Daniel Thomas?
The answer was yes, they could. And, yes, K-State was overmatched.
As it turned out, it wasn't much of a chess match. Oh sure, Snyder had a couple of tricks up his sleeve early. But he may have outsmarted himself. On a fourth-and-two at the NU 25, Snyder lined his star running back out wide as a receiver, then had the slow-footed quarterback Carson Coffman keep to the right.
This, after a timeout. You don't give a fourth-down call to your horse? Thomas was a decoy. Pelini wasn't fooled.
The next thing anyone knew, Martinez had taken the Huskers 76 yards in eight plays and scored on a 14-yard run after he bobbled the snap.
Pelini's flying ninja defensive backs — and emerging star linebacker Lavonte David — did the job on stuffing Thomas, who had a harmless 63 yards on 22 carries and 36 more on eight catches. Tough night.
So much for Thomas' Heisman bid. The night belonged to Martinez, who ran with authority, held up fine after several big hits (including a personal foul blow to the helmet by a K-State player that looked like Whac-A-Mole) and threw some nice passes. Big confidence night for the Roadrunner.
By the end, with K-State driving for meaningless yards, Thomas was on the bench. Wildcat fans were headed for the exits and Husker fans were given a sentimental last journey into the way this series used to be. That Snyder had to watch it was a nice way for Nebraska fans to end the chapter and turn the page.
They would drive off into the night, to the north and onto the next leg of the Last Word Tour. Next up: Texas. This is getting good.
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• Video: Bo Pelini after the NU-KSU game:
• Video: Taylor Martinez after the NU-KSU game:
• Video: NU-KSU postgame analysis:
• Video: NU-KSU highlight reel: