World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel shares his immediate thoughts following the Huskers' 42-38 victory over Illinois.
1. Whatever you call it, call it a season-saver. At one point Nebraska was down 14 and making crazy mistakes and it looked like there would be no bowl game again this season. In the end, the Huskers walk off with a breathless win and renewed faith in their quarterback and offense and a team-wide toughness. Wow. I don’t drink and I need a drink.
2. Afterward, Adrian Martinez looked like he had a huge weight lifted off his shoulders. Coaches have said the sophomore quarterback was pressing, trying to be perfect. Blame it on the expectations and the perfectionist in Martinez. But he hadn’t been right. Martinez wasn’t perfect in this one, but he was tough and he got his running game going. At some point he looked like he just put his head down and decided to attack with the run game. It was just what he needed. The quarterback finally found his rhythm in this game, and the credit has to go with the plays he made with his legs. This is the guy we expected back in the preseason.
3. Too many turnovers but too many replays, too. Nebraska doesn’t help itself, but the Huskers weren’t catching any breaks on the Zebra Cam. On what looked like very similar plays, Nebraska lost a turnover when Martinez had the ball knocked out of his hands and it was ruled a fumble. And somehow, with all of the refs standing around watching and the ball bouncing around for several seconds before being picked up by Illinois, it was ruled Illinois’ ball. That seemed like a stretch, and incredibly bad luck for NU. Then to have basically the same play go Illinois’ way late in the game, with the fumble to NU overturned. What’s a fumble? What’s a forward pass?
The Huskers didn’t just win a game, they saved their season.
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