Nebraska-Ohio State: 3 things we learned, 3 things we still don't know

Ohio State's Jeff Okudah intercepts a Adrian Martinez pass. Martinez finished 8 for 17 for 47 yards and three interceptions.

Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Ohio State.

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Three things we learned

1. The hype was wrong. It was unjustified, it was empty, it was misguided, miscalculated and mistaken. We can talk about strength and conditioning and a culture all the way from Lincoln to Scottsbluff. The coaches can say the program is headed in the right direction, that they’re practicing well and that everything will be great down the road. But right now, what we saw Saturday could’ve happened in 2016, 2017 or, heck, the beginning of 2018. This was Nebraska at Wisconsin in the snow. It was 62-3 in Columbus. It was the blowout at the end of 2017 that emptied the stadium. Different coach, same problems, same program struggling to find a leg to stand on.

2. Something is wrong with Adrian Martinez. Maybe it’s the added weight. Maybe it’s the new playbook. But 2 for 8 for 10 yards and three interceptions in the first half is bad for any quarterback, let alone someone with some of the highest preseason odds in the country to win the Heisman Trophy. Nebraska’s offense was lost and discombobulated. Something is officially up with No. 2.

3. Some fans have more patience than others. The 2017 Ohio State blowout loss at home featured a near-empty stadium by the beginning of the fourth quarter. This crowd — rowdy and wired pregame thanks in part to “College GameDay” — mostly stuck around. Some even held onto balloons until Nebraska’s first score late in the third quarter. Others left before halftime and released balloons after falling behind 24-0. Some will hold out hope for the rest of the season. Others will check out.

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Three things we still don’t know

1. Where have those fullback trap plays been? What about the option? It was the only thing that worked against Ohio State. Why not go to that early? Why not use that before this Ohio State game? Did they just put that in? And if so, why wait until you’re down 14-0 to use it? And then why not go back to it, when nothing else was working? Will we see it again?

2. What’s the reaction to this loss in-house? Under Mike Riley, the answers were simple. The coach needed to go. But the athletic department is solidly behind Scott Frost. They finalized a $155 million football facility in part because Frost wants to build the walk-on program and build a bigger roster with a bigger weight room. There were other factors in the new facility, too, but Frost was the only coach to speak at the unveiling Friday. He’s the long-term answer. And yet, there was another embarrassment on national television. An embarrassment that can’t be blamed on anybody else but the current team and the coaching staff. So what is the reaction? Do tough choices for assistants need to happen? Does the depth chart need to be looked at? The Blackshirts taken away? Practice at a different time? What?

3. So, Ohio State to the College Football Playoff? Do they deserve a bid as the No. 1 team in America next week in the polls? And Nebraska, are they worthy of a Pinstripe Bowl? Or will they be on the couch again watching Bowl Week eating Christmas leftovers?

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Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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