COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nebraska assistant Barney Cotton and his offensive linemen acknowledged that it was loud, and admitted that Ohio State was pretty good up front Saturday night.
But those weren't excuses that the Huskers used for some of their penalty problems after the 63-38 loss.
“We weren't disciplined enough,” NU tackle Andrew Rodriguez said. “We weren't focused enough.”
Nine penalties and four turnovers helped speed up the Huskers' demise in front of 106,102 — the largest crowd ever to see a game at Ohio Stadium.
The offensive penalties included four false-start infractions on the Nebraska line, including three on the same second-quarter possession that somehow still resulted in a touchdown. The offense also was flagged for a block in the back and delay of game before halftime, putting NU in situations such as third-and-30, first-and-15 and first-and-20.
The mistakes helped crank up the volume, but if that became a factor, Cotton said: “It shouldn't have been.”
“We haven't done that all year,” he said. “There's no excuse for that. Noise, no noise … it doesn't make a difference. We're a silent snap count every time we're in the shotgun anyway, so it shouldn't make a difference.”
NU guard Spencer Long said the Huskers used the same silent count Saturday night that they have for all recent road games. It's up to the linemen, Long said, to watch for when the ball is snapped by center Justin Jackson when they can't hear anything.
“We're disappointed in our false-start penalties,” Long said. “We just got to have more composure.”
If Nebraska had it Saturday night, it lost it. Same goes for momentum that came and went in a game that the Huskers led 17-7 and 24-21 in the first half.
Ohio State turned Taylor Martinez's two first-half interceptions into 14 points. The “story of the season,” as NU offensive coordinator Tim Beck called it later, as the Huskers slipped to minus-6 in turnover ratio for the season (15 lost, nine gained).
While some of the mistakes were reminiscent of past road meltdowns, Rodriguez wasn't going to let the Buckeyes' home crowd take credit for them.
“If you're focused enough, you can play anywhere,” Rodriguez said. “We played in louder stadiums than this.”
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|Check out the Social Gridiron to see which team's fans made a bigger dent on Twitter during Saturday's Nebraska-Ohio State game.|
And while the Ohio State defensive front was a handful, Long said, NU made it even better by putting itself in some of those unfavorable down-and-distance scenarios.
“When it's third-and-20, they're going to know that we probably have to pass the ball,” Long said.
Nebraska ranks 10th in the Big Ten in penalties at the season's midway point, committing 37 through six games for an average of 62.2 yards per game. Until Saturday night, the NU offensive line was on the hook for a limited number of those, showing some improvements from its past problems.
Then some of the flags started flying again.
“We haven't done it in training camp and we haven't done it this year, and for it to raise its head here in the first half …,” Cotton said. “In the second half we didn't do it. It was loud in the second half just like it was in the first half. So I don't know what to say other than that.”
The 38 points — marking the Huskers' sixth straight 30-point game to start the season — lost some meaning when NU thought back to how many it helped Ohio State score. Cotton said it all could have been different if Nebraska had just punted instead on the three series where it lost the football in its own territory.
But it all finally snowballed after Nebraska pulled within 35-31 with a seven-play, 77-yard scoring drive to start the second half.
“We weren't playing our type of football, especially in the second half,” Rodriguez said. “We didn't come out and play hard enough and match what they were doing.”
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