Every Saturday night during the college football season, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina hands out his weekly Big Ten Game Balls. The series is called “U.S. Marines Corps: Leaders of the Week,” and it’s designed to spotlight the Big Ten’s top individual performances. Who took home the honors from Week 8? Find out in this post.
It’s an overstatement to say this was the most important game of the Bo Pelini era. But it certainly was the biggest of this season.
Taylor Martinez threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns and Nebraska rallied to beat Northwestern 29-28 on Saturday. The Cornhuskers (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) rallied from 12 down in the fourth, taking a one-point lead when Martinez hit Ben Cotton with a 7-yard pass with just over 2 minutes left, and hung on when a 53-yard field goal attempt by Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien barely missed wide right with 1:10 remaining.
Thanks to a mean rushing attack, Northwestern now leads 23-16. The Wildcats rushed for 98 yards in the third quarter. The Wildcats expanded their lead to 21-10 thanks to a four-play, 93-yard drive that ended when Venric Mark ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run.
Nebraska’s Kenny Bell caught a 37-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, but the margin is still four, as Northwestern leads the Huskers, 14-10. Trevor Siemian’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Tony Jones finished off an eight-play, 50-yard drive and gave Northwestern its halftime advantage.