STILLWATER — It was an afternoon Oklahoma State's defense would like to forget.
After coming through with big plays in key situations this season, OSU's defense surrendered more big plays than it made in a 51-41 loss to Nebraska at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday.
Time and time again, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez used his exceptional acceleration and speed to create big plays and key conversions for the Huskers.
One play reveals the overall picture of the Cowboys' defenses struggles: With OSU trailing 44-34 midway through the fourth quarter, Pokes linebacker Orie Lemon — one of the team's surest tacklers — came untouched on a blitz on third down. The elusive Martinez slipped Lemon's tackle then found Kyler Reed for 17 yards and a first down. Six plays later, Martinez found Brandon Kinnie for an eight-yard touchdown which essentially put the game away giving Nebraska a 51-34 lead with just under five minutes remaining.
It was a common theme for the Pokes' defense: In position to make a play on Martinez, but unable to finish the deal.
"You have to do a better job tackling," OSU coach Mike Gundy said. "When you're playing a quarterback like that, instead of trying to take a shot at him, you have to just get him down."
Said defensive end Richetti Jones: "He's a master of the art of escape. We had him numerous times and he escaped us numerous times, I think he's one of the best in the country."
In situations where OSU's defense has excelled this season, they struggled against the Huskers. Whether it was Martinez's 26-yard run on third-and-six in the second quarter or Niles Paul's 20 yard reception on third-and-11 in the third quarter or Martinez's 21-yard run on first-and-20 late in the third quarter.