ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Ohio State Buckeyes decided to play their best half of football and their worst half of football, both on the same night.
Following that bizarre formula, the Buckeyes dominated the first two quarters against Nebraska on Saturday night, and then imploded over the final two periods.
After leading the Cornhuskers by 21 points, Ohio State surrendered four straight touchdowns to Nebraska and left stunned 34-27 losers.
"I've never been a part of anything like that," senior linebacker Andrew Sweat said.
Neither had Nebraska, which has been playing football since 1890, but never put together a comeback of that magnitude, until the Buckeyes came to town.
Ohio State (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) had dominated the first half and the initial sequences of the third quarter. When Carlos Hyde pushed into the end zone from one yard out with about four minutes gone in the second half, it was Ohio State 27, Nebraska 6.
"We felt like we were clicking on all cylinders," said junior tight end Jake Stoneburner, who had a 32-yard touchdown on a screen pass late in the first quarter.
"We were rolling, we were excited. It's hard to believe we actually lost that game."
Midway through the third quarter, Nebraska scored on a short field after recovering a fumble by Ohio State freshman quarterback Braxton Miller at the OSU 24, cutting the lead to 27-13.
On the Buckeyes' next series, Miller injured his right ankle on a running play and left the game for good. Miller had been effective up to that point, with a touchdown pass and 186 total yards.
"He was making our guys miss," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said about Miller. "I thought it helped us, obviously, that Miller went out, because I think their game plan was built around him."
Senior Joe Bauserman, the starter for the first three games of this season, came on in relief of Miller and had no success. Bauserman was 1-of-10 passing, with an interception, a sack, and several well off target throws.
"You can't put that all on Joe," Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said about the huge swing in momentum that consumed the Buckeyes.
"That was a tough spot for him to come into."
Nebraska tacked on three more touchdowns over the next 11 minutes to give the Huskers 28 straight points and the lead with five minutes left in the game.
Trailing for the first time all night, the Buckeyes saw Bauserman get sacked, then throw two incompletions, forcing a punt. The Huskers then bled down the clock with 10 straight running plays.
"I don't think I've seen a game that has changed like that, that I have been involved with," a bewildered Luke Fickell said as the Ohio State coach saw his team drop to 0-2 in the Big Ten.
"I'm sure there are a lot of lessons out there. We have to figure out what they are and grow from them. It's a part of life."
Senior defensive back Tyler Moeller struggled to explain what happened as the Cornhuskers pounded out 306 yards of offense in the second half.
"We were playing great in the first half and all of a sudden, they started getting some plays on us," Moeller said. "It hurts, but that happens. It's football."
With the extent of Miller's ankle injury not yet revealed, and a road trip to unbeaten and No. 16 ranked Illinois up next, the Buckeyes find themselves in very unfamiliar territory.
"I don't know what the magical answer is," Sweat said. "We just didn't get the job done."
Contact Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @MattMarkey.