COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — J.K. Dobbins ran for three touchdowns and Dwayne Haskins Jr. passed for two more as No. 8 Ohio State rallied in the second half and held off Nebraska 36-31 Saturday.
After Adrian Martinez threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to JD Spielman to pull the Cornhuskers within five with 3 minutes left, Dobbins pounded away for two first downs to run out the clock.
Before the late Nebraska score, Dobbins broke through the right side and romped for a 42-yard touchdown with 5 minutes left to give Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP) breathing room.
“We had every chance to in the world to win that game,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said.
The Buckeyes’ much-maligned running game and defense finally showed up in the second half.
Dobbins rushed for a season-high 163 yards — only his second 100-yard game this season. Running back Mike Weber added 91 yards on the ground.
Down 21-16 at half after the Huskers (2-7, 1-5) turned two Ohio State fumbles into touchdown drives, the Buckeyes forced five straight punts and held Nebraska to a field goal when a drive stalled at the 1.
“I think our defense improved,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “Obviously, we’re not anywhere near where we need to be.”
After the Nebraska field goal, Dobbins broke off his run between the center and right guard to cap the next series.
Haskins fumbled twice and didn’t look sharp at times but still threw for 231 yards, with a long touchdown pass to Johnnie Dixon and a shovel pass that Parris Campbell turned into a score. He also threw an interception, one of Ohio State’s three turnovers.
Nebraska freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez bested Haskins, who was in the Heisman Trophy conversation a month ago. Martinez threw for 266 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two more.
Nebraska: The Huskers are a different team than the one that started the season 0-6, with a home loss to Troy and 46-point defeat at Michigan. Martinez and running back Devine Ozigbo, who ran 20 times for 86 yards, pushed Ohio State hard.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes survived three turnovers while bouncing back from their 49-20 upset loss at Purdue on Oct. 20.
Nebraska: hosts Illinois on Nov. 10.
Ohio State: visits Michigan State on Nov. 10.