With 3:29 remaining in the fourth quarter and Nebraska leading Colorado 28-27, the Huskers were at midfield and driving toward the end zone when freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez took the ball and sprinted on a designed run to the right. Martinez hadn’t been perfect in his first-ever start, but with one score through the air and another two on the ground, he had his offense in position to protect and boost its slim lead.
As Martinez made his cut upfield, his own lineman threw a Buffalo defender into his path. That’s when he got his knee rolled up—or, if you go by what the Huskers are saying and what the video shows, he got his knee rolled up, twisted, and yanked by Colorado linebacker Jacob Callier.
The play knocked Martinez out of the game and thrust back-up Andrew Bunch into the action, which lead to a quick punt three plays later. Colorado scored on the ensuing series, taking the lead and forcing Bunch to play the hero. On what would be the last series of the game, Bunch took the Huskers from their own 36-yard line down to the Colorado 20-yard line with just seven seconds to spare. On the final play of the game, pressure forced the right-handed Bunch to sprint to his left and heave a ball that cleared the back of the end zone by at least five yards.
In the aftermath of the season-opening loss, Nebraska has been openly pissed off about the injury to their rookie quarterback. First-year head coach Scott Frost immediately submitted the play for review to the Big Ten and Pac-12 offices on Monday, according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. In coach-speak, Frost told reporters he knows what he saw and that regardless of intention, the twisting on Callier’s part was too far.
“You never want to think someone on the football field would try to intentionally hurt someone,” Frost said.
However, he added, “We have an angle that doesn’t look very good. I don’t know what the intentions were, but the angle out there that I’ve seen doesn’t look good at all.”
When Colorado was contacted by a Journal-Star reporter, the athletic department spokesperson claimed the Pac-12 had already completed its review and ruled the play to be clean. However, when an AP reporter hit up the Pac-12, the conference said it had made no such decision and that it was still reviewing the play. Meanwhile, Buffaloes head coach Mike McIntyre has been mum on the entire snafu, only acknowledging that Frost submitted the play and saying no suspensions have been handed down.
As Colorado fans have pointed out, the whole game was chippy, and Callier’s hit-and-twist was far from the only rough play to go unflagged, but taking a late hit while standing up and moving forward is a little different than having your dang knee turned into a Bop-It while two lineman sit on your face. Lucky for Martinez and the Huskers, 24/7 reported Monday that there was no ligament damage and that he might even be ready to go for this upcoming Saturday’s game against Troy.
It should probably go without saying, but to all the Power Five college football players who apparently think they’re still in high school: Everything you do on the field is on-camera; don’t try to pull bullshit like this!