Nebraska Earns Measure of Redemption Versus Illinois
The parallels were eerie. Nebraska held an 18-point lead at home over an opponent with most of the game remaining on a windy day. That opponent featured an experienced dual-threat quarterback with the ability to score points quickly. Taylor Martinez was dinged up. Three weeks ago (against UCLA), what followed was a collapse on both sides of the ball. This time, the outcome was a 39-19 NU victory.
The offense held up their end of the bargain. They scored with big plays both running and throwing. Ameer Abdullah's 43-yard touchdown run on an option play won't soon be forgotten. Kenny Bell made an electric one-handed 37-yard catch and run for a score that could make Sportscenter's Top 10 Plays of the Week.
Randy Gregory led the charge for a defense that was effective in making plays in key moments. The defense still showed plenty of vulnerability, particularly to the run. In the end, they got enough stops to keep the game out of reach.
Special teams were uneven. Deep kickoffs were an important component for keeping the Illini from mounting scoring drives. But two missed extra points and some poor returns made the game a bit closer than it needed to be, particularly in the second quarter. Imani Cross also had a forgettable day after getting tackled for a safety and coughing up a fumble. He still managed a touchdown run.
Purdue should be light work in NU's first road trip of the season. For now, the Huskers can celebrate an easy homecoming victory over a winning team.