Huskers run away from Bulldogs 55-19
FRESNO, Calif. - Nebraska jumped out to an early lead with some explosive plays that allowed it to coast to a relatively easy 55-19 victory over Fresno State.
Tommy Armstrong found Jordan Westerkamp for a wide-open touchdown on the Huskers' third offensive play, then Ameer Abdullah ripped off a 57-yard scoring run on NU's next drive to help Nebraska grab its first road victory and improve to 3-0 on the season.
It's the fourth time in seven seasons that Nebraska has started 3-0 under Bo Pelini and the first since 2011.
"It was a good win to get on the road," Pelini said. "I was happy with the way our team responded and came out with good energy. I saw some good things and some things we're going to have to clean up, but we'll take it, go to the next one and learn from this tape."
The game didn't begin until around 9:40 Central time and didn't conclude until nearly 1:30. Despite the time difference, the nearly-100 degree temperatures and Fresno State's up-tempo attack, NU didn't wilt.
The Huskers feasted on big plays all night long, registering eight plays of at least 20 yards. That included an 86-yard punt return for a score by true freshman De'Mornay Pierson-El, Nebraska's first since 2012. 14 of Nebraska's 17 drives last less than three minutes.
Fresno State was never able to create much of anything offensively - the Bulldogs gained just 346 yards to Nebraska's 562. The Huskers averaged 8.5 yards per play and had four scoring plays of at least 50 yards, the most in the Pelini era.
Nebraska also had a couple of head-scratching moments, including a safety in which David Santos batted the ball out of the end zone on a punt ,and a bobbled kickoff by Pierson-El that resulted in him stepping out on NU's two-yard line. But the Huskers put the game away with a four-play drive following that blunder, capped off by a 62-yard touchdown rush by Imani Cross.
Abdullah was quiet after his big touchdown run, but he still managed to top the 100-yard barrier for the 19th time in his career. Abdullah finished with 110 yards on the ground to pass Rex Burkhead on NU's all-time rushing list. The senior is now in fourth place with 3,373 yards.
Armstrong wasn't perfect, but he turned in another strong performance. The sophomore completed 12 of his 21 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns and added another 65 yards on the ground. Armstrong became the first Husker to top 300 yards of total offense in three straight games since Joe Ganz did in 2008.
"Trust me, there were a lot of mistakes out there," Pelini said. "There's a lot of things we need to do to get better. Like I said, I thought it was a good effort. We'll learn from it and go on to the next one. We need to keep getting better. You just look across the country, what happened to us last week happens a lot. We won the football game. We're 3-0, and now our next goal is to become 4-0. That's all that matters."