Martinez leads Cornhuskers past turnover-prone Illini 54-35
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Adrian Martinez threw for 290 yards and accounted for four touchdowns and Devine Ozigbo ran for 162 yards and three scores to lead Nebraska past mistake-prone Illinois 54-35 on Saturday.
Illinois (4-6, 2-5 Big Ten) committed turnovers on four of five full possessions spanning the halves, and Nebraska (3-7, 2-5) converted them into 24 points.
Wearing alternate uniforms to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the Huskers rolled up 606 total yards on a raw afternoon when the wind chill dipped to 13 degrees. Illinois amassed 509 yards in the meeting of the Big Ten’s worst defenses.
Martinez was 24 of 34 and threw for three touchdowns, and he ran 13 times for 55 yards a TD.
Ozigbo broke a career-long 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and went 60 yards for another TD in the fourth to finish off the Illini. His 162 yards leaves him 42 short of becoming the Huskers’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2014.
Stanley Morgan Jr. caught eight passes for 131 yards and two TDs and moved to No. 2 on the school’s all-time receiving list behind Kenny Bell.
Illinois quarterback AJ Bush, playing against the school where he spent the first two years of his college career, ran 24 times for 172 yards and three touchdowns, both career highs. He was 10 of 25 for 126 yards and threw two interceptions.
The Illini’s Reggie Corbin, who ran for a career-high 213 yards last week against Minnesota, left with an injury in the middle of the second quarter. He ran nine times for 59 yards and caught one pass for 34 yards before getting hurt. He favored his right leg as he was helped off.
The Huskers converted two muffed punts by Jordan Holmes and a fumble by Bush into 17 points and led 38-21 at half.
Bush moved the Illini into Nebraska territory on the opening series of the second half but was intercepted when his pass went through Dominic Stampley’s hands into safety Aaron Williams’. The Huskers then embarked on a 17-play, 82-yard drive that chewed nearly 8 minutes off the clock, with Ozigbo scoring his second touchdown for a 24-point lead.
Holmes’ struggles were only part of Illinois’ abysmal day on special teams. Marquel Dismuke broke through to block Blake Hayes’ punt out the back of the end zone early in the fourth quarter for a safety.
Illinois: The Illini came into the game with the belief they were an improving team. But five turnovers can’t be overcome when the defense has no answer for an offense that’s rolling like Nebraska’s. It was the second straight week they’ve had three or more turnovers and third time in four games.
Nebraska: The Huskers’ offense is operating as well as any in the Big Ten since the start of October. They’ve scored at least 30 points in five straight games, including four straight in conference play for the first time since 2001, and have gone over 450 yards of total offense in seven straight games for the first time in program history. They’re averaging 537.9 yards over those seven games.
Illinois hosts Iowa on Nov. 17.
Nebraska hosts Michigan State on Nov. 17.
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