LINCOLN, Neb. — 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.
Nebraska Postgame Notes:
· Nebraska improved to 12-3-1 all-time against Illinois, including 9-1 in Lincoln. The Huskers are 5-1 against Illinois since joining the Big Ten. Nebraska has scored at least 31 points in all four meetings in Lincoln since 2013.
· The Huskers gained 606 yards against Illinois, marking their seventh straight game with at least 450 yards of total offense. The seven-game streak of 450-yard games is the longest streak in school history, bettering six-game stretches in 1972, 1982, 1994 and 1995.
· The 606 total yards mark two straight conference home games with over 600 yards after Nebraska notched 659 total yards against Minnesota at Memorial Stadium Oct. 20.
· Nebraska’s 54 points today marked the Huskers fifth straight game with more than 30 points. It marks the first time Nebraska has scored 30 or more points in five straight games since the first five games of the 2014 season. It also marks the first time Nebraska has scored 30 or more points in four straight conference games since 2001.
· 54 points are the most Nebraska has scored in a conference game since joining the Big Ten Conference. It tops NU’s 53 points against Minnesota earlier this season on Oct. 20.
· Nebraska’s 38 first-half points were its most in the first half of a conference game since also scoring 38 against Kansas State in 2007. Nebraska scored at least 28 points in the first half of each of its past three home games (28 vs. MINN, 38 vs. BCU, 38 vs. Illinois). NU has scored at least 21 points in the first half in four games overall (21 @ OSU).
· Nebraska rushed for 316 yards in the game, marking the third time this season Nebraska has rushed for better than 300 yards (329 vs. Colorado, 383 vs. Minnesota). Nebraska has topped 200 rushing yards six times in 2018.
· Nebraska opened the game with a 3-play, 75-yard drive that took 1:02 to take a 7-0 lead. It marked the sixth straight time NU has received the opening kickoff that it drove for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. NU also scored a TD to open a 7-0 advantage against Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, Bethune-Cookman and Ohio State. Five of the drives covered 75 yards and all six have been at least 65 yards.
· Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez rolled up 345 yards of total offense, including 55 rushing yards and 290 passing yards. The 345-yard effort gives Martinez six 300-yard total offense games this season, tying a Nebraska season record. Martinez has tied the mark previously set by Joe Ganz in 2008 and Tommy Armstrong Jr. in 2015.
· Martinez increased his season total offensive yardage to 2,747 to establish a Nebraska freshman season record, surpassing the previous record of 2,596 yards by Taylor Martinez in 2010. Adrian Martinez also moved into ninth place on the season total offense list for all players.
· Martinez’s 55 rushing yards gives him 535 on the season. He is the eighth freshman and second freshman quarterback to rush for 500 yards in a season. He is the first Husker true freshman to rush for 500 yards in a season since I-back David Horne had 651 rushing yards in 2002. Martinez’s 535 rushing yards this season are the fifth-most by a true freshman, trailing only Ahman Green (1,086, 1995), DeAngelo Evans (776, 1996) and Horne (651, 2002) and Monte Anthony (587, 1974).
· Martinez increased his season passing total to 2,212, ranking eighth on Nebraska’s season passing list.
· Senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. caught eight passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, for his seventh career 100-yard receiving game and second of 2018. Morgan had a 37-yard touchdown to open the scoring and a 32-yard touchdown later in the first quarter. On the 37-yard touchdown catch, Morgan jumped from fifth to second on the career receiving yardage list, passing Jordan Westerkamp (2,474), Nate Swift (2,476) and Johnny Rodgers (2,479). Morgan now has 2,599 career receiving yards and is 90 yards from Kenny Bell’s school record of 2,689 receiving yards. He has 856 receiving yards this season to rank seventh on the NU single-season chart, 130 yards shy of his own school record of 986 yards last season.
· Morgan increased his career reception total to 178 moving him within three catches of Kenny Bell’s career record of 181 receptions. Morgan increased his season receptions total to 59 (sixth place) moving him into the top 10 on the single-season receptions list. He and teammate JD Spielman are the only Huskers with two of the top 10 single-season receptions totals in NU history.
· Morgan now has 22 career touchdown receptions to tie Nate Swift for second on the Nebraska career list, three shy of Rodgers’ school record of 25 career touchdown catches. Morgan has had two touchdown receptions in each of Nebraska’s past three home games.
· Running back Devine Ozigbo rushed 11 times for 162 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, including a career-long 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He also had a four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and a 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The 66-yard run bettered a 59-yard touchdown run against Minnesota earlier this season.
· Ozigbo’s 162-yard effort marked his fifth 100-yard rushing game in the past seven weeks. His 162 yards increased his career rushing total to 2,072 and made him the 30th, 2,000-yard career rusher in school history. Ozigbo also increased his season rushing yardage total to 958.
· Wide receiver JD Spielman caught seven passes for 71 yards, increasing his season receptions total to 66, moving him to second on the NU season receptions list. He is nine catches from Marlon Lucky’s season record of 75 receptions, set in 2007.
· Spielman also increased his season yardage total to 818 yards to move into the top 10 on the single-season receiving yardage list.
· Nebraska’s 17-play third-quarter scoring drive consumed 7:48. It was Nebraska’s longest scoring drive of the season in terms of plays and time.
· Nebraska had a season-high five takeaways resulting in 24 points. The five takeaways were Nebraska’s most since forcing six Wyoming turnovers in the second game of the 2016 season.
· The Huskers won the turnover battle for the third straight game, marking the first time it has had a positive turnover margin in three straight games since the final game of 2015 and the first two games of 2016. Today’s game marked the third straight game Nebraska has had three takeaways, marking the first time NU has had three takeaways in three straight games since 2014 (Miami, Illinois, Michigan State).
· Nebraska has forced 11 fumbles in the past two games (4 vs. Ohio State, 7 vs. Illinois). Nebraska had forced three fumbles in the first eight games of the season.
· Safety Tre Neal forced two fumbles in the first half. He is the first player to force two fumbles in a game since Corey Cooper had two forced fumbles at Wisconsin in 2014. Neal matched his Nebraska career high with 10 tackles, matching his 10 tackles against Minnesota.
· Defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter. It’s the second interception by an interior defensive lineman this season, joining Peyton Newell (Bethune-Cookman).
· Safety Marquel Dismuke blocked a fourth-quarter Illinois punt that resulted in a safety. The blocked punt was Nebraska’s first since Andy Janovich blocked a punt against Northwestern on Oct. 24, 2015.
· Linebacker Mohamed Barry had a game-high 11 tackles, marking his sixth double-figure tackle game of the season. He is the first Nebraska player with six double-figure tackle games since Will Compton also had six in 2012.