FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw a 70-yard touchdown pass on the fourth play from scrimmage and Ameer Abdullah scored on a 57-yard run on Nebraska's next play to lead the Cornhuskers to a 55-19 victory over Fresno State on Saturday night.
De'Mornay Pierson-El added an 86-yard punt return touchdown and Imani Cross scored on a 62-yard run for the Cornhuskers (3-0), who enjoyed a lopsided win after last week's narrow 31-24 escape against lower-division McNeese State.
That dropped Nebraska from No. 19 in the Associated Press poll to unranked. Since the AP poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989, no team ranked as high had ever dropped out after a win.
Brian Burrell threw a TD pass and scored on a 66-yard run for Fresno State (0-3), which had its 13-game home winning streak snapped and is off to its worst start since also dropping the first three games in 1998.
The crowd was a sea of red as the thousands of Nebraska fans who made the trip West blended right in with the home fans for a "red-out" at Bulldog Stadium. But the Huskers fans made themselves heard from the start with "Go Big Red!" cheers that drowned out the Fresno State supporters at times.
The Nebraska fans also had much more to cheer about with four touchdowns of more than 50 yards. The big-play barrage started on the fourth play from scrimmage when the crowd was in a frenzy with the Huskers facing a third-and-9 from their own 30. The Bulldogs allowed Jordan Westerkamp to streak upfield uncovered from the slot.
After Fresno State punted on its first possession, Abdullah raced for another score to make it 14-0. Abdullah finished with 110 yards on 19 carries.
The highlight of the half for the Bulldogs came on an odd play at the end of their next possession. They lined up to go for it on fourth-and-8, but Burrell dropped back and quick-kicked instead. Nebraska's David Santos inexplicably batted the ball out of the end zone from around the 8-yard line for a safety that gave Fresno State its first points in the opening quarter all season.
But the Huskers still managed to take a 27-5 lead into halftime with help from Pierson-El's 86-yard punt return. That one play surpassed Nebraska's season total for punt return yards a year ago when the Huskers were held to 70.
Armstrong added a pair of TD passes in the second half, a 20-yarder to Cethan Carter and a 23-yarder to Sam Cotton to complete the blowout. Armstrong went 12 for 21 for 260 yards with three TD passes and 65 yards rushing.
Burrell went the entire way for Fresno State after sharing the quarterback duties the first two weeks with Duke transfer Brandon Connette, who was sidelined by a hand injury. Burrell went 30 for 59 for 241 yards.