GAME RECAP: CLICK HERE
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, who rushed for 208 yards on 22 carries, scoring three times.
THE MOMENT IT WAS OVER: Late second quarter when Nebraska sophomore safety Nate Gerry intercepted a Reilly O’Toole pass and returned it 54 yards to the Illinois 5-yard line.
WHAT A NEBRASKA WIN MEANS: The Huskers got their Big Ten season off on the right foot and head into Michigan State with an undefeated record.
LINCOLN, Neb. - This can be said about Nebraska - the offense and defense sure compliment one another. It was a tale of two halves for both groups on Saturday against Illinois.
“I didn't like the way we started defensively. I liked the way we started offensively. We've got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot early on in the games defensively,” said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. “I didn't like the way we finished offensively. Any time you turn the football over, which we did a couple times tonight, that's going to kill you down the road.”
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong once again had a great game with his feet in the Huskers win, but struggled through the air – going 10-of-21 for 166 yards, a touchdown and an interception (could have easily been two more).
“I think he's made some really good decisions. Obviously the pick wasn't. He threw late,” said Pelini. “The old saying is if you throw over the middle, it's a recipe for disaster. Let's face it. Tommy is still a young guy. But he's been really effective, and for the most part has made pretty good decisions. He's been operating on offense with pretty good efficiency."
Armstrong might need one of the better games of his career next Saturday to beat Michigan State. Committing no turnovers while moving the chains would get that done. Big Red Report will start previewing the primetime affair as early as Sunday - stay with us.
* At most schools, when a defensive end racks up 2.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries in a game, it's the lead storyline. At Nebraska, that's just another day for Randy Gregory.
* I was really glad to see Imani Cross get a career high in carries with 22. I predicted with the Illinois Scout.com site that Cross and Newby would be heavily involved in this game. Cross went over the 100 yard mark and I asked him if he was gassed at all? "No I wasn't gassed at all. I think the weather had a lot to do with it. But the conditioning level was up."
* Quarterback Tommy Armstrong is now 12-1 as Nebraska’s starter and has a 41-4 record since his junior year of high school. He didn’t have the greatest day throwing the football, but once again was a threat with his legs.
* Abdullah and cornerback Josh Mitchell will be "fine" according to Pelini. Both players were banged up at the end of the game.
* Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell now is No. 3 all-time on the Nebraska career receiving touchdown list after his 17th career TD catch on Saturday night.
* De’Mornay Pierson-El is an obvious threat as a punt returner, but the true freshman is going to have to pick his spots and not force the issue. One of these days, his questionable returns is going to a be a turnover in a big spot.
* Nebraska safety Nathan Gerry did a great job playing center field on Saturday night, including his INT that he returned 54 yards. "I was a little upset I didn't score, but I had no gas left in the chamber. I went and found a trashcan, that was the first thing. Yeah, I wish I would have scored," said Gerry.
* The Huskers hosted five official visitors on Saturday night, but it was the 2016 class making noise. Four-star offensive lineman Bryan Brokop and John Raridon both committed to the program. Both guys are Scout.com top 150 players.
*** I reserve the right to change my Nebraska-MSU prediction after I do some in-depth research, see how both teams practice, and hear from players/coaches.