Recap: Nebraska vs. Rutgers
Lincoln, NE (SportsNetwork.com) - Ameer Abdullah ran for three touchdowns in a record-setting performance, leading 16th-ranked Nebraska to a 42-24 victory over Rutgers on Saturday.
Abdullah rushed for 225 yards on just 19 carries, caught two passes for 26 yards and added 90 yards on a pair of kickoff returns to finish with 341 all- purpose yards. He set a Nebraska single-game mark, eclipsing Roy Helu's previous record of 321 in 2010.
"We've just got to keep our heads down," Abdullah said. "All that stuff is good. You can't get caught up in that though right now because that's not what is important. What is important is tomorrow and making sure we handle this win the right way."
Tommy Armstrong threw for a pair of scores and added another touchdown on the ground for the Cornhuskers (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten), who have won two straight after a tough five-point loss at Michigan State.
Rutgers (5-3, 1-3) suffered its second straight blowout loss on the heels of its first-ever conference win over Michigan. The Scarlet Knights dropped a 56-17 decision at Ohio State last week and will face another stiff test next Saturday with a visit from Wisconsin.
"They have a good football team," said Rutgers coach Kyle Flood. "We knew that coming in, but coming into a game like this we had little room for error. A lot of corrections for us to make, and a lot of football to be played this year."
Quarterback Gary Nova missed the second half for Rutgers after injuring his right knee on a hit from Nebraska's Maliek Collins late in the second quarter. He threw for 156 yards with a touchdown and an interception before exiting the contest.
The only meaningful offense for the Scarlet Knights came on two big plays. The first was a 71-yard touchdown pass from Nova to Leonte Caroo on a broken play late in the first quarter, and the second was backup quarterback Chris Laviano's 46-yard run early in the third that led to a 41-yard Kyle Federico field goal.
After the Nova TD pass with 10 seconds left in the opening period, Abdullah broke free twice for long scoring runs in the second quarter.
Abdullah made Rutgers defensive back Lorenzo Waters miss at the line of scrimmage and found a big hole from there, rumbling 53 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead. Two plays after a Rutgers punt, Abdullah found an opening on the left side and raced 48 yards to the end zone.
Armstrong was intercepted on Nebraska's next offensive series and the only other scoring threat in the half came with less then three minutes remaining when Federico had a 50-yard field goal attempt blocked.
Nebraska extended its lead less than three minutes into the third quarter when Armstrong found Sam Cotton with an 8-yard touchdown pass. Abdullah ignited the 72-yard set with a 49-yard run on the first play after the kickoff.
Laviano's big run then set up the Federico field goal that pulled Rutgers within 28-10, but a 76-yard kickoff return by Abdullah gave Nebraska a short field and Armstrong finished the five-play series with a 4-yard scoring strike to Jordan Westerkamp.
An Armstrong fumble deep in Nebraska territory allowed Rutgers to move 21 yards in four plays for another touchdown, as Desmon Peoples scored on a 3- yard run.
However, a 23-yard touchdown run by Abdullah midway through the fourth gave the Huskers a 42-17 cushion and the Scarlet Knights added a score on Robert Martin's 4-yard run just under three minutes later for the final margin.
Abdullah posted his fourth 200-yard rushing game of the season, matching Mike Rozier's school record from his Heisman Trophy season of 1983. It was only his third-highest total of the year, however, as he posted 232 yards against Florida Atlantic and 229 against Miami-Florida.
In addition, Abdullah moved into second place in Big Ten history with 6,604 all-purpose yards, moving past Indiana's Anthony Thompson and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin of Ohio State. Only Wisconsin's Ron Dayne, with 7,429 yards, has more.
Rutgers' first possession ended at the Nebraska 31 when Peoples was stuffed on 4th-and-1, and the Huskers went 69 yards the other way for the game's first touchdown, which Armstrong capped with a 16-yard run.
Nova was picked off a few plays after the ensuing kickoff, but Nebraska failed to convert when Drew Brown missed a 42-yard field goal.Game Notes
Abdullah's 23 career 100-yard games trail only Rozier's school record of 26.
He also now has 37 career rushing touchdowns, surpassing Tommie Frazier for
sole possession of fifth in school history ... Nebraska wide receiver Kenny
Bell had six catches for 63 yards and now has 167 career receptions, eclipsing
Nate Swift's previous school mark of 166 ... Caroo finished with five catches
for 127 yards, posting his fourth 100-yard game of the season and the sixth of
his career ... Nebraska and Rutgers met just once previously, a 28-0 Huskers
win in 1920 at the Polo Grounds in New York ... The Huskers host Purdue next