After trailing by two touchdowns late in the third quarter, Nebraska rallied for a 42-38 victory over Illinois in their Big Ten opener Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois.
The Huskers snapped an eight-game losing streak on the road and became the fifth team in Football Bowl Subdivision annals to reach the 900-win mark.
Nebraska (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) took its first lead on freshman wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson’s 1-yard run with 8:00 to play — his third touchdown of the night. Nebraska finished with 690 total yards — 391 more than Illinois — as sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez completed 22 of 34 passes for 327 yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing for 118 yards.
Robinson accounted for 168 yards — 89 rushing and 79 receiving — while junior wideout JD Spielman caught 7 passes for 159 yards and junior running back Dedrick Mills rushed for 62 yards and two scores.
Senior running back Reggie Corbin raced for 134 yards and 1 touchdown while senior running back Dre Brown added 59 yards and another score for Illinois (2-2, 0-1), which led most of the way by forcing four Nebraska turnovers that turned into 21 points.
When graduate transfer quarterback Brandon Peters scored on a 10-yard keeper with 5:40 left in the third — the third time Illinois transformed a fumble into a touchdown — Illinois owned a 35-21 lead.
Nebraska rolled up 21 points on its final four possessions to seize control against a tired Illinois defense. The Huskers ran 98 plays and owned the ball for more than 37 minutes.
On the game’s second play from scrimmage, Corbin bolted around his right tackle and only needed to break one tackle on his way to a 66-yard touchdown run.
Nebraska drove into Illinois territory on its first two possessions, but turned it over twice — once on downs and the other on a fumble when Martinez couldn’t connect on a handoff.
Illinois junior linebacker Jake Hansen recovered the fumble, then the Illini whisked down the field to take a 14-0 lead. With graduate transfer wideout Josh Imatorbhebhe facing single coverage, Peters found him on a fly pattern down the left sideline for a 26-yard touchdown at the 8:12 mark of the first quarter.
—Field Level Media