Lincoln - Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Ron Kellogg III led Nebraska in place of injured starting quarterback Taylor Martinez, and the Husker offense produced the biggest total offense day under Bo Pelini in a 59-20 victory over South Dakota State.
The Huskers finished non-conference play with a 3-1 record, while the FCS No. 6 Jackrabbits slipped to 3-1 on the year.
Armstrong Jr., a redshirt freshman from Cibolo, Texas, earned the first start of his career and helped the Huskers amass 645 yards of total offense with the first 300-yard rushing/300-yard passing day as a team in school history. Armstrong Jr. completed 12-of-15 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown pass.
Kellogg III, a senior from Omaha, Neb., was equally productive, completing 8-of-9 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown strike of his own.
Armstrong Jr. and Kellogg III engineered scoring drives on eight of their 10 offensive possessions. The Huskers did not punt until Ryker Fyfe's opening possession as quarterback with just over six minutes left.
NU finished with 310 passing yards and 335 rushing yards, led by junior I-back Ameer Abdullah's 139 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Sophomore I-back Imani Cross added 60 yards and two scores on just 10 carries, while freshman Terrell Newby contributed 52 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Armstrong Jr. pitched in 38 yards on five totes.
Senior Quincy Enunwa led the Husker receivers with six catches for 78 yards. Abdullah contributed three receptions for 46 yards, while Tyler Wullenwaber added a pair of receptions for 47 yards, including his first career touchdown.
While the offense was firing on all cylinders, the defense also made some significant contributions. The Blackshirts forced a trio of Jackrabbit turnovers, including defensive end Randy Gregory's first career interception and touchdown, which came after a 33-yard return early in the fourth quarter. Gregory finished with five tackles, including two for loss and a half sack.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste added his fourth interception of the season and a 15-yard return, giving him an interception in each of NU's first four games of the year. Jonathan Rose added a fourth-quarter fumble recovery for the Huskers, who held a high-powered SDSU offense to just three points in the final three quarters.
Corey Cooper and Zaire Anderson shared the team lead with 10 total tackles apiece.
South Dakota State led 17-14 at the end of the first quarter thanks to the explosive running of Zach Zenner. The junior running back finished with 202 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries on the day. He had over 100 yards and both of his scores in the first quarter to help the Jacks take a lead to the second quarter.
But the Huskers dominated the rest of the way. NU outscored the Jacks 24-0 in the second quarter, capped by Mauro Bondi's 22-yard field as time expired to give NU a 38-17 halftime lead.
The Blackshirts shut out SDSU again in the third quarter, while Newby and Gregory contributed touchdowns to send the Huskers to the final quarter with a 52-17 edge after scoring 38 unanswered points.
South Dakota State did show balance of its own, compiling 465 total yards, including 227 on the ground and 238 through the air. Quarterback Austin Sumner completed 19-of-29 passes for 238 yards, but also threw a pair of interceptions. While Zenner rolled up 202 yards on 21 totes, the rest of the Jacks got just 25 rushing yards on 17 touches.
R.C. Kilgore led the Jackrabbit defense with 15 tackles.
Nebraska will enjoy a week off before completing their five-game season-opening home stand by opening Big Ten Conference play with Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 11 a.m. Nebraska will celebrate Homecoming in its first meeting with the Fighting Illini as Big Ten counterparts.
Final: Nebraska 59, South Dakota State 20
Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (SDSU, 17-14)
NEB - 13:29 - Imani Cross 5 run (Pat Smith kick), 4 plays, 66 yards, 1:25 - NEB 7-0
SDSU - 12:10 - Zach Zenner 40 run (Justin Syrovatka kick), 4 plays, 75, 1:19, 7-7
NEB - 8:29 - Cross 2 run (Smith kick), 9 plays, 66 yards, 3:38 - NEB 14-7
SDSU - 6:45 - Zenner 3 run (Syrovatka kick), 5 plays, 71 yards, 1:39 - 14-14
SDSU - 0:05 - Syrovatka 48 FG, 11 plays, 24 yards, 6:02 - SDSU 17-14
Second Quarter (NEB, 38-17)
NEB - 12:30 - Ameer Abdullah 1 run (Smith kick) - 8 plays, 75 yards, 2:35, NEB 21-17
NEB - 7:10 - Sam Burtch 16 pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. (Mauro Bondi kick), 11 plays, 80 yards, 3:22, NEB 28-17
NEB - 4:16 - Tyler Wullenwaber 23 pass from Ron Kellogg III (Smith kick), 2 plays, 32 yards, 0:35 - NEB 35-17
NEB - 0:00 - Bondi 22 FG, 9 plays, 79 yards, 1:29 - NEB 38-17
Third Quarter (NEB, 52-17)
NEB - 4:15 - Terrell Newby 10 run (Smith kick) - 9 plays, 80 yards, 3:23, NEB 45-17
NEB - 2:47 - Randy Gregory 33 INT return (Bondi kick) - NEB 52-17
Fourth Quarter (NEB, 59-20)
SDSU - 12:58 - Syrovatka 29 FG - 11 plays, 63 yards, 4:49, NEB 52-20
NEB - 9:15 - Newby 5 run (Smith kick) - 9 plays, 75 yards, 3:43, NEB 59-20
Final: Nebraska 59, South Dakota State 20
Time of Game: 3:11
Game Start: 2:42 p.m. (central)