Lincoln - No. 18 Nebraska rushed for 375 yards and amassed 530 total yards on its way to a 37-34 victory over Wyoming for the Huskers' 28th consecutive season-opening win on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
Playing in front of school-record 91,185 fans in the NCAA-record 326th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium, Nebraska rolled up 375 yards on 63 rushes, including 114 yards from junior I-back Ameer Abdullah and 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns for sophomore I-back Imani Cross. NU also got 80 rushing yards from senior quarterback Taylor Martinez and 76 yards from freshman I-back Terrell Newby.
Martinez also completed 17-of-22 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns, including seven receptions for 57 yards to junior Kenny Bell. Junior Jamal Turner added four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown, while senior receiver Quincy Enunwa hauled in three spectacular catches with a pair of touchdowns.
Despite the impressive offensive totals for the Huskers, a pair of late NU turnovers allowed the visiting Cowboys to put a scare into the Big Red.
Nebraska led 37-21 with the ball on the Wyoming 25 with just under seven minutes left in the game. But a Taylor Martinez pass was intercepted by Wyoming's Blair Burns to breath life into the Cowboys. Burns returned the pick 33 yards to the Wyoming 48, and it took quarterback Brett Smith and the Cowboys just two plays and 24 seconds to find paydirt. Smith hit receiver Jalen Claiborne on their second scoring connection of the game to trim NU's lead to 37-27, after Wyoming's two-point conversion attempt was smothered by Husker defensive back Josh Mitchell.
Martinez returned to march the Huskers into Wyoming territory again on the ensuing drive. But on 4th-and-1 at the Wyoming 39, Martinez was stripped of the ball on a quarterback sneak to give the Cowboys more hope with 2:00 left in the game.
Smith struck quickly again, hitting receiver Robert Herron on a 47-yard touchdown pass just 29 seconds later to pull Wyoming within 37-34.
On NU's ensuing drive, Wyoming forced a three-and-out by the Huskers, who got a clutch 31-yard punt from Sam Foltz that was caught by NU's Bell at the Wyoming 6.
Smith got a chance at the upset, but the Husker defense held Wyoming without a shot at the end zone to escape with the victory.
The experienced Cowboy signal-caller Smith finished with the fourth-highest total offense performance by an opponent in Husker history with 475 total yards. The junior completed 29-of-44 passes for 383 yards with four touchdowns, although Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste each pulled down interceptions for the Huskers. Smith's 29 completions and four touchdowns throws were also top-10 marks all-time against NU.
Smith added 92 rushing yards on eight carries. Cowboy receiver Dominic Rufran hauled in a career-high 11 catches for 120 yards, while Claiborne added seven catches for 88 yards and two scores.
Shaun Wick pitched in his first career 100-yard rushing performance with 101 yards and a score on 12 carries.
Overall, the two teams combined for 1,132 yards of total offense, as Wyoming finished with 602 total yards, including 219 yards on the ground. The Cowboys' total yards marked the eighth-highest mark against the Big Red in school history.
Nebraska built a 37-21 lead by dominating early in the third quarter. After producing 145 rushing yards in the first half, the Huskers amassed 144 rushing yards in the third quarter alone.
Nebraska opened the second half with a smash-mouth drive, pounding 65 yards in five hard-driving carries. A 31-yard touchdown run by Cross that included a highlight reel hit and spin before a sprint into the end zone, gave the Huskers a 24-14 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter.
NU pushed the lead to 31-14 on Enunwa's spectacular diving grab in the corner of the end zone with 4:08 left in the third quarter. Enunwa's catch capped a 15-play, 67-yard drive.
Wyoming answered late in the third quarter on Smith's 22-yard pass to Brandon Miller with 2:04 left. The touchdown culminated an eight-play, 83-yard drive for the Cowboys to cut NU's edge to 31-21 at the end of three quarters.
Enunwa came up with the winning score with 11:38 left in the game, leaping for a seven-yard catch to cap a 13-play, 82-yard that lasted 5:22. It was Enunwa's second sensational catch of the drive, including a 17-yard to put the Huskers at the Wyoming 9.
In a first half filled with well over 500 yards of combined total offense by the two teams, Nebraska took a 17-14 lead to the locker room.
A one-yard plunge by Cross capped a three-play, 80-yard drive that took just 52 seconds to put the Huskers up 17-14 with 5:59 left in the half. NU's third scoring drive was ignited by Abdullah's career-long 62 burst up the left side on the first play.
After Wyoming and Nebraska exchanged punts following their opening drives, the Cowboys struck first when Smith hit Jalen Claiborne with a six-yard touchdown pass to close a six-play, 64-yard drive. Wyoming led 7-0 with 8:48 left in the opening quarter, before Husker senior place-kicker Pat Smith hit a 24-yard field goal to close a 10-play, 55-yard drive with five minutes left in the quarter.
Following Smith's field goal, Wyoming quickly drove to the Nebraska 37 before Jean-Baptiste provided the Blackshirts with a defensive highlight by picking off a Smith pass in the end zone before returning it 42 yards. The Huskers converted the turnover into points, when Martinez hooked up with Jamal Turner on a 17-yard strike with 1:20 left in the first quarter. NU's first touchdown of the season capped a six-play, 58-yard drive that took 2:27 and gave Nebraska a 10-7 edge at the end of the first quarter.
Nebraska continues its five-game season-opening home stand next Saturday when the Huskers play host to Southern Miss. Kickoff between NU and the Eagles is set for 5 p.m. with a live national telecast by the Big Ten Network.
Final: #18 Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34
Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (NEB, 10-7)
WYO - 8:48 - Jalen Claiborne 6 pass from Brett Smith (Stuart Williams kick) - 6 plays, 64 yards, 1:57, WYO 7-0
NEB - 5:00 - Pat Smith 24 FG - 10 plays, 55 yards, 3:41, WYO 7-3
NEB - 1:20 - Jamal Turner 17 pass from Taylor Martinez (Smith kick), 6 plays, 58 yards, 2:08, NEB 10-7
Second Quarter (NEB, 17-14)
WYO - 11:38 - Shaun Wick 5 run (Williams kick) - 5 plays, 76 yards, 1:27, WYO 14-10
NEB - 5:59 - Imani Cross 1 run (Smith kick) - 3 plays, 80 yards, 0:52, NEB 17-14
Third Quarter (NEB, 31-21)
NEB - 13:22 - Cross 31 run (Smith kick) - 5 plays, 65 yards, 1:32, NEB 24-14
NEB - 4:08 - Quincy Enunwa 3 pass from Martinez (Smith kick) - 15 plays, 67 yards, 6:22, NEB 31-14
WYO - 2:04 - Brandon Miller 22 pass from Smith (Williams kick), 8 plays, 83 yards, 1:57, NEB 31-21
Fourth Quarter (NEB, 38-34)
NEB - 11:38 - Enunwa 7 pass from Martinez (Smith kick failed) - 13 plays, 82 yards, 5:22, NEB 38-21
WYO - 6:02 - Claiborne 29 pass from Smith (2PAT failed) - 2 plays, 52 yards, 0:24
WYO - 1:32 - Robert Herron 47 pass from Smith (Williams kick) - 3 plays, 62 yards, 0:29
Final: #18 Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34
Time of Game: 3:33
Game Start: 7:01 p.m. (central)