Lincoln - Rex Burkhead returned to spark a 35-point first quarter, and Nebraska's Blackshirt defense held Idaho State to minus-11 rushing yards through the first three quarters in a 73-7 win over the Bengals Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska closed non-conference play with a 3-1 record and improved to 3-0 at home this season, while notching the NCAA-record 321st consecutive sellout in NU history. The 84,923 fans at Memorial Stadium and a Big Ten Network national television audience witnessed a 35-point first quarter that marked NU's highest-scoring quarter since a school-record 38 first-quarter points against Baylor in 2000.
Burkhead, a senior I-back from Plano, Texas unleashed a career-long 61-yard run on his third carry of the game to put Nebraska up 7-0 just over three minutes into the game against the Bengals. At that point, it gave Burkhead six carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns in less than one total quarter of action on the year.
He finished the day with eight carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half, while recording the 12th 100-yard rushing performance of his career. In roughly a half of action this season, Burkhead has produced 187 rushing yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns. He added his first reception of the season with a 25-yard grab against ISU.
Burkhead's explosive run was followed by an eight-yard scoring run by sophomore I-back Ameer Abdullah just over three minutes later to put the Huskers ahead 14-0 with 8:31 left in the quarter.
Nebraska's Blackshirt defense produced another quick stop that was capped by Steven Osborne's tackle on a failed fake punt attempt by Idaho State on fourth down. The Huskers capitalized on their next offensive play, as Taylor Martinez hit Quincy Enunwa with a 35-yard scoring strike to put Nebraska ahead with 6:03 left in the first quarter.
After another stop by the Blackshirts, Martinez was credited with another touchdown pass on NU's next offensive play from scrimmage. He flipped a forward pitch to sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bell on a reverse, and Bell raced 68 yards to paydirt to put the Huskers up 28-0 with 3:37 left in the quarter. It was the third straight offensive play to result in a touchdown for the Huskers in the quarter.
The Blackshirts, who held Idaho State to just 13 yards on 21 plays in the first quarter, then got on the scoreboard for the first time this season. Ciante Evans intercepted a Kevin Yost pass and raced 29 yards for a touchdown to cap NU's 35-point period with 2:52 left in the quarter.
Burkhead ended his day with a two-yard touchdown run with 12:01 left in the half. Brett Maher booted a 49-yard field goal with 0:41 seconds left in the second quarter to send the Huskers to the locker room with a 45-0 halftime lead.
Martinez finished his day with 165 passing yards and two touchdowns with nine completions on 13 attempts. He also carried seven times for 15 yards, accounting for 180 total yards in less than a half.
Ron Kellogg III quarterbacked the Huskers for most of the second half, completing 3-of-5 passes for 19 yards, including his first career touchdown pass to Steven Osborne. Kellogg, a junior from Omaha, led NU on three scoring drives in the second half for the most extensive action of his career.
Abdullah kept the points coming for the Huskers early in the second by unleashing an 81-yard punt return to push Nebraska's lead to 52-0 with 12:19 left in the third quarter. Kellogg's pass to Osborne came with 8:52 left in the quarter, before sophomore I-back Braylon Heard added a 27-yard scoring run to make it 66-0 Nebraska with 5:25 left in the third. Heard finished with 74 yards on seven carries.
Freshman I-back Imani Cross carried the load for Nebraska the rest of the way, posting his first career 100-yard rushing day with 12 carries for 100 yards and NU's final touchdown with 8:11 left in the game.
Four different Nebraska I-backs scored touchdowns in the game, as the Huskers rolled up 385 yards on the ground. It marked the second straight 300-yard game for the Big Red and the most rushing yards for NU since producing 413 yards against Nevada in 2007.
Nebraska amassed 569 yards of total offense, while holding Idaho State to just 210 total yards, including just 31 on the ground. The Blackshirts forced a season-high three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions. They also recorded a season-best seven sacks, including 2.5 by Eric Martin, who led NU with five total tackles - all for losses on the day.
Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium to end a three-game home stand by opening Big Ten play against Wisconsin. Kickoff between the Huskers and Badgers is set for 7 p.m. with live television coverage on ABC.
Final: #25 Nebraska 73, Idaho State 7
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)