September 19, 2014

Fast start helps Nebraska sink Fresno State 55-19 to remain unbeaten

A week after needing a last second touchdown to defeat McNeese State, Nebraska buried their opponent early to move to 3-0 on the season.

Head coach Bo Pelini was pleased that his team jumped out to an early lead against Fresno State and never looked back en route to a dominating 55-19 win over the Bulldogs.

“Starting out well helps,” Pelini said. “The crowd was pretty into the game and it kind of took the wind out of their sails a bit.”

Quarterback Tommy Armstrong led a balanced Huskers offense by throwing for 260 yards and three touchdowns as Nebraska was never threatened by the Bulldogs. Armstrong connected with Jordan Westerkamp for a 70-yard touchdown strike less than two minutes into the game and added touchdown tosses to tight ends Cethan Carter and Sam Cotton to help the Huskers overwhelm the Bulldogs in their first road game of the 2014 season. Running back Ameer Abdullah topped the 100-yard mark for the 19th time in his illustrious Nebraska career with 19 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown to lead a balanced offense that returned to form after a bumpy ride against FCS-level McNeese State last week in Lincoln.

It didn’t take long for Nebraska to jump on Fresno State and put the game out of reach. On the game’s third play from scrimmage, Armstrong his Westerkamp down the middle of the field and the redshirt sophomore raced 70 yards untouched for the game’s first score at the 13:14 mark of the first quarter. On Nebraska’s next offensive series, Abdullah raced 57 yards for a touchdown and the Huskers found themselves quickly ahead 14-0. True freshman wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El also got into the end zone with an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown as the Huskers pulled away from a weary Fresno State squad that’s been blown out in all three of its contests this season.

Despite the win, Pelini says there’s a bit to improve for his 3-0 squad.

“We need to keep getting better,” Pelini said. “What happened to us last week, happens a lot. We won the football game. We’re 3-0. Our next goal is to be 4-0.”

Westerkamp led Nebraska with two catches for 85 yards and the touchdown barely two minutes into the game, while Kenny Bell returned from a groin injury to catch five passes for 84 yards. A week after the inability to shake upstart McNeese State, Nebraska buried the Bulldogs with big plays in the running, passing, and punt return games. The Blackshirts didn’t force any turnovers, but harassed Bulldogs’ quarterback Brian Burrell and limited Fresno State’s running game, which was held to just 105 yards on the night. The Huskers rolled up 562 yards of total offense and were never threatened after the first quarter, dispatching Fresno State with relative ease.

Pierson-El’s punt return for a touchdown was Nebraska’s first since Abdullah’s 81-yard punt return touchdown against Idaho State in 2012. The true freshman was excited to get a chance to shine and he certainly did on Saturday night, who returned five punts for a total of 150 yards.

“I was real happy. Coach Pelini told me: ‘we can get one this week.’ That’s what he kept telling me,” Pierson-El noted.

I just wanted to attack and go full speed and make the right decisions and everything. I was excited I could get that.”

Nebraska’s dominating win moves the Big Red to 3-0 on the season, with only a non-conference game against Miami standing between them and a 4-0 start to the season for the first time since 2011. The loss drops Fresno State to 0-3 on the season, after giving up 52 points to Southern California, 59 points to Utah, and now 55 points to Nebraska on Saturday night. Miami comes to Lincoln next week on the heels of a 41-20 win over Arkansas State. The Huskers also find themselves in a strange position just three games into the season–Nebraska joins Penn State as the only Big Ten teams that remain undefeated, after six conference mates suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday–Rutgers, Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, and Illinois.

Nebraska back on track, routs Fresno State 55-19

A week after needing a last second touchdown to defeat McNeese State, Nebraska buried their opponent early to move to 3-0 on the season.

Quarterback Tommy Armstrong led a balanced Huskers offense by throwing for 260 yards and three touchdowns as Nebraska routed Fresno State   on Saturday night. Armstrong connected with Jordan Westerkamp for a 70-yard touchdown strike less than two minutes into the game and added touchdown tosses to tight ends Cethan Carter and Sam Cotton to help the Huskers overwhelm the Bulldogs in their first road game of the 2014 season. Running back Ameer Abdullah topped the 100-yard mark for the 19th time in his illustrious Nebraska career with 19 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown to lead a balanced offense that returned to form after a bumpy ride against FCS-level McNeese State last week in Lincoln.

It didn’t take long for Nebraska to jump on Fresno State and put the game out of reach. On the game’s third play from scrimmage, Armstrong his Westerkamp down the middle of the field and the redshirt sophomore raced 70 yards untouched for the game’s first score at the 13:14 mark of the first quarter. On Nebraska’s next offensive series, Abdullah raced 57 yards for a touchdown and the Huskers found themselves quickly ahead 14-0. True freshman wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El also got into the end zone with an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown as the Huskers pulled away from a weary Fresno State squad that’s been blown out in all three of its contests this season.

Westerkamp led Nebraska with two catches for 85 yards and the touchdown barely two minutes into the game, while Kenny Bell returned from a groin injury to catch five passes for 84 yards. A week after the inability to shake upstart McNeese State, Nebraska buried the Bulldogs with big plays in the running, passing, and punt return games. The Blackshirts didn’t force any turnovers, but harassed Bulldogs’ quarterback Brian Burrell and limited Fresno State’s running game, which was held to just 105 yards on the night. The Huskers rolled up 562 yards of total offense and were never threatened after the first quarter, dispatching Fresno State with relative ease.

More to come…

Huskers will try to snap Bulldogs long home winning streak

With Fresno State sporting a 13-game home winning streak, currently the second-longest in the nation behind Northern Illinois’ 27-game streak, this might be the most anticipated home game since 2008 when the 10th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers rolled into Bulldog Stadium to face No. 21 Fresno State in its home opener. That was the last time the Bulldogs sold out a home opener.

It will be a full house tonight at 9:30 Central when both teams kick off.

Over this 13-game home winning streak, the `Dogs have played great in all phases and outscored opponents by an average margin of 23 points while racking up 561.7 total yards per game.

The keys to the game for Fresno State are playing fast and taking care of the ball on offense, creating turnovers and tackling on defense and in special teams finding a way to make a play whether it be on a return, in coverage or in the kicking game.

The first and only time the Bulldogs played the Huskers back in 2011, it was a play in special teams that launched Nebraska to the victory. Fresno State had just pulled within two points on fourth-quarter touchdown catch by Harper, but Ameer Abdullah returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and the then 10th-ranked Huskers went on to win 42-29.

The Huskers head to Fresno with a 2-0 record after escaping with a 31-24 victory over McNeese State last Saturday in Lincoln. Senior I-back Ameer Abdullah supplied the winning margin on a highlight-reel 58-yard catch and run for a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining. The win marked Nebraska’s 10th straight victory in games decided by seven or fewer points dating back to September of 2012.

Nebraska has started 2-0 for the sixth time in Bo Pelini’s seven seasons as head coach, and will be looking for its first 3-0 start to a season since 2011. Nebraska will also be looking for a win in its road opener for the second straight year.

Will Randy Gregory play? If so, how much? (AUDIO)

Bo Pelini says Randy Gregory will be back on the defensive line for the Huskers this Saturday night at Fresno State. Gregory doesn’t sound so sure of that. He tells us he’s 100%, but is he afraid to go out there and push it?

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This is the second of three meetings between the Huskers and Fresno State. Eight Bulldogs played for them and three started in the game at Memorial Stadium in 2011, including strong safety Derron Smith, a preseason All-American and the 2013 and 2014 Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Fresno State will need to rely heavily on their defense and their goal will be keeping NU off the board in the first quarter. Through two games this season, Fresno State has been outscored 24-0 and 17-0.

Huskers will get Gregory back for Fresno State and Cotton calls his play “bone headed” (AUDIO)

Good news on the injury front.

The Huskers will have their biggest defensive threat back on the field. Bo Pelini said Randy Gregory, who has played just in the opening series of the Florida Atlantic game will play at Fresno State. Pelini said Gregory looked great running on Sunday. The injury situation is a little muddy at wide receiver, where Kenny Bell, Sam Burtch and Brandon Reilly are listed as “day-to-day.” Bell left with a groin injury in the first quarter.

Senior offensive lineman Jake Cotton called his two penalties bone head plays.

Cotton was called for tripping in the third quarter, wiping out a Tommy Armstrong touchdown. NU had to settle for a field goal on the drive. Cotton was flagged in the fourth quarter as an ineligible man downfield, erasing a 41-yard pass from Armstrong to Jordan Westerkamp. Cotton said he thought Armstrong took off running and went off the crowd’s reaction. As one of the team captains, he said he has to lead better by example.

Listen to the Big Red Report