Behind Roy Helu Jr.’s strong second half and a solid debut for quarterback Zac Lee, the Nebraska Cornhuskers opened the 2009 season with a 49-3 win over Florida Atlantic. It was the Huskers NCAA best 24th straight season opening victory.
Helu Jr. finished with 152 yards, with 95 of that coming in the third quarter, where he rushed the ball just five times and scored twice. The strong passing game helped open up the ground for Helu as Lee threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns on 15 of 22 passing.
It didn’t take long for Lee to get going. On the Husker’s second possession, he hit Menelik Holt on a 28 yards pass for a 7-0 lead. the Huskers’ second possession. Lee’s first career touchdown pass gave Nebraska a 7-0 lead with 7:41 left in the first quarter. Lee connected on a 51-yard scoring strike to make it 14-0. After a roughing the passer penalty gave FAU’s a 1st-and-Goal at the NU, the defense held the Owls to a 21 yard field goal for a 14-3 with eight minutes to go in the first half.
The offense went back to work chugging it out on the ground to go up 21-3 on a 75 yard drive that covered 7:16. In the second half, the running game continued to control play. Helu carried the load with three carries for 49 yards on the first drive of the second half as NU covered all 62 yards of the drive on the ground to take a 28-3 lead. On FAU’s ensuing drive, the Blackshirts forced their first turnover of the season, as Rusty Smith got picked off. Helu then ran 44 yards for his third touchdown just four plays later to push NU’s lead to 35-3 with 7:26 left in the third quarter to end his night.
The defense then came up with a fumble recovery and after Lee got picked off, the Huskers answered that with their second INT of the game. Rex Burkhead later scored for the Huskers as well as true freshmen quarterback Cody Green to round out the scoring.