The Nebraska Cornhuskers walked away with a win at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, but they didn’t walk away with out a limp. The Huskers had to out score the Mississippi State Golden Eagles, 28-3 in the second half, to a void a scare in Lincoln.
Nebraska senior running back Rex Burkhead had 3 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown Saturday. Burkhead, the star of the offense, left the game in the first quarter with a slight limp in his left leg. It turned out he sprained his MCL in his knee. At half time Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said it was not a long term injury.
In his absence Nebraska running backs combined for 177 yards, on 29 carries. Nebraska finished the day with 278 rushing yards, and two touchdowns on the ground. 9 different Cornhuskers carried the ball on Saturday. Freshman Imani Cross finished the game in mop up duty. He carried the ball, 11 times for 62 yards.
The big story running the ball is the emergence of back up running backs Ameer Abdullah, and Braylon Heard. Both seemed to have put on about ten pounds of solid weight from last season, and both really seemed to be running with a purpose on Saturday. With Burkhead’s injury, and three not so strong non-conference opponents on the schedule, the Huskers may rest Burkhead and the young backs may need to step up in the coming weeks. They looked ready today. Abdullah led the Huskers in rushing with 15 carries, for 81 yards.
With the focus on the run game, redshirt junior Taylor Martinez lit up the scoreboard on Saturday. The California natives highly talked about summer looks like it has paid off. Martinez returned to his home state to work on his foot work in the off season. It showed on Saturday. He finished the game 26 of 34, for 354 yards, and five touchdowns. He also rushed the ball 6 times for 10 yards.
Martinez connected with 10 different receivers on Saturday. Every one of his five touchdown passes was to a different target Quincy Enunwa led all receivers with 6 catches for 70 yards.
2011 leading recevier Kenny Bell, finished the day with just one catch. He made it count. It was a 26 yard touchdown strike that helped the Huskers jump out to their early 14 point lead. Wide Receiver Tim Marlowe left the game with an undisclosed arm injury
Despite the defensive struggles though out the game, corner backs Ciante Evans, and Corey Cooper really stood out.
The Golden Eagles finished the day with 260 yards on offense, but did convert 7 of 9 3rd downs. The Blackshirts gave up 185 yards rushing to the spread attack of the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss averaged 3.9 yards a carry.
The Husker that struggled the most on Saturday was pre-season All-American Brett Maher. He finished his day 0-2 on field goals, and shanked a punt late in the 3rd quarter. He will be someone to keep an eye on next week against UCLA.
By Jimmie Allen
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