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Pelini era starts in style as Nebraska rolls over Western Michigan

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Joe Ganz threw four touchdown passes to help Bo Pelini win his first game as Nebraska's coach, 47-24 over Western Michigan on Saturday night.

Nebraska won its season opener for the 23rd straight year, the longest streak in the nation, but this victory marked a new beginning for a program in rebuilding mode after unraveling under Bill Callahan.

The Huskers led 34-10 at the half before Western Michigan dented them for two of three 80-yard scoring drives, unnerving a crowd that feared a reprise of one of the nation's worst defenses last year.

Ganz provided more than enough offense to beat the visitors from the Mid-American Conference. The fifth-year senior completed 20 of 36 passes for 345 yards. He threw two touchdown passes to Nate Swift, who had 121 yards in receptions, and one each to Mike McNeill and Marlon Lucky.

Ganz became the first Nebraska quarterback to have four 300-yard passing games.

Alex Henery kicked four career-long 44-yard field goals.

Ganz, who threw seven interceptions as the starter in the last three games in 2007, was turnover-free until getting picked off twice in two series in the fourth quarter as the Broncos were trying to come back. But Nebraska held each time.

Tim Hiller was 30-of-49 for 342 yards and two scores for Western Michigan. Tight end Branden Ledbetter caught nine balls for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Western Michigan, which was looking for a win over a BCS opponent for the third straight year, couldn't recapture the magic of last season's 28-19 road win over Iowa.

Nebraska's defense, fueled by the crowd of 84,485 on a sultry 87-degree night, held the Broncos to 8 yards on nine plays over three series.

The Huskers scored on three straight possessions to go up 17-0 early in the second quarter, with Lucky running in from 14 yards, McNeill catching a 3-yard TD pass and Henery kicking the first of his 44-yarders.

Helped by 30 yards in penalties against Nebraska cornerback Anthony West -- pass interference and a personal foul -- the Broncos moved 80 yards in 10 plays to pull to 17-7. Hiller finished the series with a 3-yard pass to Ledbetter.

The Huskers came right back, scoring less than a minute later when Ganz found Swift for a 61-yard touchdown pass.

WMU, held to 102 yards in the first half, dinged the Huskers for 194 yards in the third quarter and finished with 350. The Broncos rushed for just 8 yards.

Nebraska's Roy Helu Jr. led all rushers with 52 yards.

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