7:00 PM ET, September 10, 2011
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, NE), Lincoln, NE
LINCOLN, Neb. -- In a game filled with big plays, Ameer Abdullah made the biggest.
The Nebraska freshman returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown after Fresno State made it a two-point game in the fourth quarter, and the 10th-ranked Cornhuskers went on to win 42-29 Saturday night.
On Saturday, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez and Michigan's Denard Robinson both had their seventh career game in which they topped 100 passing yards and 100 rushing yards, the most in the FBS over the past two seasons.
Most Games 100 Yards Passing, Rushing
Active FBS Players, Last 2 Season
|Taylor Martinez, Nebraska||7|
|Denard Robinson, Michigan||7|
|Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois||6|
"We had a couple previous kick returns that were almost there," Abdullah said. "So we perfected the blocks and wedge. Coach said I had to make a move and make a play. It was the turning point of the game."
Taylor Martinez turned in an uneven performance but came through when the Huskers (2-0) needed him most, breaking a 46-yard touchdown run on a third-and-3 that put the game away against a four-touchdown underdog.
"Every year you're going to have some games like this," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "You're going to have some games where you have to find a way, and we did. There were a couple times early in this football game where it had a chance to go south on us pretty quick, and I think we rose up."
With the cloud of a welfare fraud investigation hanging over the program, and retired basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian watching from the press box, the Bulldogs (0-2) made a strong run at their first win over a Top 10 opponent since 2001.
"Playing close is not what we try to do," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "I told them I was very, very proud of their performance. I have to give credit to Nebraska. They made a couple of big plays at the end. The kickoff return and the long option play, they made a couple of big plays when they had to."
Nebraska had six plays from scrimmage of at least 38 yards. Fresno State had five plays of at least 20 yards and a 67-yard punt return by Devon Wylie that opened the scoring.
Martinez ran 15 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 219 yards and another score. His 385 yards of total offense was the second-most of his career.
But he also fumbled twice, with the Huskers recovering both, and he threw two interceptions, though one was a desperation heave at the end of the half. He completed 10 of 21 passes, badly missing some of his receivers.
Fresno State led 17-14 at halftime and extended the lead to 20-14 early in the third quarter before Nebraska came back to win its 22nd straight game against a Western Athletic Conference opponent.
Asked what he told his team at halftime, Pelini said: "We're going to find out what this football team wants to be. Period."
Abdullah, who set a school record with 211 yards on five kick returns, then thwarted any momentum Fresno State might have generated.
He caught the kick 2 yards deep in the end zone, burst through the middle and then down the right sideline. Battling leg cramps, he cut back to the left inside the 10 and crossed the goal line as Davon Dunn brought him down to finish the fourth 100-yard kick return in program history.
"I had to get to the end zone," Abdullah said.
After Kevin Goessling's 38-yard field goal pulled Fresno State to 35-29 with 5:24 left, Rex Burkhead did some tough running between the tackles before Martinez broke free for the Huskers' last touchdown.
Hill has built his program on playing, and often beating, opponents from BCS conferences. The Bulldogs came to Lincoln having won seven of their last 11 against BCS schools but having lost 12 straight against opponents ranked in the Top 25.
Carr, brother of former Bulldogs star and 2002 No. 1 NFL draft pick David Carr, wasn't intimidated by Memorial Stadium's "Sea of Red," completing 20 of 41 passes for 254 yards.
The Bulldogs' young offensive line, which lost starting center Richard Helepiko last week, got dinged again early when starting left guard Matt Hunt left with what appeared to be an injury to his right foot.
Still, Nebraska's vaunted front four couldn't get much pressure on Carr as the Bulldogs had him move the pocket.
"That O-line, they battled their butts off the whole entire game for me," Carr said. "They let them hit me one time. Rouse, when he averages 5 yards a carry, it makes my job a lot easier opening up the passing game. I'm very proud of him. And our defense battled. They just made a couple more plays."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Ameer Abdullah returned a kickoff 100 yards for Nebraska, answering a Fresno State TD.
Gameball goes to... Taylor Martinez. The Huskers QB threw for 219 yards and added 166 on the ground.
Stat of the game... 13. Fresno State, which has the reputation of giant killer, lost its 13th straight vs. a Top 25 foe.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||9-20||4-12|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-2|
|TD||07:45||Devon Wylie 67 Yd Punt Return (Kevin Goessling Kick)||7||0|
|TD||05:54||Taylor Martinez 1 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||7||7|
|TD||00:28||Derek Carr 3 Yd Run (Kevin Goessling Kick)||14||7|
|TD||04:52||Rex Burkhead 1 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||14||14|
|FG||00:25||Kevin Goessling 22 Yd||17||14|
|FG||10:17||Kevin Goessling 36 Yd||20||14|
|TD||08:20||Quincy Enunwa 16 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Brett Maher Kick)||20||21|
|TD||12:59||Rex Burkhead 6 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||20||28|
|TD||12:06||Josh Harper 26 Yd Pass From Derek Carr (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)||26||28|
|TD||11:50||Ameer Abdullah 100 Yd Kickoff Return (Brett Maher Kick)||26||35|
|FG||05:24||Kevin Goessling 37 Yd||29||35|
|TD||02:02||Taylor Martinez 46 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||29||42|