The Huskers out-gained IL 238-153 in total offense and racked up 12 first downs on their 25 plays in the half. He did not throw an interception for the first time since Nebraska's opener against Arkansas State.
None of that mattered one bit when Friday night's game kicked off, however, as the Huskers dominated every aspect of the game from the opening play on en route to a 28-6 victory.
Quarterback Tanner Lee threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns, helping lead Nebraska to a 28-6 win over IL on Friday night.
Led by running back Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska also dominated IL on the ground.
After missing last week's game due to an injury, Stanley Morgan Jr. returned to the lineup and caught a career-high eight passes for 96 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown. Illinois' offense has been a mess, averaging just 22.3 points and 290 yards per game this season. Deftly mixing short, accurate passes and an effective running game, the Huskers kept the Illini defense on its heels. Lee led the Huskers on a eight-play drive that was capped by a 45-yard touchdown pass to De'Mornay Pierson-El, his fourth TD of the season.
Throughout the week, Smith kept reiterating that the focus was to score points to take down the Cornhuskers, and even though the Illini moved the ball down the field with relative ease, they had a hard time finding the end zone.
Nebraska next plays Saturday against Wisconsin.
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It didn't go as smoothly to open the second half. Freshman Mike Epstein had another decent game on offense, carrying the ball 10 times for 42 yards, including a couple of sizable runs. His touchdown run was a 15-yard scamper early in the second quarter to make it 14-3 Cornhuskers.
Still leading 14-3, Lee and the Huskers got the ball back with 6:25 left in the first half at their own 11-yard line. Lee was again ideal on the drive, going 4-for-4 with completions to four different receivers.
A targeting call saved Nebraska's first drive of the night. He was 11 of 13 for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and did not turn the ball over.
Nebraska still on top 7-3. On the night, Crouch was 9-for-15 for 99 yards and ran for 37 yards on 18 carries.
Three touchdown passes by quarterback Tanner Lee lifted Nebraska over IL to a 28-6 victory in the Big Ten's first ever Friday Night conference matchup. The Nebraska running game was held in check until the end, as they began to pound the ball on the ground to run the clock out. On third-and-12, sophomore Carlos Davis sacked Crouch to end the Illini threat. IL had 1st-and-goal, but the Blackshirts again rose to the occasion and forced the Illini to settle for a field goal.
IL quickly got the ball back in Nebraska territory following a fumble by Ozigbo, but the offense didn't pick up a yard. Twice Illinois met first-and-goal situations but had to settle for field goals.
The young players continue to play well for the Illini, but they are not almost where they need to be to compete with the rough and tumble Big Ten. The Huskers marched 89 yards in nine plays with the points coming on a six-yard touchdown pass from Lee to senior tight end Tyler Hoppes with 1:23 to play in the second quarter.