O'Toole, Illini, Battered By Huskers

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 Lincoln, NE (AP) — Ameer Abdullah ran for 208 yards and three touchdowns, Imani Cross added a career-high 109 yards and a TD, and No. 21 Nebraska beat Illinois 45-14 on Saturday night.

The Cornhuskers (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) are off to their best start since 2010 heading into next week's game at No. 9 Michigan State.

Wearing all-red alternate uniforms on homecoming, the Huskers rushed for 458 of their 624 total yards.

Illinois (3-2, 0-1) started Reilly O'Toole at quarterback in place of Wes Lunt. O'Toole was 17 for 38 for 261 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted three times, twice by Daniel Davie.

Lunt was held out because he still was feeling the effects of a leg injury from last week's game against Texas State. The Big Ten's second-leading passer went through pregame warmups and was available if needed.

For Abdullah, it was his third 200-yard rushing game of the season and fourth of his career, second-most in program history behind 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier's seven.

Abdullah went over 100 yards nine minutes into the game and scored the Huskers' first three touchdowns on runs of 12, 8 and 2 yards. Abdullah broke four runs of 20 yards or longer, had three others longer than 10 and left in the middle of the third quarter after going over 200 for the second straight year against the Illini.

Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong Jr. was 10 of 21 for 166 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He attempted only three passes through the first quarter and a half, each one incomplete. On the fourth, he hit Kenny Bell in stride on a fly pattern for a 63-yard touchdown that made it 28-7.

Illinois turned a couple big plays into first-half touchdowns. Josh Ferguson left safety Corey Cooper on his heels with a slick move on a 41-yard run that marked the fourth time in five games that Nebraska has allowed a touchdown on its first defensive series. Geronimo Allison used his 5-inch height advantage to grab a deep ball over cornerback Josh Mitchell, then turned and ran the rest of the way for a 58-yard TD.

Those two drives accounted for 145 yards. The Illini totaled 161 yards on their other 11 possessions against Nebraska's No. 1 defense.

Illinois' offensive line had more than it could handle dealing with defensive end Randy Gregory, who had 2 1/2 sacks and three quarterback hurries — not to mention a bone-jarring block on Malik Turner to help facilitate Nate Gerry's 53-yard interception return that set up a short scoring drive.

The Illini have lost 16 of 17 Big Ten games under third-year coach Tim Beckman and eight in a row against Top 25 opponents since 2011.
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