Champaign, Ill. — When Nebraska ended its nonconference schedule with a loss to Northern Illinois, it didn't just drop the Cornhuskers to 1-2. It also served as an early turning point in the season and cost athletic director Shawn Eichorst his job.
Life in the Big Ten has been much easier.
Last week, the Cornhuskers pulled out a back-and-forth victory against Rutgers. But on Friday, they were in total control.
Entering the matchup, Tanner Lee led the FBS with nine interceptions and was held to 109 yards by the Scarlet Knights. Against Illinois, he threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns, helping lead Nebraska to a 28-6 win.
"I think it's coaching," Lee said. "The looks we were expecting the looks we got, the plays we were running were things we practiced all week at practice. I'm glad that we got into a rhythm there. We just looked good."
The Cornhuskers (3-2, 2-0) led wire to wire, scoring on their first possession, a quick 88-yard drive capped by a 45-yard touchdown pass from Lee to De'Mornay Pierson-El, and was never under pressure.
Pierson-El finished the night with four receptions for 94 yards and one score. Stanley Morgan Jr. also had a big night with a career-high eight receptions for 96 yards and a score.
"I think (Lee) passed well," Morgan Jr. said. "He did an excellent job, just finding open receivers and getting the ball to us."
Morgan Jr.'s strong outing also moved him up the list of Cornhusker greats. He now has 84 catches and 1,152 receiving yards which are ranked 12th and 16th, respectively, in school history.
Led by running back Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska also dominated Illinois on the ground. Ozigbo had 106 yards on 18 carries. His 15-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was his first score of the season.
Illinois (2-2, 0-1) continued to struggle behind run-first quarterback Chayce Crouch. He made several plays with his legs, including an impressive 19-yard tackle-breaking scamper just before the half, but he threw for only 99 yards. Crouch has yet to eclipse 150 passing yards this season.
Friday’s Top 25
(At) No. 16 Washington State 30, No. 5 Southern Cal 27: Luke Falk threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns and Erik Powell kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:40 left for Washington State.
With the national stage to themselves, the Cougars proved they are ready to contend for the Pac-12 title, pulling off their first regular-season win over a top-five opponent in 25 years. Washington State (5-0, 2-0) had lost 15 consecutive home games against ranked opponents.
Falk was excellent most of the night against Southern California's pressure, but it was a key 35-yard run from Jamal Morrow that set up Powell's winning field goal.
Sam Darnold struggled for USC (4-1, 2-1). Darnold was 15-of-29 passing for 164 yards and an interception. Darnold has thrown eight interceptions in five games after throwing nine interceptions all of last season.
Darnold did run for a pair of touchdowns, including a 2-yarder with 5:01 remaining that tied it at 27. But he couldn't pull off a final rally, fumbling when he was sacked deep in Washington State territory with 1:27 left. Falk took two kneel downs and the party erupted on the turf of Martin Stadium.
No. 14 Miami 31, (at) Duke 6: Malik Rosier threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score for Miami.
Rosier threw for 270 yards, including a 49-yard catch-and-run score by Ahmmon Richards early in the fourth quarter. Richards' score broke it open, giving the Hurricanes (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 24-6 lead with 11:02 left.
Mark Walton — averaging a conference-best 176 yards rushing through two games — managed only 51 yards on 17 carries against the nation's No. 2-ranked run defense. But he added 79 yards receiving before leaving in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Linebacker Michael Pinckney had 10 tackles, a fourth-down sack on Duke's opening drive and a second-quarter interception to lead the effort that kept the Blue Devils (4-1, 1-1) out of the end zone.
Duke finished with 349 yards, but converted just 5 of 19 third downs.