College Football: Nebraska 28, Illinois 6 - D1SportsNet


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College football

Nebraska 28, Illinois 6

Three touchdown passes by quarterback Tanner Lee lifted Nebraska over Illinois, 28-6.

Lee finished the evening 17 for 24 for 246 yards and three touchdowns. He did not throw an interception for the first time since Nebraska's opener against Arkansas State.

Stanley Morgan led receivers with eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. De'Mornay Pierson-El added 94 yards and a touchdown. Devine Ozigbo led the Huskers in rushing for the second straight week, rushing for 106 yards.

Nebraska defense forced Illinois, the worst passing team the Big Ten, to beat them through the air. That didn't really happen. Illini quarterback Chayce Crouch was 9 for 15 for 99 yards and had 37 rushing yards. The Illini averaged 3.8 yards per play, while the Huskers rolled with 6.8 yards per play.

The Blackshirts had five sacks on the day, and held the Illini to 199 yards.

Nebraska (3-2, 2-0) rattles off two wins in a row for the first time since November of 2016. They remain atop the Big Ten West, and will host No. 10 Wisconsin next week.

Nebraska took a 21-3 lead into the half, the largest lead at halftime in Big Ten play in the Mike Riley era.

A targeting call saved Nebraska's first drive of the night. The Huskers were about to go three-and-out, but a third-and-10 targeting call extended Nebraska's drive.

Six plays later, Lee capped off an eight-play, 88-yard drive by finding Pierson-El in the middle for a 45-yard touchdown pass.

Junior running back Mikale Wilbon got the start in place of the injured Tre Bryant. Center Michael Decker and right tackle Brenden Jaimes each made their second straight starts on the offensive line.

Illinois' ensuing possession was also extended with a penalty. Nebraska had the Illini at third-and-11, but a pass interference call on corner Eric Lee kept the drive going. Lee would later get another pass interference called on him in the second quarter.

Illinois grounded-and-pounded all the way down to the 3-yard line, passing the ball just once. They had to settle for a 25-yard field goal, which cut the lead to 7-3.

The Huskers made easy work on their second drive. Tailback Devine Ozigbo capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. Lee found receivers for 15, seven and 20 yards on the scoring drive.

Through two drives, Lee was 7 for 9 for 109 yards.

On Nebraska's final drive of the half, the Huskers did not face a third down on the way to a score. Lee found tight end Tyler Hoppes from six yards out for a touchdown. On that drive, Nebraska had four plays of 10 yards or more, including a 24-yard pass from Lee to Pierson-El.

Nebraska went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half. Illinois drove 45 yards and had first-and-goal for the second time. The Blackshirts held once again, forcing the Illini into a 25-yard field goal, to cut the lead to 21-6.

Illinois couldn't capitalize on an Ozigbo fumble in the middle of the third quarter. On third-and-12, sophomore Carlos Davis sacked Crouch to end the Illini threat.

Nebraska then marched 93 yards down the field in 14 plays to go up 28-6. Morgan caught four passes on that drive, including a 23-yard crossing route which ended in a score. That put the lead just out of range for the Illini, who couldn't find any rhythm on offense.

Nebraska is now 12-2 under Riley when leading at the half.