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Abdullah runs for career-high 225 yards, defense plays big in Huskers' 39-19 win over Illini

  • 213a2cb991c559213f0f6a7067000044.jpg

    Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (2) is pursued and later sacked by Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory (44) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) (The Associated Press)

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    Illinois running back Josh Ferguson (6) carries the ball in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) (The Associated Press)

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    Nebraska running back Imani Cross (32) leaps for extra yards against Illinois defensive back Eaton Spence (27) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) (The Associated Press)

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    Illinois wide receiver Ryan Lankford (12) and Nebraska defensive back Andrew Green (11) reach out for a ball intended for Illinois wide receiver Steve Hull (9), which was knocked away by Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, not schown, in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) (The Associated Press)

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    Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (2) is pursued by Nebraska defensive end Avery Moss (94) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) (The Associated Press)

Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 225 yards and two touchdowns and Nebraska's maligned defense was much improved in a 39-19 victory over Illinois on Saturday.

Tommy Armstrong, starting his second straight game in place of injured quarterback Taylor Martinez, led the Cornhuskers (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) to touchdowns on his first three series and was solid throughout.

Armstrong was 8 of 13 for 135 yards.

Just as big as Armstrong's performance was that of Nebraska's defense, which had been one of the nation's worst through four games.

Illinois (3-2, 0-1), which came in averaging 40 points a game, didn't score its first touchdown until the middle of the third quarter. Twice when the Illini looked as if they would make a game of it, the Huskers made big stops.

Josh Ferguson led the Illini with 114 yards on 19 carries and another 82 yards on eight catches.