(Saturday, September 4th)
Final Score: (8) Nebraska 49, Western Kentucky 10
Lincoln, NE (Sports Network) - Freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez ran for three touchdowns and accounted for 263 of Nebraska's 536 yards of offense, as the eighth-ranked Cornhuskers walloped Western Kentucky, 49-10, at Memorial Stadium.
Martinez ran for 127 yards on only seven carries and threw for another 136 on 9-of-15 attempts. Rex Burkhead, Austin Jones and Rey Helu Jr. each added a rushing score for Nebraska (1-0), which embarked on its final season as a member of the Big 12.
The 'Huskers fell just shy of capturing a conference championship in 2009, dropping a heartbreaking 13-12 decision to Texas.
Bobby Rainey racked up 155 yards on 30 rushes and scored the lone touchdown for the Hilltoppers (0-1), who went without a win in their first season as a full-time FBS member last year. WKU has the nation's longest losing streak at 21 games.
Martinez broke off a 46-yard run to score on Nebraska's opening possession. The Cornhuskers started their second possession near midfield and were quickly ahead 14-0, thanks to Burkhead's 20-yard run to the end zone off left tackle.
"It hurt. It hurt a lot, because our goal was to make them earn everything they get and we didn't do that," said WKU head coach Willie Taggart of Nebraska's two quick scores. "We gave up some big plays, and you can't give up big plays against a team like that if you stand a chance of winning."
Things slowed a bit for Nebraska until more good field position, courtesy of a 31-yard punt return by Niles Paul, resulted in a quick 34-yard drive finished off by Helu's three-yard touchdown.
It remained 21-0 at the half, and Nebraska found the end zone again on its opening possession of the third quarter when Martinez went up the middle for 19 yards and a 28-0 lead.
"I was just really excited to be able to get out there and play my first college football game," said Martinez.
Western Kentucky then put together its best drive to that point, moving 67 yards in 11 plays, but came away with only three on a 25-yard field goal from Casey Tinius.
Paul fumbled it away on the 'Huskers next series, but WKU gave it right back when Rainey coughed up the ball at the end of a 46-yard run to the end zone. It was ruled a touchback and NU went 80 yards the other direction in just six plays, capped by Martinez's third TD of the game -- a 15-yard scamper.
"I thought Taylor did a nice job running the ball. He made some explosive plays and did some really good things," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. "I thought he managed the football team well. I thought he threw it well and was pretty efficient."
The Hilltoppers made good on their next chance, driving 80 yards in nine plays and scoring on Rainey's five-yard score.
Cody Green came on for Martinez in the fourth quarter and led a quick 86-yard scoring jaunt with Paul hauling in a 33-yard touchdown to make it 42-10. Jones capped the scoring with a five-yard TD run.
Paul gained 92 yards on five catches while Brandon Kinnie caught six passes for 59 yards in the win...Burkhead was the Cornhuskers' second-leading rusher with 57 yards...Green was 5-for-6 passing for 66 yards...Rainey also led the Hilltopper receiving game with three catches and 36 yards...Western Kentucky had 299 yards of total offense...Nebraska hosts Idaho next week, while WKU takes on Kentucky in Lexington.
09/05 00:16:12 ET