CHAMPAIGN—Nebraska couldn’t win at Home against Northern Illinois,but threy had no problems with Illinois on the road. When Nebraska ended its nonconference schedule with a loss to NIU, 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.The Illini struggles showed after they kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to 21-6 midway through the third quarter. Patrick Nelson forced an Ozigbo fumble that was recovered by Stanley Green on the Nebraska 28. But the team lost 14 yards in three plays and was forced to punt.