Quarterback Adrian Martinez completed 15-of-22 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns, JD Spielman returned a punt for 77 yards and a touchdown, and Nebraska built an early lead en route to a 45-9 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.
A Memorial Stadium crowd of 88,735 saw Nebraska (2-6, 1-4 Big Ten) improve to 12-0 all-time against FCS foes in a make-up game for the season opener against Akron that was cancelled because of severe weather.
Martinez, a true freshman from Fresno, California, increased his season total to 1,656 passing yards, setting a Nebraska freshman record. The previous record was 1,632 yards by Taylor Martinez in 2010.
Nebraska built a 28-3 lead after one quarter and led 38-3 at halftime, its biggest halftime lead since 2012.
“We needed that to happen,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said of the fast start. “We needed to go out and get the game secured early. I’ve said it a bunch, 12 weeks in a row is a long time, 13 weeks of practice in a row of practice is a long time without any break. It isn’t just the physical, it’s the grind of it. It takes a toll on you emotionally, especially with what these guys have been through this season.”
With Nebraska already ahead 7-0, Spielman returned his punt for a touchdown, the longest punt return by a Husker since De’Mornay Pierson-El returned one 80 yards against Iowa in 2014.
“We blocked everybody on that play,” Frost said. “Our special teams did get better; I think they have been improving. Confused special teams plays probably cost us a couple games this year, and it was good to see us finally get one on special teams. You score on defense or special teams, you’re going to win most games. We haven’t had one yet, so it was good to see us break the ice.”
Senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. then caught first-quarter touchdowns of 3 and 27 yards to give Nebraska a comfortable lead. He caught seven passes for 82 yards, all in the first half. It marked the second straight game Morgan has had two touchdown catches, and gives him 20 career touchdown receptions.
Transfer quarterback Noah Vedral, a native of Wahoo, saw his first action of the season beginning in the second half. He had a 20-yard rush for a touchdown and completed two passes for 29 yards.
“It was good seeing him get in the end zone,” Frost said. “I know growing up here, when I was little, that was all I could think about was scoring as a Husker, and it’s been kind of a weird path for him to get there, but it was great to see him dive into the end zone at Memorial Stadium.”
Senior running back Devine Ozigbo rushed 11 times for 110 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown to begin the game. Ozigbo did not play in the second half. It marked the fourth time in the past five games Ozigbo has topped 100 yards, and his seventh career 100-yard rushing game.
Punter Isaac Armstrong had a 73-yard punt in the third quarter, tying for the seventh-longest punt in school history. It is the longest punt by a Husker since Alex Henery had a 76-yard punt at Virginia Tech in 2009.
Safety Deontai Williams had two takeaways, recovering a fumble in the second quarter and picking off a BCU pass in the third quarter. Nebraska forced three turnovers, a season high. Senior linebacker Luke Gifford had a sack to increase his season total to 5.5, a team high.
Defensive lineman Peyton Newell had an interception in the second quarter, the first of his career. It was the first interception by a Nebraska defensive lineman since defensive end Randy Gregory, Jason Ankrah and Avery Moss each had an interception in 2013.
Since beginning the season 0-6, the Huskers have won two straight games as they prepare for a Big Ten Conference road game at Ohio State on Saturday.
“Hopefully the last two (wins) means we’re going to be more of a confident team,” Frost said. “We’ve got to go on the road to a tough place to play a very good team. We know what we’re in for, we’re going to get their best shot.”