Nebraska Loses Coach Bo Pelini, Steamrolls Arkansas State
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska defeated Arkansas State 42-13 Saturday after Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini was taken to the hospital by ambulance at halftime for what he called "precautionary tests."
Taylor Martinez threw two touchdown passes to Kenny Bell for Nebraska (2-1), and Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 167 yards and two scores, filling in for the injured Rex Burkhead.
Pelini said in a statement from the hospital after the game that he was doing fine.
"They ran some precautionary tests on me and everything checked out fine" Pelini said. "I plan to be back at work tomorrow. I'm proud of the way our coaching staff and team responded."
An ambulance took the 44-year-old Pelini to a hospital after he complained of not feeling well in the first half. A member of the Nebraska athletic medicine staff was seen checking his pulse, but he continued to coach through the end of the second quarter.
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis led the team onto the field for the third quarter and served as acting head coach.
The Huskers were in bounce-back mode after surrendering 653 yards in a 36-30 loss at UCLA last week. It was the second-most Nebraska had ever allowed an opponent.
Nebraska came out in a 3-4 alignment rather than its usual 4-3 against a Red Wolves team (1-2) that scored 34 points in a loss to then-No.5 Oregon two weeks ago and averaged 574.5 yards its first two games.
The Red Wolves' offense dented the Huskers for some big gainers but couldn't get into the end zone. The Huskers held them to two field goals and 286 yards, 89 in the second half.
The Red Wolves' only TD came when Qushaun Lee recovered Taylor Martinez's fumble in the end zone in the third quarter.
Martinez was 13 of 14 for 180 yards and ran 18 yards for the Huskers' final touchdown.
Arkansas State gambled and lost on the opening series of the game, giving Nebraska a short field for its first touchdown. Red Wolves coach Gus Malzahn went for it on fourth-and-8 at the Nebraska 49, and Aplin overthrew J.D. McKissic along the sideline.
Abdullah, who carried 30 times, touched the ball on six of eight plays before he crashed in from the 1.
Martinez got some help from Bell on his first TD pass. Bell was well-covered and had to come back and get the ball before stepping into the end zone for the 42-yard score.
Martinez was flawless on the Huskers' third scoring drive. He ran for 27 yards, converted a third-and-8 with a 15-yard pass to Quincy Enunwa and changed the play at the line of scrimmage before finding Bell on a post pattern for a 25-yard TD that made it 21-3.
Nebraska went 75 yards to score just before half, with Abdullah running on seven of 10 plays and going 2 yards for the TD.
After their failed fourth-down play, the Red Wolves moved from their 26 to the Nebraska 32. But P.J. Smith stepped in front of Fredi Knighten's halfback pass for the Huskers' first interception of the season.
Brian Davis kicked field goals of 31 and 32 yards for the Red Wolves.