LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Ameer Abdullah says someday he’ll look back and revel in the kind of game he played against Rutgers.
Not now, though, because he believes he has a lot more to accomplish this season.
Abdullah nudged his way back into the Heisman Trophy conversation Saturday by running for 225 yards and three touchdowns and setting a school record with 341 all-purpose yards in the No. 16 Cornhuskers’ 42-24 victory.
“Every time I step on the field, whether practice or games, I’m always creating memories here,” Abdullah said. “These are always things I’m going to remember, coming here and playing football for this great university.”
Abdullah surpassed 200 yards rushing for a nation-leading fourth time this season and fifth time in his career. He broke Roy Helu Jr.’s record of 321 all-purpose yards with his 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Cornhuskers (7-1, 3-1) reached the halfway point of conference play tied with Minnesota for first in the West Division, but coach Bo Pelini was in no mood to celebrate.
There were too many defensive breakdowns for his liking, particularly early and late, and too many penalties on offense.
“We got the win and I’m happy about that. That’s all I’m happy about,” Pelini said. “I didn’t like the way we played. I thought we were sloppy, inconsistent and we didn’t play up to the standard we need to.”
The Scarlet Knights (5-3, 1-3) lost quarterback Gary Nova on the second-to-last play of the first half. Nova held his right knee after Maliek Collins brought him down as he got rid of the ball. Chris Laviano played the rest of the game.
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said it would take a couple of days to determine the extent of Nova’s injury.
Rutgers lost 56-17 at Ohio State a week ago and has been outscored 98-41 in its past two games.
“We’re disappointed that we’re 0-2 if you look at it from a two-game perspective,” Flood said. “I think we’ve come out of it a better football team. I think just from the experience of it, going on the road and playing some of the best teams in the country, we’re going to be a better football team.”
Abdullah ran for 149 yards and two long touchdowns in the first half. He hit the right corner hard, put a move on safety Lorenzo Waters and continued on for a 53-yard TD.
On the next series, Abdullah went left for 48 yards to put the Huskers in front 21-7.
Abdullah broke a 49-yard run on the first play of the second half to start a series that ended with Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s short TD pass to Sam Cotton. After Kyle Federico’s 41-yard field goal for Rutgers, Abdullah ran back the kickoff 76 yards to set up a short scoring drive.
“Once he gets through the first level he does a good job of bursting,” Rutgers defensive lineman David Milewski said. “If you’re able to slow him down before he gets to that, then you can do a good job of holding him up. If he finds a gap, he puts his foot in the ground and gets upfield faster than a lot of backs.”
Abdullah moved from fourth to second on the Big Ten’s career all-purpose yards list. His 6,604 yards are 825 behind the 7,429 by Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne.
Abdullah, who came in as the nation’s third-leading rusher at 146.2 yards a game, averaged 11.8 yards on his 19 carries. He took a snap out of the wildcat formation and caught a couple passes for 26 yards.
Kenny Bell made six catches for 63 yards and became Nebraska’s career leader in receptions with 167.
The Knights generated 160 yards in the first quarter, with 71 coming on Leone Carroo’s catch-and-run for a touchdown.
Desmon Peoples and Robert Martin had short touchdown runs for the Knights after the Huskers had broken the game open.
Rutgers, which lost its eighth straight game against a Top 25 opponent, played the first half without wide receivers Janarion Grant and Andre Patton, who were suspended for violating team rules.
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