CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Adrian Martinez passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns to lead Nebraska over Illinois 42-38 Saturday night in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams.
The Cornhuskers (3-1, 1-0) put up 690 yards of total offense compared to 299 by Illinois (2-2, 0-1).
Martinez also rushed 18 times for 188 yards. Wan'Dale Robinson carried the ball 19 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. Dedrick Mills rushed 12 times for 62 yards and a touchdown.
"He (Martinez) is a good player. I'm glad he wears the scarlet and cream," said Nebraska coach Scott Frost. "He goes in and wants to take over a game. He is clearly capable of that."
Brandon Peters was 9 of 22 for 78 yards passing with a touchdown and one interception for Illinois. Reggie Corbin carried the ball 20 times for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Ra'Von Bonner and Peters also had rushing touchdowns for the Illini.
Illinois took advantage of several Nebraska miscues early and led 21-14 at the half. Perhaps the biggest Cornhusker mistake was a fumble by Mills early in the second quarter at the Illinois 2-yard line after being pinned there by a 53-yard punt by the Illini's Blake Hayes.
Corbin carried the ball in on the next play, giving Illinois a 21-7 lead at that point. Corbin carried the ball ten times for 91 yards in the first half.
"We can't spot teams advantages like that," Frost said. "We turned the ball over too many times and made too many mistakes. We just can't do that."
Nebraska tied the game at 35-35 on the first series of the fourth quarter on Mills' touchdown run and a 2-point conversion run by Martinez.
"We had a chance to win the game on that final drive," Illinois coach Lovie Smith said. "What else is there to say? They rushed us well and didn't let us get our passes off."
Smith said he and his coaching staff will "look at everything" during the upcoming bye week.
"We'll look at what we need to do going forward," he said. "But are we going to make wholesale changes? No."
It was an entertaining game that either team could have won. But Nebraska was able to overcome numerous mistakes to take control in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska: Hosts Ohio State next Saturday.
Illinois: Travels to Minnesota on Oct 5.
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