CHAMPAIGN — 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.
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.
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Corbin carried the ball in on the next play, giving Illinois a 21-7 lead at that point. Corbin carried the ball 10 times for 91 yards in the first half.
But Nebraska tied the game at 35-35 on the first series of the fourth quarter on Mills' touchdown run and a two-point conversion run by Martinez.
THE TAKEAWAY: 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.
UP NEXT: Nebraska: Hosts Ohio State next Saturday.
Illinois: Travels to Minnesota on Oct 5.