Nebraska 42, Arkansas St. 13
Bo Pelini wasn’t acting like himself on the sideline Saturday,
and defensive coordinator John Papuchis could tell something wasn’t
quite right with the Nebraska head coach known for being effusive
”Not that I knew there was anything wrong with him,” Papuchis
said. ”He was just a little bit less vocal than he normally
Pelini was taken by ambulance to a hospital while his
Cornhuskers were in the middle of a 42-13 victory over Arkansas
State. He said in a statement released through the athletic
department that he underwent precautionary tests that ”checked out
just fine” and that he planned to work Sunday. Nebraska spokesman
Keith Mann said Pelini was out of the hospital Saturday night.
When Pelini gets around to watching the film of what he missed,
he’ll like what he sees.
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.
”I’m proud of our team and coaching staff for the way they
responded this afternoon,” Pelini said in his statement.
The 44-year-old Pelini 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.
There was no word on the nature of Pelini’s symptoms.
Papuchis led the team onto the field for the third quarter and
shared head coaching duties with offensive coordinator Tim
”Bo is as close to me as anybody,” Papuchis said, ”so my
initial reaction was more as a friend than business colleague. I
had to compose myself for a second because of my concern for his
well-being. At the end of the day he would want nothing other than
for us to go out and perform as well as we possibly could, so you
have to pull together and go to work.”
Linebacker Will Compton said there was a subdued mood in the
locker room when Papuchis and Beck told the team that Pelini was
heading to the hospital.
”We did it for him out there, we did it for each other,”
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 mixed three-man and four-man defensive fronts 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
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
Martinez’s fumble in the end zone in the third quarter.
It was a far cry from a performance in which Nebraska defenders
missed upward of two dozen tackles against UCLA.
”We were embarrassed,” Compton said. ”We said we’d bounce
back and it would be on us to get that corrected. We have to keep
doing that moving forward. We can’t take a break now and say we’re
good tacklers. We have to keep building off that.”
Martinez was 13 of 14 for 180 yards and ran 18 yards for the
Huskers’ final touchdown.
Ryan Aplin was 16 of 30 for 138 yards – the first time in five
games he’s thrown for under 300 – and was sacked three times.
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
Abdullah, who carried 30 times, touched the ball on six of eight
plays before he crashed in from the 1.
Martinez followed with touchdown passes of 42 and 25 yards to
Nebraska went 75 yards to score just before half, with Abdullah
running on seven of 10 plays and going 2 yards for the TD.
The Huskers finished with 527 yards, 347 on the ground.
”Here’s what you’ve got to do when you play a group like them:
you have to sell out to stop the run,” Malzahn said. ”You’ve got
to take chances to stop the run. They’re very good. It’s one of the
best offenses in college football.”
Down 28-3 at half, Arkansas State got within 28-10 on Lee’s
fumble recovery in the end zone. The Red Wolves had a chance to
make it closer after officials ruled they recovered a punt that
glanced off Abdullah’s right foot.
Arkansas State netted no yards and three plays and had to settle
for Brian Davis’ 32-yard field goal.
Papuchis said the Huskers learned a lot of life lessons in
First, there was the stunning loss to UCLA. Then starting
defensive lineman Chase Rome quit Tuesday because of a disagreement
over playing time. Then they responded after Pelini went to the
hospital and Arkansas State threatened to tighten the game.
”It’s been a trying and emotional week,” Papuchis said. ”I’m
glad to see the way our team fought today.”