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

and emotional.

”Not that I knew there was anything wrong with him,” Papuchis

said. ”He was just a little bit less vocal than he normally

is.”

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

Beck.

”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,”

Compton said.

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

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

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

sideline.

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

Bell.

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

recent days.

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.”