LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Tommy Armstrong Jr. ran for two touchdowns and threw a perfect deep ball to Alonzo Moore for another, and Nebraska pulled away in the second half to defeat Fresno State 43-10 on Saturday night for Mike Riley’s 100th win as a college coach.
The Cornhuskers pounded away at the Bulldogs with runs on 51 of their 64 plays, and Devine Ozigbo ran for a career-high 103 yards and two touchdowns. The biggest of Armstrong’s few passes came two plays after Kieron Williams’ first career interception, when Moore beat his man to catch in stride a 57-yard TD early in the fourth quarter.
Armstrong’s second-half TD runs of 9 and 4 yards helped the Huskers turn a 14-10 halftime lead into a blowout.
Fresno State’s Chason Virgil, who missed the last nine games in 2015 with a broken clavicle, completed his first five passes and 11 of his first 14. The Bulldogs got a scare when he banged up his left shoulder late in the first half after being driven out of bounds by linebacker Luke Gifford, who was ejected for targeting.
Virgil returned to start the third quarter but didn’t get much done the rest of the night against a Nebraska defense that got better as the game went on.
Fresno State was without receiver Da’Mari Scott, who was suspended for the game because of an NCAA eligibility issue, an FSU spokesman said.
The Huskers remembered punter Sam Foltz, who died in a car crash in July. When they lined up in punt formation after going three-and-out on their first series, they lined up with 10 players and no punter, and the crowd responded with loud cheers and applause. When they were flagged for delay of game after the play clock expired, Fresno State declined the delay-of-game penalty.
The Huskers also had Foltz’s No. 27 jersey draped over the end of their bench.
Fresno State: The Bulldogs, coming off a 3-9 season, hung with Nebraska for a half and should be improved if they can keep Virgil healthy for new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau.
They capitalized on Robert Stanley’s blocked punt and a couple Nebraska penalties, and that allowed them to keep it close until the third quarter. First-year defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward can take consolation in that it’s unlikely his unit will go against another opponent that runs the ball as well as Nebraska.
Nebraska: The game plan was perfect against an opponent that ranked 117th against the run last year, and once Armstrong and the Huskers got going in the second half, they were nearly unstoppable. Nebraska, which finished with 292 yards on the ground, ran on 20 of its first 21 plays, and Riley made good on his plan to get Armstrong more carries.
Ozigbo and Terrell Newby formed a strong 1-2 combination, and freshman Tre Bryant showed up well when he got his chances late in the game. The Huskers need more discipline. They had three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in addition to an ejection for targeting for a third straight game.
Fresno State: The Bulldogs go from playing in one of the cathedrals of college football to hosting Sacramento State. DeRuyter’s Fresno teams have beaten Football Championship Subdivision opponents by an average of 26 points.
Nebraska: The Huskers host Wyoming, coached by former Nebraska assistant Craig Bohl. This is no gimme. The last time the teams met, in 2013 in Lincoln, the Cowboys scored a couple late touchdowns and put a scare into the Huskers before losing 37-34.