Huskers' Lucky punishes Nevada, rolls up 233 rushing yards

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- It was like old times at Nebraska on Saturday.

The 20th-ranked Cornhuskers ran over an overmatched opponent the way they did in the days of their triple-option offense, with Marlon Lucky rushing for career-high 233 yards in a 52-10 victory over Nevada.

"We saw a weakness in their defense," Lucky said, "and coach wanted to pound the ball."

Coach Bill Callahan's West Coast offense amassed 413 of its 625 yards on the ground. The rushing output was the most since the Huskers ran for 444 against McNeese State in 2002. The total yards were the most since Nebraska racked up 688 against Baylor in 2001.

Lucky, who ran for three touchdowns and caught a pass for another score, upstaged the debut of quarterback Sam Keller. Keller was happy to defer.

"We found out early that we could jam it right down there through the middle," Keller said. "It was a beautiful thing to see."

The Huskers, who won their 22nd straight season opener (best in the nation), led 21-10 at the half and broke open the game with three touchdowns and a field goal in the third quarter.

Lucky, whose previous high was 156 yards against Troy last year, had spent a week hospitalized for undisclosed reasons in the offseason, and he missed several days of preseason practice because of a concussion.

"It felt good to do this after what I've gone through," he said.

Lucky turned in the biggest rushing performance for Nebraska since Jammal Lord ran for 234 against Texas in 2002. Lucky didn't play after the third quarter. He carried 30 times and also caught three passes for 33 yards.

"We just kept running him," Callahan said. "It's good early in the year to get your running game going. It's important to establish your rhythm and timing."

Keller, who transferred from Arizona State, was sharp in his first game since October 2005. He completed 14-of-25 passes for 193 yards, including a 16-yarder to Lucky for the Huskers' first touchdown.

Keller completed 7-of-9 passes after halftime.

About the only blemish on Keller's day was a tipped pass that Nevada's Jonathon Amaya returned 80 yards for a touchdown, putting the Wolf Pack up 10-7 in the second quarter.

"It was just one touchdown, and that's not going to win the game," Amaya said. "It's a stat. We'd have felt a lot better if we'd done something with it."

Callahan said it was critical for Nebraska to come back and score.

"We all saw what happened up in Ann Arbor, and we certainly didn't want to see that happening today here," Callahan said, referring to Appalachian State's upset of Michigan. "Sometimes you need a little spark like that to get you going. That certainly stepped up the urgency on our part on offense."

Cortney Grixby's 42-yard kickoff return set up the Huskers at the Nevada 39, and they ran nine straight times, with Lucky scoring from the 1 for a 14-10 lead.

Nevada went three-and-out, and Nebraska ran on eight of the next nine plays, with freshman Quentin Castille's 1-yard run making it 21-10.

Nevada coach Chris Ault said Grixby's long kick return seemed to break his team's spirit.

"When you talk about momentum-burners, that was it," Ault said. "You feel pretty good about yourselves, and then they return the ball. It just swung that momentum."

Lucky's touchdown runs of 17 and 3 yards on Nebraska's first two series of the third quarter stretched it to 35-10, and Castille ran in from 2 yards to make it 45-10 entering the fourth.

Castille finished with 78 yards on 18 carries.

Nebraska shut down Nevada's offense for a long stretch. The Wolf Pack had 72 of their 185 yards in the first quarter.

But after the Huskers took the lead in the second quarter, the Wolf Pack's pistol offense, which has the quarterback in a mini-shotgun and a tailback behind him -- totaled 27 yards on 13 plays over four possessions. By the end of that spell, Nebraska led by 25 points.

Nick Graziano, making his first start, started to get the Wolf Pack moving in the middle of the third, but Kevin Dixon intercepted him at the Nebraska 43.

Graziano was 8-of-24 for 109 yards, and he had a team-leading 29 yards rushing.

"It was a good feeling running it right down their throat," Nebraska left tackle Carl Nicks said. "We killed their will."