LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Adrian Martinez ran for a career-best three touchdowns and passed for another, and Nebraska broke big play after big play while putting away Northwestern early in a 56-7 win Saturday night.
The Cornhuskers (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) were sharp from the get-go and dominated a matchup that usually has produced close games. Eight of the previous 10 in the series were decided by eight points or less.
It was the Huskers' most lopsided win in a Big Ten game since they joined the conference in 2011.
For Northwestern (2-3, 0-2), the losing margin matched the second largest in Pat Fitzgerald's 16 years as coach.
Martinez connected with Samori Toure for a 70-yard pass on the game's first play from scrimmage — a sign of things to come — and the Huskers went into halftime with a 35-7 lead.
Zavier Betts opened the second half with an 83-yard touchdown run down the sideline, and Martinez hit Toure in stride for a 38-yard score to make it 49-7.
The Huskers had seven plays go for at least 20 yards and their 657 yards were their most in two years. Their 427 rushing yards were their most since they ran for 458 against Illinois in 2014.
Martinez ran for 58 yards and had TD runs of 1, 1 and 25 yards and completed 11 of 17 passes for 202 yards.
Jaquez Yant had 109 of his 127 yards rushing in the first half, including a 64-yard burst. Yant, the No. 4 running back, entered the game with five carries for 25 yards.
Northwestern all but abandoned the run game after falling behind. Evan Hull, who ran for 216 yards against Ohio last week, had 31 on seven carries.
Ryan Hilinski was 25 of 39 for 256 yards and a touchdown.
Northwestern drove to the 1 in the second quarter with a chance to pull within two touchdowns, but linebacker JoJo Domann barged through to knock the ball loose from Hilinski and Deontre Thomas recovered for the Huskers.
The Wildcats didn't sniff the end zone again.
Northwestern: This reinforced the point that this isn't one of Pat Fitzgerald's vintage teams. The defending Big Ten West champion's only wins are against lower-tier Indiana State and one-win Ohio. The Wildcats' pattern is to improve as the year progresses. It's mid-season, and they have a long way to go on both sides of the ball.
Nebraska: The Huskers worked off some pent-up frustration after melting down on special teams at Michigan State last week. William Przystup's 84-yard punt in the third quarter symbolized how well things went against Northwestern. His previous punt, against Michigan State, was a 7-yard shank.
Northwestern hosts Rutgers on Oct. 16.
Nebraska hosts Michigan on Saturday.
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