October 21, 2014

Ameer Abdullah continues to carry the load for Nebraska, which returned from a bye week with a convincing win last weekend.

He could be in for another big game against a Rutgers team that's struggled to stop the run.

The No. 16 Cornhuskers try to stay unbeaten at home when they face the Scarlet Knights on Saturday.

After Abdullah was held to a season-low 45 yards on 24 attempts in a 27-22 loss at then-No. 10 Michigan State on Oct. 4, he appeared refreshed after a week off in last Saturday's 38-17 victory at Northwestern. The senior standout carried the ball 23 times for 146 yards and scored four one-yard touchdowns, giving him a conference-best 14 rushing TDs.

Abdullah became the first Cornhuskers back to record three 1,000-yard campaigns. He surpassed Ahman Green for second on the school's all-time rushing list with 4,001 yards and now trails only Mike Rozier (4,780).

"It doesn't mean anything if we don't win the rest of these games," he said.

Nebraska (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) has to like its chances of doing just that if Abdullah keeps it up. The Cornhuskers are 19-3 since the start of 2012 when he rushes for at least 100 yards.

"Ameer has high standards for himself, but at the end of the day he wants to win football games," coach Bo Pelini said of Abdullah, averaging 146.3 rushing yards to rank fourth in the FBS. "That's why he came back. That's who he is. If he ran for 20 yards and we won a football game, he wouldn't blink an eye."

Abdullah would appear to have a very favorable matchup against Rutgers (5-2, 1-2), which has allowed 201.3 rushing yards per game in its last four. The Scarlet Knights were gashed for 324 yards on the ground - their most allowed since 2004 - in last Saturday's 56-17 loss at No. 13 Ohio State.

"We've faced some good running backs but I don't think we've seen a back with the full package like Abdullah," Rutgers defensive end David Milewski told the school's official website. "He can catch, he can block, he can run. He can do everything you want a back to do. He's an every down back. It's a high bar he sets but as a player that's the kind of challenge you want."

The Scarlet Knights had won three in a row before getting blown out by the Buckeyes. They were outgained 585-345 in total offense in their first Big Ten road game.

Desmon Peoples was a bright spot with 83 rushing yards and two scores on 15 carries. Gary Nova, though, had 192 yards passing a game after having 404 against Michigan and threw his eighth interception - tied for the most in the conference - while being sacked a season-high four times.

"What I want to see is these guys turn the page," coach Kyle Flood said. "I want to see guys own their mistakes, understand that we all need to get better, coaches and players alike, and then I want to see guys move forward."

Doing so won't be easy in Lincoln, where the Huskers have outscored opponents by an average of 24.0 points in opening 4-0. They have won 16 of their last 17 home games against unranked foes.

"It's an exciting weekend for us - exciting week for us I should say with a tremendous opponent on Saturday, a tremendous challenge to go on the road to what I think is probably one of the great venues for college football," Flood said. "Out there at Nebraska they've got a tremendous string of sellouts. I'm sure this will be another one and a hostile environment."

While Rutgers has gone 4-0 in non-conference play behind Nova's passer rating of 209.2, he's compiled a 121.7 mark in league action with three TDs and six picks.

The Scarlet Knights have dropped seven in a row against ranked opponents, including their last three by an average of 25.3 points.

Nebraska beat Rutgers 28-0 at the New York Polo Grounds in 1920 in the only previous meeting between these schools. The 94-year gap in the series is the longest for the Huskers against any opponent.

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