COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Nebraska’s bowl hopes are still alive.
The Huskers rolled through Maryland on Saturday night in the cold and rain, winning their fifth game of the year 54-7.
The win is Nebraska’s largest margin of victory over a conference foe since a 59-0 win over Baylor in 2000.
Without two starting wide receivers, Nebraska’s offense had little issue finding the end zone thanks to 194 passing yards from Adrian Martinez and 305 team rushing yards. Dedrick Mills ran 12 times for 65 yards and one score. Martinez added 94 on the ground and a touchdown. JD Spielman caught seven passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. He moved into third place on Nebraska’s all-time receiving yard list.
The Nebraska defense held up its end of the bargain Saturday, forcing four fumbles, sacking four different Maryland quarterbacks a season-high six times and racking up six tackles for loss. Maryland ran just two plays on Nebraska’s side of the field.
NU notched its first win in more than a month and is now 5-6 on the season. They'll host 8-3 Iowa on Black Friday with bowl eligibility on the line. Saturday marked the first time Nebraska has won a fifth football game since October of the 2016 season.
The Nebraska rout began early after Maryland running back Javon Leake fumbled his first carry after a perfect helmet-to-football hit from Dicaprio Bootle.
Mills took two handoffs 13 yards and rolled in from six for a quick 7-0 lead.
A personal foul on Maryland during Isaac Armstrong’s second punt saved NU’s next drive, pushing the ball to the Maryland 45. On third-and-goal from the 1, Martinez ran for a 14-0 lead.
Leake botched the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by Colin Miller at the Nebraska 22. Nebraska’s third red-zone drive of the first quarter ended in a 29-yard field goal from walk-on Matt Waldoch, who began this season on the men’s club soccer team. Waldoch made three field goals on the day, all from 29 yards. He played in place of kicker Barret Pickering, who didn’t make the trip. Nebraska was also without freshman receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and senior receiver Kanawai Noa.
Nebraska out-gained Maryland 162-49 in the first quarter with 11 total first downs, 10.8 yards per completion and 10:52 time of possession. That first drive of the second quarter finished off with a bad throw from Martinez into double coverage that tipped off of two Maryland defenders' hands, then fell into the lap of Spielman to take a 24-0 lead.
Quarterback Luke McCaffrey made an appearance at receiver on the next possession, and threw a pass to Spielman on a reverse to move the chains 28 yards. But at the 4-yard-line, Martinez shorted a pass to Jack Stoll which was picked off in the end zone.
Maryland failed to produce points with the extra possession.
A 16-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Spielman and a 29-yarder from Waldoch made it 34-0 at the break.
The second half looked more like a spring game scrimmage than a regular-season game. A 1-yard touchdown run from Rahmir Johnson — the first score of his career — made it 44-0, sending "Go Big Red" chants throughout the mostly empty stadium.
McCaffrey came in to quarterback the fourth quarter. He completed 3 of 5 passes for 32 yards and ran for 83 on 10 carries.
Lincoln Lutheran graduate Harrison Martin hit an 18-yard field goal for 47-0 in the fourth. McCaffrey found the end zone from 3 yards for 54 points.
A 58-yard sprint up the middle from Leake ruined the shut out for 54-7.