Nebraska built a 23-3 lead and then withstood a safety and good Illinois field position to take a 23-5 lead to halftime.
The Huskers put together a 10-play, 71-yard drive for their 23-3 advantage. Imani Cross scored the touchdown on a 2-yard run with 4:18 left in the second quarter.
Cross was tackled for a safety on the Huskers’ next series, pulling Illinois within 23-5 with 1:44 to go.
After taking over on their own 47, however, the Illini went three-and-out and had to punt right back to NU, which ran out the clock.
Some other halftime updates from Memorial Stadium:
>> Pat Smith missed the extra point after the Huskers’ third TD, the second failed PAT for NU this season.
>> Illinois had a 14-play offensive possession in the second quarter but settled for a 38-yard field goal by Taylor Zalewski. The Illini went backwards after having first-and-goal at the 6, including a third-down sack by Ciante Evans on a Husker blitz.
>> Nebraska got pushed back before the safety because of a block in the back by Wil Richards on a punt return. Illinois then downed a punt at the Husker 1-yard line on the next series.
>> Illinois had 13 plays of 9 or more yards on its first four offensive series.
>> NU I-back Ameer Abdullah finished the first half with 81 yards on nine rushes. The junior ran for at least 98 yards in each of the Huskers’ first four games.
>> Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown had 11 tackles in the first half. Jared Afalava led NU with six, including four unassisted stops.