Nebraska hangs 55 points on FAU in season opener

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Wide receiver Lucky Whitehead scored the first (and last) Owl touchdown on a twenty yard pass from quarterback Jaquez Johnson in the first quarter. Whitehead finished with just 40 yards for the game. [ Michelle Friswell | Creative Director ]

Lincoln, Neb. — To bring in funding for the entire Athletics program, financially strapped schools like Florida Atlantic venture all over the country to play games and get paid for it. Bigger schools need wins, smaller schools need money.

Nebraska paid $1 million for today’s matchup versus Florida Atlantic. It briefly looked as if Florida Atlantic would compete. Charlie Partridge and his new team showed flashes of why they are expected to win their fair share of games this season.

After the Nebraska Cornhuskers scored on their first drive, quarterback Jaquez Johnson trotted onto the field and led the FAU offense to do the same.

The Owls had Nebraska reeling initially. They went no-huddle, then they slowed the ball down. They used several different formations. The Cornhuskers, coached by Bo Pelini (brother of former FAU coach Carl Pelini), looked lost.

Receiver Lucky Whitehead scored on a 20 yard pass from Johnson to give the Owls their first touchdown of the year, quieting an otherwise raucous Nebraska crowd.

Then Nebraska locked in. They scored 48 unanswered points, blowing the game open and giving Patridge a loss in the very first matchup of his head coaching career.

The Owls never really found their groove after the first quarter ended. Greg Hankerson came in for starting quarterback Jaquez Johnson, who left the game during the second quarter with a left shoulder injury.

Hankerson couldn’t manage to do much with the offense. On the other side, Nebraska flourished on the ground. Running behind an offensive line that averages 325 pounds, Nebraska wore down a much lighter FAU defensive line on their way to 257 rushing yards by halftime.

The injury issues worsened in the second half. D’Joun Smith, who finished third in the country with seven interceptions last season, left the field in the third quarter with a shoulder injury of his own.

If Johnson, Smith, or both are held out of next week’s matchup with the University of Alabama, the Owls might be particularly shorthanded.

They will head into a similar situation, a road game versus a superior team for the sake of acquiring money that will keep the FAU Athletics programs afloat.

Notes:

  • Greg Joseph is the new FAU kicker — a position that gave the Owls serious trouble last year. The team might be headed for another long year for the special teams unit — Joesph missed a field goal in today’s game.
  • FAU surrendered 494 rushing yards to Nebraska, a brand new (dubious) record.
  • D’Joun Smith left the game in the third quarter with an apparent left shoulder injury. David Lozandier left the game with an ankle injury as well.

Wesley Wright is the Sports Editor of the University Press. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.