Reggie Corbin

Reggie Corbin brushed off Cam Taylor-Britt with a stiff arm and coasted to the end zone for a quick-strike, 66-yard touchdown. It was a jolt Illinois needed and rode for much of the game.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Nebraska’s defensive coaches had touted Illinois running back Reggie Corbin all week to the media, comparing him with the best in the Big Ten.

On his second run of NU’s 42-38 win over the Illini, Corbin showed why the Huskers were wary.

Running through a good hole and past safety Marquel Dismuke, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Corbin bolted into the secondary, meeting Husker safety Cam Taylor-Britt at the NU 35. Corbin brushed off Taylor-Britt with a stiff arm and coasted to the end zone for a quick-strike, 66-yard touchdown. It was a jolt Illinois needed and rode for much of the game.

“We missed a tackle on a long run,” NU coach Scott Frost said.

Corbin gave the Huskers trouble all night, finishing with 134 yards on 20 carries. A Nebraska run defense that entered the game allowing 2.18 yards per carry and 88 yards per game was on its heels as much as it was on its toes. The Illini’s 127 first-half rushing yards eclipsed any total NU had allowed for an entire game so far this season. And Illinois did it with a quarterback, Brandon Peters, about as mobile as a left guard.

Illinois’ oft-maligned offensive line — that managed just 130 rushing yards at moribund Connecticut — was able to turn and push NU’s defensive line consistently enough that Husker linebackers were often hemmed in traffic when Corbin bounced a run to the edge. For every good play — inside linebacker Will Honas swallowing up Wildcat quarterback Isaiah Williams on a keep, a well-executed defense of a speed option by safety Eli Sullivan — Illinois was able to pop a run that broke outside the hash marks.

And that was in the first half.

In the second half, Nebraska’s run defense was immediately on skates.

Against Nebraska’s No. 2 defensive line — Damion Daniels, Deontre Thomas and Ben Stille — the Illini shoved their first drive of the third quarter right down NU’s throat. Six plays, 78 yards. Five runs, 61 yards. Dre Brown, gashing through the middle of the field for a 36-yard touchdown.

That gave Illinois a 28-14 lead.

“Seemed like stretch or mid-zone was the play they were getting us with and getting the edge,” Frost said. “That’s not how I wanted the third quarter to start.”

As the game wore on, the Illini started hitting more runs in the middle of the field. Corbin was bound for a big chunk when nose tackle Darrion Daniels reached out his paw and grabbed Corbin’s facemask. That was 15 yards. But it was effective in slowing the Illini’s primary weapon.

Get a daily Husker news roundup, recruiting updates and breaking news in your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.