LINCOLN, Neb. -- If Nebraska gained anything from its 73-7 victory over Idaho State, it was the assurance that running back Rex Burkhead will be ready when Big Ten play starts against Wisconsin.
Burkhead, playing for the first time since he sprained his left knee in the opener, ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as the No. 25 Cornhuskers made quick work of the Football Championship Subdivision-level Bengals.
"It felt good just to get back out there in a game atmosphere, being out on the field with my teammates," Burkhead said. "It was fun, just running around, getting more comfortable with the knee. You get comfortable in practices and stuff but it's never the same as in a game when you're getting tackled."
Burkhead, who wore a knee brace, said he felt 90 percent. No one would have been able to tell the All-Big Ten back was anything less than full speed when he broke a career-long 61-yard touchdown run on his third carry.
Going into the game, the coaching staff planned to get Burkhead 10-15 touches. He ended up with eight carries, and he caught one pass for 25 yards.
"He blocked and he caught the ball and he ran and he ran recklessly," running backs coach Ron Brown said. "He didn't look tentative at all. It was a good start for him. It would have been nice for him to get a few more carries. The way the game was going, and all the yards he had, I thought that was enough."
The game got out of hand early. The Cornhuskers (3-1) led 35-0 after the first quarter and 45-0 at half.
Their 73 points were the most since they hung the same number on Kansas State in 2007.
Coach Bo Pelini said a team doesn't find out a lot about itself when it plays against such an overmatched opponent.
"I said to the team last night, 'We'll find out how mature we are as a football team,' " Pelini said. "How were they going to approach the game? Were we going to go out there and do what we're capable of doing, regardless of who the opponent was? I thought we did that early on. It's really easy to have a letdown or look ahead, but it's first things first. You have to have respect for the game and how you play it. I thought our guys did that."
Pelini was back on the sideline after missing the second half of last week's win over Arkansas State because of illness. He complained of heartburn and disorientation and was taken by ambulance to a hospital for tests. A series of tests were negative, and he was back at work the next day.
Idaho State (1-2) has lost 34 straight road games and 46 of its last 52 games overall. The Bengals earned a $600,000 guarantee for playing the game, or 5 percent of their $12 million athletic budget.
Idaho State coach Mike Kramer said Nebraska's offense did nothing unexpected.
"Eleven guys got blocked on almost every single play," he said. "Excuse me, 10 guys got blocked on every play and the 11th guy didn't make the tackle."
Nebraska also got touchdowns on Ciante Evans' 29-yard interception return and Ameer Abdullah's 81-yard punt return, making it the first time since the 2009 game against Colorado that the Huskers scored on offense, defense and special teams.
Idaho State's score came on CJ Reyes' 28-yard pass to Luke Austin in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska rushed for 385 of its 569 total yards.
"I was mad," a smiling Martinez said about sitting out the second half, "but happy that a bunch of players got to play."
Freshman Imani Cross had 100 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, all in the second half.
Idaho State had 210 total yards, all but 72 coming in the second half against Nebraska's defensive reserves. Kevin Yost was 16 of 34 for 123 yards, with two interceptions. He was sacked six times.
Nebraska's 45 points in the first half were its most since scoring 52 against Baylor in the first half in 2000.
Martinez completed 9 of 13 passes and moved into fifth place on Nebraska's career passing list with 4,598 yards, overtaking 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.
With his 12th career 100-yard game, Burkhead went from 11th to seventh on the Huskers' career rushing list with 2,841 yards.
Burkhead said he plans to be 100 percent against Wisconsin.
"Another week will hopefully help that out," he said. "The trainers have done a tremendous job allowing me to play up to this point. Hopefully I'll get back in that training room and feel even better next week."
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