- Mitch Sherman, ESPN Staff Writer
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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Top performers from Nebraska's 39-19 victory on Saturday over Illinois to open Big Ten play:
IB Ameer Abdullah: The offensive star of Saturday for Nebraska. Sure, Tommy Armstrong Jr. is captivating the fans with his poise, but Adbullah was the workhorse on a great afternoon for running the football. The junior gained a career-best 225 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns. He set the tone with a 30-yard scamper on the opening drive, and his 43-yard cutback for a TD in the third quarter goes directly into the highlight file.
CB Ciante Evans: The Huskers' most heralded defender before the season, the senior co-captain produced three huge plays at key moments. First, he stripped running back Donovonn Young after a 21-yard gain to the Nebraska 31-yard line in the opening quarter. LeRoy Alexander recovered for Nebraska. Evans sacked Nathan Scheelhaase on third and goal later in the first half to force a field goal. The returning All Big Ten defender later forced an interception with a quarterback hurry.
DE Jason Ankrah: The senior started 22 games over the past three seasons before Saturday but never enjoyed a game like this -- with a sack, another tackle for loss and an interception forced by the corner blitz of Evans. Ankrah made just those two tackles, but he was part of an invigorated Nebraska pass rush that harassed Scheelhaase early and often. Ankrah's sack, the fourth of his career, helped kill a promising drive in the first quarter after the Huskers built a 14-0 lead.