Burkhead runs wild on Spartans

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Rex Burkhead breaks free to score a second-half touchdown.

Story by Dylan Guenther and photo by Morgan Spiehs, NewsNetNebraska

Rex Burkhead has been the Huskers’ workhorse on offense all year, and it was no different in their 24-3 win against the No. 9 Michigan State Saturday.

Burkhead rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 35 carries to go along with a 27-yard touchdown grab against the Spartans. He ended the game just two carries shy of the Nebraska single-game record of 37 set by Cory Ross in the 2003 Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.

Burkhead has found the end zone in each game this year and now has 882 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns.

“He’s an amazing player,” quarterback Taylor Martinez said. “He does that week in and week out, and I’m glad he’s on our team.”

The Huskers came into the game leading the Big Ten in rushing while the Spartans came in with the Big Ten’s best rushing defense. The Spartan defense was only giving up 88.9 yards per game on the ground while the Huskers were averaging 261 yards rushing per game.

The Huskers, though, had success running right at the Spartans all afternoon with Burkhead as they racked up 190 yards on the ground.

“We knew they were going to be tough up front, and we just have that determination and drive to get the job done,” Burkhead said.

Toward the end of the third quarter, Burkhead took a handoff around the right side and went down to the turf with an injury. After being helped off the field to a standing ovation, Burkhead sat out only one play with a calf cramp.

“I was pretty relieved, let’s put it that way,” NU coach Bo Pelini said about Burkhead’s injury not being serious.

On his first play back in the game, Burkhead ran a wheel route on a play-action fake by quarterback Taylor Martinez and connected for a 27-yard touchdown strike to seal the Huskers’ 24-3 victory.

“The guy’s a warrior,” Pelini said. “Rex, unless he’s on crutches, is going to be out there. He’s going to be out there fighting.”