HATTIESBURG, Miss. Here's a switch. Nebraska went to the air when it needed to put away Southern Mississippi.
Jammal Lord threw two long touchdowns less than two minutes apart in the third quarter and the 15th-ranked Cornhuskers surprised Southern Miss with its passing game in a 38-14 victory Thursday night.
They were Nebraska's first two TD passes of the season.
Lord was 6-for-14 for a season-high 124 yards and no interceptions. He also ran for a score.
''It was obvious to us we wanted to get the passing game going. We wanted to make some big plays in the passing game,'' Cornhuskers coach Frank Solich said.
Playing in front of a record home crowd of 36,125, the Golden Eagles never gave themselves a chance to pull the upset. Southern Miss (2-2) committed five turnovers and the Cornhuskers (4-0) turned the first three into touchdowns.
Lord took plenty of criticism for his ineffective passing as the Cornhuskers went 7-7 last season, their worst record in 40 years. And Nebraska had all but abandoned the forward pass in its first three games this season, throwing it an average of 13 times a game.
The Cornhuskers threw six passes in beating Penn State 18-10 in their last game.
But when the Huskers needed a big play to regain momentum against Southern Miss, they went to the air.
Southern Miss was fooled badly on a play-action fake by Lord and let Ross Pilkington run free down the middle. Lord hit Pilkington in stride for a 44-yard score that made it 24-7 with 9:51 left in the third.
After Southern Miss fumbled away a snap, Lord went deep again.
This time he hit Isaiah Fluellen right between the numbers for a 43-yard score to make it 31-7 with 7:59 to go in the third.
''We were in straight man coverage and we didn't cover them. That wasn't very smart,'' Bower said.
The Cornhuskers ran for 141 yards, less than half of what they had been averaging per game.
''They were committing to the run, that was obvious,'' Solich said. ''We did try to run it enough to where when the big play opportunity came in the pass we were able to get it done.''
Nebraska's top-ranked defense, led by linebacker Demorrio Williams, smothered the punchless Golden Eagles. Williams had 10 tackles, a sack and recovered a fumble.
Southern Miss, which was averaging 14 points a game coming in, managed just 144 yards, eight first downs and one score against Nebraska's starters.
Quarterback Dustin Almond was awful, making his first start of the season in place of injured starter Micky D'Angelo.
Almond was 4-of-24 for 68 yards with two interceptions and two fumbled snaps. He was replaced in the fourth quarter by promising freshman Damion Carter, who delighted the crowd with a strong performance against mostly backups.
Carter completed his first six passes and finished 14-for-17 for 143 yards and a touchdown.
It would have been hard to imagine a worse start to the game for the 10-point underdog Golden Eagles.
Nebraska led 17-0 in the first quarter as the Golden Eagles bumbled and stumbled through the first eight minutes.
The Golden Eagles turned it over twice, shanked a punt and set the Cornhuskers up in Southern Miss territory on their first three drives.
Almond fumbled the snap on the fifth play from scrimmage and Nebraska recovered at the Golden Eagles 29.
The Cornhuskers needed just four running plays and the help of a late hit by Southern Miss to take the lead.
Lord went around left end for a touchdown to make it 7-0 less than four minutes into the game.
Josh Bullocks' interception and 41-yard return set up a 3-yard touchdown run by David Horne that put Nebraska up 17 with 7:12 left in the first quarter.
Special teams got the Golden Eagles back in the game just before halftime.
Marvin Young, who returned a punt 87 yards for a TD in his last game, broke free for a 37-yard return late that set up a 1-yard TD run by Timmy Blackwell to make it 17-7.
Nebraska won away from Lincoln for just the second time in the last nine games.
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