LINCOLN, Neb. • Taylor Martinez threw for a career-high 354 yards and matched his high with five touchdown passes to lead No. 17 Nebraska to a 49-20 victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday.
The Huskers won their nation-leading 27th straight opener.
Nebraska played the last three quarters without Rex Burkhead. The 1,300-yard rusher last season went out with a sprained ligament in his left knee after opening the scoring with a career-long 57-yard run.
Backup Ameer Abdullah ran 15 times for 81 yards and made an acrobatic catch for an 11-yard TD.
Southern Miss backup quarterback Anthony Alford carried 15 times for 84 yards in his first college game.
The Golden Eagles, who were led by first-year coach Ellis Johnson, scored their first touchdown on Tracy Lampley's 100-yard kickoff return. They tied it 14-14 on first-time starter Chris Campbell's 24-yard pass to Dominique Sullivan.
Nebraska's go-ahead TD came on Martinez's 9-yard pass to Jake Long.
Nebraska has scored 40 or more points in seven straight openers, and all but one of the wins during its streak has been by double digits.
The Eagles left with a 21-17 victory the last time Southern Miss came to Lincoln (2004). There was no threat of that happening Saturday.
Martinez came out and showed the result of his offseason work on his passing mechanics. He said his goal was to complete 70 percent of his attempts, and he went out and hit on 26 of 34 attempts (76 percent).
Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck had said throughout fall camp that all signs pointed to his charges being more comfortable in the second year of his spread-option system.
The Huskers looked comfortable and confident early, not to mention dominant. They amassed 205 of their 632 yards on their first three series with a 50-50 run-pass mix. Nebraska hadn't topped 600 yards since 2008 against Kansas State.
Martinez had starred as a runner in his previous two openers, combining for 262 yards and six touchdowns on 26 carries.
Beck didn't ask him to run much against the Eagles. But the junior threw, usually on target.
He completed five straight short passes to start, then missed on a throw to Kenny Bell that Deron Wilson nearly intercepted. That was one of Martinez's few mistakes. In fact, he lofted a beauty of a pass to Bell for a touchdown on the next play.