Mike Riley did not say precisely when it was, but there was a point in the fourth quarter Saturday, his team having specialized in thievery to surge to a 35-point cushion, that the Husker head coach allowed himself to think about ducks.

He thought about how it's here: Oregon week.

"I did. I did. Absolutely," Riley said. "And the neat thing is the players even said it right after the game in the locker room, how we've got to put it all together."

That game wouldn't mean as much if Nebraska had tripped on the sidewalk crack Saturday and face-planted against Wyoming, but the Huskers did not, finally running away from some stubborn Cowboys and scoring 28 fourth-quarter points and winning 52-17.

Tommy Armstrong threw for 377 yards, the Blackshirts had six takeaways, and NU overcame far too many penalties (seven for 93 yards) and a cringe-worthy Armstrong pick on a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line ("totally unnecessary," Riley said), and two touchdowns negated by flags.

If the cleanliness of it all has left something to be desired, the Huskers have done what they were supposed to do. Played two games. Won two. By an average of 34 points.

Now, let's not go and pretend the week ahead is like every other week. Not for a Husker program that has in recent years been an afterthought in the national conversation.

"It's time to play. It's going to be a big-time game. That's the thing I don't want our team to shy away from. It's a big game next week," said senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, pounding his hands together for emphasis.

"We can't shy away from that. If we want to be what we want to be this year, put it on the table. It's a big game next week. What are we going to do? It's in our house. What are we going to do?"

Certainly the Husker offense has now mixed it up enough in two weeks to leave Oregon wondering exactly what type of run-pass ratio it may see.

A week after running on 51 of 64 plays, the Huskers threw the ball 35 times, accumulating 412 of their 550 yards of offense through the air.

Riley said Craig Bohl's Wyoming team loaded up on blitzes that hurt Nebraska. "We had a hard time finding a run that was good, that we could kind of make an identity run and stick with."

So the Huskers busted the Cowboys through the air, making them pay on screen passes, and the occasional long strike: a 63-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Moore and a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Westerkamp among them.

The TD to Westerkamp loomed as large as any. The senior receiver's diving catch in tight coverage gave the Huskers a 31-17 lead with 13:11 to play.

Just 12 seconds later, after a Wyoming botched backward pass that was picked up by Nebraska's Ross Dzuris and returned to the 1, the Huskers were in the end zone again.

Fans exhaled and enjoyed the day's brilliant weather. The Blackshirts? They got greedy, picking off three more passes in that final frame, to give them six takeaways for the game.

"It's always fun to say, 'You have an interception, now I want one,'" said junior safety Kieron Williams, who got his interception off a deflected pass in the third quarter that he returned 23 yards for a touchdown.

Nate Gerry had two picks. Chris Jones had a pick. Aaron Williams and Kieron Williams had a pick.

"It's almost kind of, I don't want to say funny, but it just keeps happening, it just keeps happening. It's a good feeling," said senior linebacker Josh Banderas.

Nebraska has eight takeaways after two games. It had 15 takeaways in 13 games last year.

Wyoming's young quarterback, Josh Allen, started strong, but finished with a whimper, completing just 6 of 16 passes in the second half for 55 yards.

Jones said he felt Nebraska's defense got in his head. "I feel like we did a lot. We got that (Kieron Williams) pick and then he was just throwing it all over the place."

Like last week against Fresno State, the Huskers struggled for three quarters to separate themselves from their foe. In the first three quarters this year, NU has outscored the opponent 45-27. In the fourth quarter, the Huskers have a 50-0 advantage.

Banderas admitted it'd be better if the Huskers hit the ground running a little quicker, but he also makes it clear it just feels different in that locker room right now than it did last fall as NU stumbled through a 6-7 season.

"It's just so much better of a flow and a machine than last year," he said.

Even with that, Riley still doesn't like the penalties his team has racked up, and if things aren't cleaned up, he was blunt in saying Nebraska won't beat Oregon.

"You are not going to make dumb plays and win big games," he said.

That's what is coming next week. A big game. Oregon Ducks. Their flashy uniforms. A national TV audience on a weekend with maybe more marque matchups than any other this season.

"The one thing about it that you all know, being around here, the more you win, the more exciting the next game gets," Riley said. "Of course, this one being who they are and what they mean nationally and where we want to go, this is exciting."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.