Nebraska rush offense vs. Illinois rush defense
Nebraska will be the best rushing team — by some margin — that Illinois has faced this year, and the Illini don't appear to have the personnel to completely match up on an every-down basis. Husker I-back Ameer Abdullah has 625 yards on 6.79 yards per carry. Illinois ranks 83rd nationally in rushing yards per game allowed, but it has faced quite a few rush attempts, too. It's hard to see Huskers not winning this category.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Illinois pass defense
The Huskers' passing game hasn't been consistent — quarterback Tommy Armstrong has completed just 55.3 percent of his passes — but it is explosive. Nebraska has eight passing plays that have gone for at least 30 yards. Illinois hasn't been that leaky, but its secondary has been vulnerable to the short-to-medium throws. If Illinois stacks the box, NU has already shown it will throw the ball deep.
Illinois rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
Nebraska's defense is structurally vulnerable to a consistent power running game, but few offenses are willing to commit to it. Given Illinois ran for 195 yards against NU last year, chances are offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will commit. Backs Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young are a good lightning-and-thunder punch. NU's front four has been stout, but issues linger at linebacker, where David Santos is out for Saturday's game and Josh Banderas is struggling.
Illinois pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
Quarterback Wes Lunt has a strong arm and ample trust in that arm. He also has decent — not great, but decent — wideouts, including two Iowa Western products, Geronimo Allison and Martize Barr. While the Huskers' secondary took a few lumps against Miami, it's still allowing just a 51.6-percent completion rate. And don't forget: Nebraska got two interceptions against Miami. The more a team throws the ball, the more comfortable Nebraska is.
Other than a spotty kickoff return unit, this is the best top-to-bottom special teams start Nebraska has enjoyed since 2011. Sam Foltz is booming punts and De'Mornay Pierson-El is a legit threat to return them for big yards. NU's kickoff coverage was more than solid against Miami even without Mauro Bondi. Illinois has one of the Big Ten best returners (so far) in V'Angelo Bentley, but the Illini have missed 2 of 4 field goal attempts.
It's Homecoming, a late-night start, and alternate-uniform night for Nebraska. Illinois has won just one Big Ten game under Tim Beckman. Since 2012, Illinois has played two road games against ranked teams, getting outscored 97-22.
Key matchup: Coaches: Bill Cubit vs. Bo Pelini/John Papuchis
Western Kentucky and Texas State dropped 34 and 35 points on Illinois, respectively. Illinois is going to give up some points. Nebraska is only in trouble if it can't stop Illinois more than a handful of times. If Cubit calls the game of his life, and NU's defense isn't up the challenge, things could get interesting around midnight.
Illinois should put some points on the board, but Nebraska is the bigger and frankly faster football team between the two. That, coupled with home-field advantage and Illinois' continued rebuilding project, should favor the Huskers.
Our prediction: Nebraska 45, Illinois 24
Big Red Today coverage
Omaha Skutt wide receiver Christian Banker has accepted a preferred walk-on opportunity at Nebraska.
The Illini opened practice on Valentine’s Day, making them the early birds of the 130 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Husker football coaches will be in attendance for a junior college prospect camp on July 22 hosted by Kansas, according to a flier tweeted by the Jayhawks' director of recruiting.
Nate Gerry and Cethan Carter might carry the best hopes of Nebraska prospects, but overall lukewarm projections leave the Huskers looking at a lean NFL draft for the second time in five years.
Nebraska senior offensive lineman Dwayne Johnson has left the program and will pursue transfer options after he graduates in May with a degree in criminal justice and criminology, a Husker spokesman confirmed Wednesday. Huskers Illustrated first reported the news.
The Huskers have to be happy with their haul to this point. They’re hovering around the top 10 nationally in the recruiting ratings thanks to a lush star-rating-per-prospect. Life’s pretty good in The Good Life. So, what now?
Restricted free agent linebacker Will Compton re-signed with the Washington Redskins on Monday.
Nebraska’s first priority of the spring evaluation period was to “swarm” its own state. The Huskers hit high schools in every corner of Nebraska over the last week, but now the coaches are expanding their range.
Given where Chris Jones plays on a football field — out on an island at cornerback, just a man and his assignment — perhaps it makes sense. The senior who may be NU’s best overall player doesn’t talk much to…
As one of the most successful receivers in Nebraska football history, Jordan Westerkamp knew a little something about adjusting routes and finding ways to make things work. The last four months have been a little like that, too.
Nebraska’s staff spread out, “swarming the state” and promoting it hard on social media. All told, the Husker staff made close to 50 stops six days after the spring game.
Nebraska received its eighth known verbal commit for the 2018 class on Sunday evening from Corona (Calif.) Centennial wideout Chase Williams. Three quick thoughts on his decision.
Nebraska football kept its recruiting roll going Sunday evening when Corona (California) Eleanor Roosevelt athlete Chase Williams verbally committed to the Huskers via a video he released on Twitter.
Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst was a key architect of a massive recruiting reform package — one Husker coaches supported — that was passed April 14 by the NCAA Division I Council.
It’s been a long, long time since Nebraska had a quarterback play quarterback in the NFL. A long time since NU had a quarterback drafted as a quarterback.
Maybe it’s wise to check out what has worked for the Big Ten’s most consistent defense recently — Wisconsin — which conveniently also is among the programs the Huskers have to conquer to get out of the West Division.
Several Nebraska football coaches had a busy day Friday, swarming the state visiting potential 2018 and 2019 recruits. Here's a few of the coaches' tweets pinpointing the high schools they visited throughout the day.
Nebraska officially has seven commitments for the 2018 class. But on Mike Riley’s Husker Sports Network radio show Thursday night, the coach said NU has nine commitments — which means two of them are “silent” unannounced verbal pledges — with…
Nebraska has never had a recruiting class finish better than 17th in ESPN's rankings. The Huskers' 2018 class currently ranks in the top 10. ESPN released Thursday its updated player rankings for the 2018 class, and the Huskers have four…
Riley said Wednesday he was pleased the NCAA Division I Council voted last week to significantly regulate how many camps college coaches can work, and where those camps can be held.
The 10 recruits that were committed to Nebraska earliest in their respective recruiting cycles, and the current Husker commits that have a chance at cracking this list.
Nebraska split practice time evenly this spring as QBs Tanner Lee and Patrick O'Brien battled for the starting job. NU coach Mike Riley announced Wednesday that the job is now Lee's to lose.
David Knevel said the Nebraska offense seemed to find traction this spring with a particular outside running play, with “pinners and pullers” and a design that the right tackle thought was a good fit for Husker linemen.
World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa tackle top local topics and the hottest headlines from across the country in the April 18 edition of "The Pick Six Podcast."
No need to scour the dictionary for flowery phrases to describe Rutgers’ football offense last year when one word will do: Inept. Maybe “inept” should be in capital letters considering the Scarlet Knights were last nationally in total offense (283.2…
For Nebraska’s 2017 football team, picking out the big movers isn’t the hard part. It’s limiting the list to just 10. That’s because Nebraska arguably has its youngest and least experienced roster since 2011, the season after the Huskers had…
Teammate of NU signee Damion Daniels plans to make decision after senior season.
Prized defensive line/tight end prospect "definitely" keeping Nebraska in the mix
Spielman got a taste of what he’s been waiting for with four receptions and a touchdown in the Red-White scrimmage Saturday.
Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2018 recruiting class won’t have to learn the nuances of defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.