Nebraska rush offense vs. Illinois rush defense
The Illini defense has had success slowing down the run games of Western Illinois, Kent State and Middle Tennessee State, but North Carolina — which resembles Nebraska's old offense — averaged 6.86 yards per carry. NU's current run game has been hot and cold, but offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf has found creative ways to create good plays in the run game. Against Illinois, he'd be wise to lean more on quarterback Tommy Armstrong and designed QB runs.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Illinois pass defense
Armstrong is off to a terrific start, having thrown for 1,266 yards and 11 touchdowns in four games. His receivers had a strong game against Southern Miss, and the Huskers should get De'Mornay Pierson-El back in some capacity. Illinois' secondary — and its whole defense — is much improved from last season. Illinois' pass rush, featuring Jihad Ward, will give NU's offensive line as many problems as Miami did.
Illinois rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Huskers sell out to stop the run — at the expense at stopping the pass, so even though Illinois has a crafty running back in Josh Ferguson and a better offensive line than it's had in recent years, chances are good that the Illini don't run for more 100 yards in the game. NU dissuades it as much as possible.
Illinois pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
NU's secondary and linebackers looked really good for three quarters against Southern Miss and appeared to be a complete mess in the fourth quarter. The back seven have yet to put together a complete game, and Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt is strong-armed and smart enough to take the Huskers apart. Ferguson is one of the nation's better pass-catching running backs, while Geronimo Allison is a strong deep threat. The Huskers' secondary has to figure itself out.
Nebraska has been a mixed bag through four games. Made and missed field goals. A few decent punt returns offset by a whiff on an onside kick. Good kick coverage offset by a few punts off the foot of punter Sam Foltz. Nothing has been consistent thus far. Illinois has blocked three kicks already this year and returner V'Angelo Bentley is dangerous.
The Huskers should have a good group of fans who make the trip to the other Memorial Stadium in the Big Ten West. That'll help. But Illinois can play this game a lot looser than NU. What do the Illini have to lose? Nothing; the head coach has already been fired and the interim is a long shot to get the permanent job. Nebraska is going to feel the pressure to win and keep winning, even with a new coaching staff.
Key matchup: Wes Lunt vs. a low-confidence secondary
There's just no way to feel great about where Nebraska's defensive backs are right now, and NU defensive coordinator Mark Banker is already starting to repeat himself on what needs to be fixed. It all needs to look better, and Illinois — with its spread, no-huddle offense — is not really the team to make it easier on the Huskers. But if Nebraska can rattle Lunt, it should win this game.
Illinois is a bad matchup for the Huskers for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the Illini's offense is diverse and dangerous in the same ways Southern Miss and Miami were. Nebraska's defense may be without linebacker Josh Banderas and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine by game time. Then again, Armstrong is playing the most confident football of his career. He believes he can bring the Huskers back from big deficits and he likes the new offense. That counts for a lot.
Our prediction: Nebraska 38, Illinois 30
Big Red Today coverage
Some fans say Iowa and Nebraska aren't rivals. Others concede they are. But nobody took the game as seriously as the 1891 Omaha World-Herald sports department.
Nebraska and Purdue faced off as conference opponents for the first time in 2013, which ignited what will be at least 13 consecutive seasons with one another on the schedule. But 2013 wasn't the first overall matchup. Nope, that came…
We wrote this story out of Minnesota in 2013 and 2017, too. The names change. The clichés, too, a little bit. And even if it’s supposed to be different under Scott Frost — even if, one day, it is —…
Time and again, opposing coaches see Nebraska step off the bus and wonder if they can run the ball on them. And then they do.
Scott Frost had one hand in his pocket, and the other one was carrying a playsheet. And nothing was fine for the Nebraska football coach.
P.J. Fleck just shoved his oar right down Nebraska’s throat. People like to laugh at Fleck, the Minnesota football coach, saying he’s a huckster and a fake. Well, there was nothing fake about what Fleck’s Gophers did to Nebraska on…
The blank faces said it all. By the time Nebraska defenders trudged off the cold and misty field at TCF Bank Stadium, they had already processed much of the carnage. A 20-point third quarter that blew the doors off a…
A closer look at the defining stats and figures from the Huskers' loss to Minnesota on Saturday.
Minnesota carved up Nebraska’s defense with its run game Saturday night because it spotted soft spots disguised as strengths.
World-Herald staff writer Chris Heady takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' loss to Minnesota.
Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Minnesota.
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is not suited up for the game an hour ahead of kickoff and will not play against Minnesota.
Some regents say it’s a win for Nebraska to bring Hank Bounds back because he is a good fundraiser who knows and cares about the projects involved. Some observers say they are perplexed by the amount he will receive, and…
The Huskers think a strong second half is coming. Their counterparts in Minneapolis have already experienced it.
Noah Vedral knows the offense back and forward. We haven’t seen a lot of his game. He got in one game last year. And then last week. That’s the beauty of it, too. There isn’t a lot of film of…
Fremont senior Keegan Menning added his name to the list of walk-ons in Nebraska’s 2020 class on Thursday night.
“It’s an awesome rule,” said Luke McCaffrey, who’s drawn raves from coaches and teammates while he redshirts and works to push Adrian Martinez for the starting role next season. “I think it’s fantastic.”
Mohamed Barry was named a quarterfinalist for the 2019 Lott Trophy, which recognizes a player who made the biggest impact on his team both on and off the field.
If it’s Christmas weather — 32 degrees — for Nebraska’s Saturday night game at Minnesota, well, Scott Frost can’t think anything much better.
While Nebraska's travel roster is rounding into form, the status of players at multiple key positions remains unclear.
"I just thought that I was on a different planet almost," she told The World-Herald. "It was a special place to be."
“Defensively, they’re a lot more sound than what we saw last year and more athletic," Scott Frost said. "They’ve definitely improved. You can tell it’s year three of his tenure up there. They’re starting to look like the team he…
They've given you lifelong memories, permanent heartache, everlasting glee and eternal suffering.
Weather, smeather. That was more or less the reaction from Nebraska offensive coaches Tuesday when probed about how they might adjust preparations for Saturday night's game at Minnesota that calls for temperatures in the mid-30s and a good chance of…
Encouraging news this morning from Husker football practice. Adrian Martinez (knee) and JD Spielman (undisclosed) were both in pads for practice Wednesday.
Earlier this week, I called Matt Turman to talk about his nephew, Noah Vedral, waiting and getting that big moment. But as we talked, it hit me that there's a bigger story. The story about the small, small world of…
For Nebraska’s program to be full blast again, the A.D. says it will take two more recruiting classes and two more years of developing a walk-on program.
Nebraska has dominated Minnesota since 1963, claiming 19 of 22 games. But the Gophers have the all-time edge.
Inside linebacker Mohamed Barry doesn’t usually concern himself much with wide receivers. This week, he’s at full attention.
Nebraska received a commitment Tuesday from Miami Northwestern defensive back Ronald Delancy. Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot, 165-pounder.