Nebraska Football: Getting you set for Illinois and the Huskers

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The Nebraska football team takes on Illinois a week after nearly taking down Ohio State in Columbus and here’s a breakdown.

There’s cause for optimism in Lincoln as Nebraska football welcomes the Illinois Fighting Illini to Memorial Stadium on Saturday. They went into Columbus last weekend and led Ohio State at halftime, prompting the hometown crowd to boo the home team off the field.

Adrian Martinez was a classic dual-threat quarterback, adding two rushing touchdowns to 266 passing yards, a touchdown, and a 66.7 percent completion percentage. Stanley Morgan and JD Spielman were both solid, logging seven and six catches respectively for 87 and 61 yards. The defense forced the Buckeyes to punt four times, after having not forced an OSU punt since 2012.

Although the Huskers lost, things were happening and wheels were spinning last Saturday afternoon, and Nebraska lost by a respectable five, beating the spread by 12.5 points.

But that was last week, and we now stand on the eve of the Illinois game. Illinois is 4-5 and coming off a big 55-31 win over Minnesota, but Nebraska football is the home favorite at -17.5, the same odds Ohio State was favored by last week.

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After a few rounds of musical quarterbacks, the Illini are currently led by former Husker AJ Bush, who completed 75 percent of his passes against Minnesota for 216 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He’s a bit of a dual threat himself, throwing for 924 yards on the season and rushing for 472.

Last week’s rushing leader for the Illini was Reggie Corbin, who carried the ball 13 times for 213 yards and an eye-popping average of 16.4 yards per carry, plus two touchdowns. Receiving leader Ricky Smalling’s four receptions, 86 yards, and a touchdown, while impressive on average, seem almost pedestrian compared to Corbin’s numbers, which points to Illinois’ plan of attack centering on the ground game.

The Blackshirts could have an opportunity to feast, as the Illini lost two fumbles last week in addition to Bush’s interception. Illinois’ defense also forced three Gopher fumbles, recovering two. They also forced Minnesota to punt six times.

Next. Three predictions for NEB vs Illinois. dark

If Nebraska’s record was better, this game would be a prime look-ahead slip-up game, as they psyche themselves up and out for Michigan State next week and forget what’s right in front of them. However, after starting 0-6 and just now starting to rack up wins, and with bowl eligibility out of the picture, the time is right for the Huskers to take it one week at a time, beat Illinois this week, and prepare for the Spartans when that time comes, after this Saturday. My bet is the Huskers improve to 3-7 in a game fought mostly, but not exclusively, on the ground.