Coming off a blowout loss against No.2 Michigan, Nebraska football has a unique opportunity against Illinois.
Illinois has been the victor in the last three matches against the Huskers. But both teams have the same record, sitting at 2-3. Nebraska football comes in a slight underdog.
Illinois ranks number 70 in total offense and has struggled, particularly in turnovers. Their offense averages 148.2 rushing yards per game, giving the Nebraska football defense the upper hand.
Even after the brutal loss to Michigan, the Huskers rank number 14 in rushing defense, allowing 86.8 yards per game. On paper, NU has the advantage in stopping the run.
Illinois will dissect the Nebraska secondary, attempting to emulate Michigan’s success. Luke Altmyer, the Fighting Illini quarterback, has a 65 percent completion rate with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
If Nebraska football is victorious, the success will probably come from the Nebraska secondary. The secondary must force turnovers and disrupt the passing game. They must model their approach in their first match against Minnesota (a low-scoring game).
Nebraska defense will be hampered by Nebraska football’s offense
The Nebraska offense has struggled, ranking much lower nationally than their defense. Although few explosive plays have developed, Heinrich Haarberg has proven to be a steady hand.
The game’s outcome hinges on shutting down the Illinois passing game and Nebraska’s offense scoring. Since their passing game has struggled, it wouldn’t be surprising if Nebraska adopts a run-heavy approach. Nebraska’s rushing attack must include Haarberg and running back Anthony Grant.
Husker fans are still awaiting the passing game to develop, which should focus on Thomas Fidone and Marcus Washington, both big targets. At the very least, the offense must avoid turnovers, which have proven to be costly in every loss so far.
Though the betting odds favor Illinois, on paper, Nebraska football has a legitimate chance of shutting down the Illinois offense. If the Huskers score on offense, and the defense shuts down the run, the game should be theirs to lose.