Nebraska vs. Illinois Prediction, Game Preview

    Nebraska vs. Illinois prediction and game preview. Find out who is projected to win Saturday's matchup between the Cornhuskers and Fighting Illini.

    September 26, 2016

    Nebraska vs. Illinois prediction and game preview. Find out who is projected to win Saturday’s matchup between the Cornhuskers and Fighting Illini.


    Nebraska vs. Illinois Game Preview

    When: Saturday, Oct. 1 – 3:30 ET
    Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
    TV Broadcast: ESPN2

    Nebraska became the Big Ten’s fourth team in the top 15 of the AP Top 25 when it jumped five spots from No. 20 after beating Northwestern, 24-13, last week. Coach Mike Riley has the Cornhuskers off to a 4-0 start, already two victories away from matching last year’s total. Their offense is rolling, and that could spell trouble for Illinois.

    The Fighting Illini had a bye week to prepare for Nebraska following back-to-back home losses, both blowouts. North Carolina beat Illinois 48-23 on Sept. 10 before Western Michigan, which entered as a slight favorite, won 34-10 in Champaign the following week. Coach Lovie Smith’s team is a heavy underdog in this one, and understandably so.

    What to Know About Nebraska

    The Huskers finished with a season-high 556 yards of total offense against Northwestern and converted half of their 14 third downs. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong proved he can get the job done with his arm and his legs, throwing for 246 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 132, including a 37-yard scamper. Receiver Jordan Westerkamp even got involved in the ground game, picking up his first career rushing touchdown.

    Can Nebraska keep the offense going against Illinois? It had plenty of trouble in last year’s meeting.

    What to Know About Illinois

    The Illini beat the Huskers 14-13 last season on Wes Lunt’s 1-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining. The biggest reason for Illinois’ win was its success against Armstrong, who completed only 10 of 31 passes while throwing an interception. Nebraska finished with only 292 total yards, but this Illinois defense has had its problems lately.

    The Illini allowed 287 yards on the ground against Western Michigan, so Armstrong and Devine Ozigbo could be in for a big day if that run defense doesn’t tighten up.

    Advantages

    Offense: Nebraska – Ke’Shawn Vaughn is a nice RB for Illinois, but the Huskers have more weapons.

    Defense: Nebraska – The Blackshirts will be ready to go.

    Special Teams: Nebraska – Has forced opponents to miss 4 of 6 field-goal attempts.

    Coaching: Even – Both coaches have NFL experience and are expecting big things at their new jobs.

    Intangibles: Illinois – The Fighting Illini can look back on last year’s win to see how they shut down Armstrong.

    Matchup To Watch

    Vaughn vs. Nebraska’s run defense

    The numbers are a bit skewed considering the opponents’ run-heavy attacks, but the Huskers have allowed 473 yards on the ground over the last two weeks. Vaughn ran for 98 yards as a freshman against Nebraska last season, but he had only 22 on eight careers against Western Michigan.

    Betting Odds

    Spread: Nebraska -21
    Over/Under: No line

    Nebraska vs. Illinois Prediction

    Armstrong makes up for last year’s rough performance by accounting for 400 total yards as Nebraska cruises to an easy win at home.

    Nebraska vs. Illinois final score prediction: Nebraska 38, Illinois 13

    MORE: 1-128 College Football Rankings – Week 5

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