Nebraska is projected to win only one game the rest of the year: this upcoming week versus Illinois. However, considering how much better the team has played over the course of the last month or so, it’s not hard to imagine the Huskers pulling off an upset of a reeling Michigan State or Iowa team.
Heck, just one week ago, the Huskers were a couple plays away from pulling off a win over Ohio State, a team ranked in the top ten.
But, they did not. So here sit the Huskers, at 2-7. Many have pegged Illinois as a win all season long, even when they sat at 0-6. Are the Huskers, who have much more confidence with their chances against the Spartans or Hawkeyes, in danger of overlooking Lovie Smith’s squad?
How did Nebraska look last weekend?
Refreshing. It was nice to see a game against the Buckeyes where the margin was within 25 points. The last time that happened was the 2011 ‘Lavonte David vs Joe Bauserman’ game.
Adrian Martinez, aside from a boneheaded turnover deep in the redzone, played to perfection once again. He earned Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week again, with 338 total yards and three total touchdowns.
Devine Ozigbo had another solid game, scoring a touchdown on 20 carries for 86 yards. Maurice Washington was quiet and got hurt early. J.D. Spielman came back to Earth after his monster performance last year against the Buckeyes. Stanley Morgan had a huge catch late in the game and was his usual productive self.
It was the Blackshirts that impressed me most. Sure, J.K. Dobbins ran for a career-high, but the Huskers held a top five total offense team to their second-lowest mark of the season. Add on to the three forced turnovers and the four other fumbles by the Buckeyes, and these guys put the offense in good position.
It was simply single blunders that did in Nebraska. A blocked punt, a red zone turnover, a horrendous kickoff, an iffy pass interference call on a long conversion, you name it. Clean up those small things and Nebraska just about outplayed the Buckeyes in every other facet.
How did Illinois look last week?
The Fighting Illini trampled Minnesota 55-31 behind the arms and legs of A.J. Bush. Sound familiar, Husker fans? Bush is a former Nebraska quarterback, who transferred to Iowa Western then Virginia Tech and has finally landed here at Illinois. After an up-and-down season to start, Bush righted his ship with over 400 yards and four touchdowns against the Golden Gophers.
A.J. Bush’s running mate in the backfield, Reggie Corbin, is averaging 125 yards per game in the past five contests. This is an offense that has come on as of late and one the Blackshirts, despite recent encouraging, won’t be able to shut down.
Defensively, Illinois has not been as impressive and will most likely not give this soaring Huskers offense any problems.
What does Vegas say?
Nebraska is currently favored by 17 points, which seems pretty fair. Illinois has been better offensively as of late, while the Huskers’ defense is still not great, despite improvements. Even if Illinois gets behind, the momentum they have off last week should give them the firepower to stay closer than some Husker fans may expect. I think the margin is just right, but the Huskers late firepower may just push the over.
With an over under of 67.5, Vegas knows the offenses will rule the day in Lincoln. This could turn into a Big 12-type game real fast, as both offenses are clicking. Nebraska should easily score at or over 40 points, meaning we need nearly 30 from the Illini. They scored 55 last week, so this should be easy right?
Based on Vegas, the final should be somewhere are 42-25, Huskers. Give me Nebraska and the over.
Prediction: Huskers 44, Fighting Illini 24
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