Illinois and Nebraska will be playing at Memorial Stadium this Saturday, but not the one the Illini are used to. No, this Memorial Stadium has sold out an NCAA record 336 consecutive games, and is widely regarded as one of the best environments in all of college football. It will most definitely be a stiff test on the road for the Fighting Illini to open up Big Ten play. Can they pull off the shocking upset in primetime? Below our staff writers give their predictions for who's going to win, but we want to hear from you too! Be sure to give us your pick in the comments section.
Jim Vainisi --- Nebraska 41, Illinois 30
I predict that Nebraska will ease to a victory on Saturday. Illinois will score a late touchdown and the final score won't be indicative of their performance. Oh, and Ameer Abdullah will have a huge day and achieve 200 yards of total offense (140 on the ground, 60 via receptions).
Mark Primiano --- Nebraska 45, Illinois 30
The Illini should at least put up more of a fight during this year's trip to Lincoln. There aren't words to express how mad I am that I have a surgery exam on Monday blocking me from attending this game. But that's beyond the point. The Illini are going to have at least one upset this season, I just don't think this is it. Huskers win at home by fifteen.
Aaron Rench --- Nebraska 37, Illinois 21
Look, we're all waiting to see if the Illini's defense has improved. Through the first 4 games, it does seem better. In 2013, they allowed 5.6 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per passing attempt. Now, they're holding teams to 3.7 and 7.5 respectively. However, this game may inflate those numbers back up, as Nebraska is the best offense in the Big Ten's West division. You may want to look away, Illinois fans.
Colin Whitchurch --- Nebraska 49, Illinois 21
The slow starts the Illini have become accustomed to getting off to will do them no favors against the Huskers. I don't expect this one to be within three touchdowns for very long and for Abdullah to run for miles and miles and miles.
Bryce Smith --- Nebraska 43, Illinois 29
The Illini keep it closer than expected and Nebraska scores a late garbage-time touchdown. The Illini win the turnover battle and don't make mistakes but ultimately the Huskers win. For me, I just don't see Illinois being able to win this game on the road. A week removed from Texas State and showing off some nice new uniforms has given me hope, and hopefully this game will give fans some optimism that we can crush Purdue while TCR watches from the press box.
Brad Repplinger --- Illinois 31, Nebraska 28
I should start by announcing that I'm currently sipping on Orange Kool-Aid. That being the case, the Illini will start the game putting up 2 touchdowns thanks to the legs of Josh Ferguson. Our defense comes up with 3 Abdullah fumbles in 3 posessions, and the Illini take a 31-0 lead into halftime. A lead that they won't give up as the Huskers can only find the endzone 4 times in the second half. Bo Pelini tries to use his cat for motivation a halftime, but it's no use. Somewhere, Ndamukong Suh is sobbing. Illini win.
Brandon Cain --- Nebraska 35, Illinois 24
Last year, Nebraska won 39-19, but the Illini have Wes Lunt at quarterback this season. Lunt is second in the Big Ten in passing, but it's still unclear if wide receiver Geronimo Allison will play. He could figure to be a big piece to this game. The Huskers' defense have eight sacks and have forced four turnovers, which could force the Illini to lead more on running back Josh Ferguson, who has been virtually non-existent compared to last year's production.
Trevor Vallese --- Nebraska 42, Illinois 17
Sorry to be Debby Downer here folks, but there's no way to sugarcoat this one. It's probably going to get really ugly. Fast starts have been one of the Illini's biggest problems so far in 2014, and Nebraska will take advantage of that much like the Huskies did a few weeks ago. This could be 21-0 or 28-0 by the half. Lunt and the offense will eventually get down in the redzone and score a few meaningless touchdowns, but this one won't be much of a contest. Huskers win big.
BONUS PREDICTION: Josh Ferguson will pick up right where he left off against Texas State with a big day on the ground. It might not necessarily lead to scoring plays, but he'll take those screen passes and halfback tosses and go to work. Between him and Abdullah the rushing game will play a big role in the outcome of this game.
Matt Silich's prediction can always be found in his excellent game previews (seriously, check them out). Again, drop by below to tell us what you think is going to happen!