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Illinois Football improves to No. 70 in latest S&P+ rankings after 31-16 loss to Nebraska

The Orange and Blue checked in at No. 71 last week.

Illinois v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

It may not seem like it thanks to a 31-16 final score, but Illinois played a pretty great game against No. 15 Nebraska. The Fighting Illini held a 6-point lead at beginning of the fourth quarter, however the Cornhuskers finally responded with a back-breaking 18-play drive that spanned nearly 10 minutes. It’s hard to regroup from that, and after consecutive three-and-outs by the offense, Nebraska’s physicality proved too much.

Still, Illinois’ effort was at least worth something because the program has seen a small jump to No. 70 in the latest S&P+ rankings.

Illinois’ offense checks in at No. 77 (+4), and the defense saw a similar improvement to No. 57 (+3). Special teams experienced a fairly steep decline to No. 47 (-16), though, and that may have something to do with poor kickoff coverage. Additionally, the Illini remain ranked higher than the following Power 5 programs: Duke, Syracuse, South Carolina, Iowa State, Virginia, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Oregon State, Rutgers, and Kansas.

The Orange and Blue are exactly 30 spots ahead of Purdue (No. 100), their Week 6 opponent. The Boilermakers currently have the No. 101 offense, No. 89 defense, and No. 108 special teams.