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Illinois has a great shot at surprising Nebraska (again) in the Big Ten Opener

After winning in dramatic fashion in 2015, Illinois is poised to stun the Huskers in Memorial Stadium once again.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

2016 Final S&P+ Rk: 46

2016 Off. Rk: 68

2016 Def. Rk: 33

Sitting in the front row of the student section in the north endzone on October 3rd WAY back in 2015, the 40 or so of us that stayed in the stands witnessed one of the best finishes to an Illinois football game in program history. It was cold, raining sideways, the referees had robbed the Illini of a down, and it looked like the orange and blue would be walking off the field to a chorus of “Go Big Red” from the Husker fans that made the trip from Lincoln. However, Wes Lunt drove the offense down the field in 41 seconds to take the lead by a point and ultimately gave Illinois their first victory over Nebraska since the Huskers joined the Big Ten (last win before that was in 1924, but the two have only played 14 times ever).

This season, things could be eerily similar...

Two years ago, the game was a defensive stalemate for most of the afternoon. This season, the Nebraska defense is returning over 3/4ths of its starting lineup and will be a lot for the Illinois offense to handle. On the other hand, the Husker offense will be breaking in a new quarterback/running back/receiver combination. This bodes well for the Illini defense, as there are a host of new faces in Hardy Nickerson’s crew. With both teams having confidence in only one side of the ball, look for the game to be a chess match. Not a lot of points will be scored, and the team that is able to gain the most turnovers will be the one that emerges victorious. Since the Illini are the home team and Nebraska will be looking forward to their game the next week against Wisconsin, Illinois gets the edge in a Friday night toss-up.