Matt Rejc: #17 Illinois 42, Nebraska 25
Illinois extends their winning streak against Nebraska to three in another fairly ho-hum win over a division rival. On paper there’s a lot of talent on the Cornhuskers’ roster, but the Huskers haven’t been able to tap into the full potential that their talent affords at any point during the Scott Frost era or since. I doubt they put the pieces together this week, but I think they do enough to keep this game interesting. At the end of the day, the Blackshirts are simply not good enough to stop Chase Brown, and Nebraska doesn’t have enough offensive firepower to match.
Noah Cowell: #17 Illinois 30, Nebraska 14
Regardless of the struggles so far in Nebraska’s season, they’re not to be underestimated heading into Lincoln on Saturday. This team has played with way more fire in Big Ten play since the firing of Scott Frost, winning two against Indiana and Rutgers and almost pulling off the upset on the road at Purdue. Although the Boilermakers were humiliated last weekend in Madison, don’t let it change the fact that hanging with Purdue in West Lafayette isn’t an easy thing to do. This Illinois defense has been nothing short of miraculous this season, but one of their few weaknesses has been letting up big plays. Casey Thompson and Trey Palmer excel in that area. I think Thompson airs out a few of these plays in the first half to give Nebraska an early lead, but his tendency to make mistakes — combined with the Illini’s tendency to force them — will allow Illinois to take a commanding lead in the second half. Josh McCray’s resurgence into this offense will give Chase Brown some much-needed assistance, and they’ll both be too much for this horrible Nebraska defense.
Will Charlton: #17 Illinois 27, Nebraska 13
This has trap game written all over and it does scare me a little. But, I think the Illini are too determined to lose this kind of game. Both teams are coming off a bye and the first half will be a little underwhelming, especially for the Illini. I expect a super close game heading into the break where it might even be tied at 10. Then, the offense will take control of the game in the second half; control time of possession, and go on three nice scoring drives. Brown will rush for over 150 yards again against a struggling Husker defense and DeVito will do what he needs to like he’s done all season. The offensive line (gotta give the big guys some love) will once again control the front and allow Brown to do his thing. Husker QB Casey Thompson might throw for a few long balls like he’s able to do, but this is the best defense they’ll face this season so I expect Thompson’s numbers to be lower than normal. He’s also thrown a handful of interceptions this season since he is a gunslinger. Another big road win would be huge on the road to Indy. ILL.
Ethan Parker: #17 Illinois 31, Nebraska 13
I have to agree with Will – this has trap game written all over it. But do I think the Illini will overlook Nebraska? No. The Illini are a completely new team, with a completely new outlook and mindset that goes into taking it game by game. Yes, this is the team in years past that would break your heart in an instant if given the chance, but this year is different. Ground and pound will be the name of the game with Josh McCray rejoining the huddle along with running mate Chase Brown. Tommy DeVito will be Big Time Tommy with timely chunk plays against this poorly-run Nebraska’s defense. The Huskers faithful will be so tired of watching the Illini control time of possession that they will leave mid-way through the 4th. Causing the “Sea of Red” to fall under a drought.
Brandt Dolce: #17 Illinois 44, Nebraska 17
Nebraska has a putrid defense and good skill position players on offense. Expect Illinois to have their way offensively, and duplicate the lopsided possession battle against Minnesota last time out. Josh McCray is back! Chase Brown runs his way into the Top 5 Heisman projections on ABC. Brown has 28 Carrie’s for 207 yards and three scores. McCray gets more than 50. QB Tommy Devito continues error free football and the elite defense from Illinois forces four more turnovers. Game will not be as close as the final score could indicate. Bret Bielema vaults into serious discussion for National COY. (7) sacks for the Illini.
Mihir Chavan: #17 Illinois 51, Nebraska 17
Nebraska is the 115th ranked rushing defense allowing 190.4 yards a game on the ground on 38 plays a game. The Huskers are the 121st ranked passing defense allowing 281.3 yards a game in the air on 41 plays a game. Total that is 471.7 yards a game on 79(!) plays a game, good for 123rd total defense. They are getting better, allowing only 415 yards a game in October. Against the 6th, 12th, and 33rd ranked defenses, Illinois put up 364 yards a game. It is a Big Ten game, so expect competition, but with Josh McCray coming back as a change of pace threat, this offense has a chance to be absolutely lethal. We about double my expectations. 5 TDs and 3 FGs and I expect this offense will be lethal. The defense does it’s job and keeps Nebraska well under 58 plays and gets into the endzone. For a passing team, Nebraska has allowed 20 sacks and 16 TFLs on the year which is a lot. They will be an one dimensional as it comes only really making plays through the air. Hammer the points, hammer the ML. Illinois is going to make the balckshirts wish they had Bo Pelini back. Chase Heisman and Big Time Tommy send a message to the national audience on ABC.
Kyle Tausk: #17 Illinois 38, Nebraska 21
I think Nebraska’s offense will be able to score a little more than we’re used to seeing against this Illini defense this year behind an underrated trio of QB Casey Thompson, RB Anthony Grant, and WR Trey Palmer. This will be a solid test for Illinois’ number 1 scoring defense in the nation and I think they’ll face a few struggles in a tough environment. The Husker defense on the other hand, is nothing to be scared of. This is a unit that got bulldozed by Georgia freaking Southern this year and while they’ve looked a little better after booting Scott Frost into the sun, they just gave up 608 total yards to Purdue two weeks ago. I expect Chase Brown to have yet another huge day, Tommy DeVito to make some plays downfield, and even Josh McCray to have a few explosive runs in his return from injury. The Huskers stay competitive at home, but the 17th ranked Illini move to 7-1.