Nebraska Preview: Cornhuskers Host Illinois
It hasn't happened much in 2018, but when Nebraska takes the field against Illinois Saturday (November 10), they will be a big favorite for what would be just their third victory of the season.
The Cornhuskers (2-7/1-5 Big Ten Conference) are 17-point favorites thanks to back-to-back wins and then last Saturday's (November 3) impressive showing on the road at #8 Ohio State.
Illinois (4-5/2-4) comes to Lincoln losers in three of their last four, giving up 46, 49, and 63 points in those losses before bouncing back last week against Minnesota.
The Illini defense is dead last in the Big Ten, giving up 525 yards and 37 points per game. The one area Lovie Smith's defense has played well this year is forcing interceptions. Illinois is in the top ten in the nation with 13 picks, a combined six from linebacker Del'Shawn Phillips and defensive back Jartavius Martin.
Linebacker Jake Hansen is sixth in the league in tackles, while end Bobby Roundtree has 4.5 sacks.
Offensively, Illinois is led by former Nebraska quarterback AJ Bush, who left the program in 2016. Bush has teamed with Reggie Corbin to form one of the top running attacks in the Big Ten.
The two have combined for 249 yards per game, which is third in the league and a 111-yard per improvement for this offense from a year ago.
Corbin is the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 213 yards last week against Minnesota.
Illinois has shown the ability to strike quickly so far in 2018 with 16 scoring drives lasting one minute or less.
Kickoff at Memorial Stadium is 11:00 AM, Saturday. You can listen to the game live on ESPN 99.1.
Illinois has not won in Lincoln since 1924.
Last week, the Huskers jumped out to a 21-16 halftime lead at #8 Ohio State, cashing in on two Buckeye turnovers and had a chance to be up by more at the break, but they failed to recover a pair of Ohio State fumbles and also turned the ball over in the red zone on a backward pass that went for a fumble.
Those missed opportunities came back to haunt the Huskers in the second half when the Buckeyes scored 14 unanswered points to take the lead for good in what turned out to be a 36-31 loss.
Running back JK Dobbins had a big day against the Nebraska defense, rushing for 163 yards and three scores.
I talked with the 'Voice of the Huskers' Greg Sharpe about Ohio State loss and the match-up with Illinois: