Illinois and Nebraska begin Big Ten conference play this Saturday night in Lincoln. Illinois is a very pedestrian 3-1 with wins against Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State. The Illini trailed in the second half in all three of those games before pulling out wins. Their lone loss was against Washington, which looks to be a force this year in the Pac-12.
Nebraska looks like it is back on track after a scare against McNeese State in early September. The Cornhuskers wore out Miami last Saturday night, 41-31.
Date: Saturday, September 27, 2014
Time: 9:00 PM EST
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Location: Tom Osborne Field at Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, NE)
Betting Line: Nebraska -21.5 via 5Dimes
Prediction: If you believe in “trap games”, this might be one for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers defeated Miami in an emotional, chippy game. Next week they travel to Michigan State, which has once again emerged as one of the top Big Ten teams. Illinois might be a team Nebraska overlooks.
Still, the Cornhuskers should be able to run the ball against Illinois’ porous defense. Ameer Abdullah is one the most talented running backs in the country. It will be vital for Illinois to contain Abdullah and force Tommy Armstrong Jr. to try to beat them.
Illinois has some offensive firepower of its own. Running back Josh Ferguson broke out for 190 rushing yards and three total touchdowns to guide the Illini past Texas State. Wes Lunt has thrown for 1,237 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. The Oklahoma State transfer shouldn’t be afraid to play in front of a raucous crowd. In the end, Nebraska will win this game, but the point spread is too high. Illinois will cover.