The 2021 college football season kicks off this weekend and fans will be treated to a Power Five match-up right of the bat. Nebraska will travel to Champaign to take on Illinois in each team’s opener this Saturday.
With the game just a few days away, it’s prediction time.
ESPN’s Bill Connelly began his weekly SP+ predictions on Thursday with projections for each of the seven games that will take this weekend. Here’s a look at his score prediction for Nebraska-Illinois:
- Nebraska 32.4 – Illinois 22.3
Nebraska is currently a seven-point favorite over Illinois, so Connelly and SP+ clearly like the Cornhuskers by a wide margin on Saturday. Of course, fans will have to wait and see how the action on the field plays out.
lol, I cannot tell you how many mentions/DMs I've gotten since this morning, asking for Week 0 SP+ projections. I have to say, I feel weird feeding this addiction OH, WHO AM I KIDDING…
WEEK 0 SP+ PROJECTIONS: pic.twitter.com/IIRiUi6rlh
— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) August 25, 2021
Both Nebraska and Illinois are in dire need of a win to start off the season. Neither team is expected to challenge for a Big Ten West division title this year, but this weekend’s match-up will be crucial for setting the tone for the year for both programs.
Nebraska is in the midst of a downswing and hasn’t had a winning season since 2016. Head coach Scott Frost has struggled to produce the results that the Cornhuskers expected, landing him squarely on the hot seat. There’s plenty of talent returning to Lincoln, so Nebraska should expect to knock off a team like Illinois.
The Fighting Illini have handed the keys to Brett Bielema, who will enter his first season as the program’s head coach. Illinois last had a winning record in 2011 and recently went 2-6 in Love Smith’s final year at the helm. Bielema will have an uphill battle, but could show that he means business with a win at home in Week 0.
Nebraska vs. Illinois will kick-off at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 28. The game will air on FOX.