Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-0) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (0-0)
August 28, 2021 1:00 pm EDT
The Line: Illinois Fighting Illini +7 / Nebraska Cornhuskers -7; Over/Under: 55
(Click here for latest betting odds)
The Illinois Fighting Illini take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Week 0 Big Ten college football action at Memorial Stadium. The Cornhuskers are still looking for their first winning season under Scott Frost, and they won just three games last year. The Fighting Illini won just two games last season, but they have a new head coach in Wisconsin legend Bret Bielema.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers averaged 23.1 points and 391.5 yards per game last season. Nebraska allowed an average of 29.4 points and 386.5 yards per game last season. Adrian Martinez returns for his fourth season at quarterback, and he has 5,600 passing yards and 31 touchdowns on his career. Martinez and his playmaking ability is key to Nebraska’s success this season, as he also led the Cornhuskers in rushing last year. Austin Allen and Zavier Betts return as the Cornhuskers skill positions, a duo that combined for 300 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, JoJo Domann returns after leading Nebraska with 58 tackles, Will Honas had three sacks and Myles Farmer had two interceptions. This has to be a make or break season for coach Foster.
The Illinois Fighting Illini averaged 20.1 points and 349 yards per game last season. Illinois allowed an average of 34.7 points and 466.8 yards per game last season. Brandon Peters returns at quarterback and has nearly 3,000 career passing yards with 25 touchdowns. The Michigan transfer should finally be settled in with the Fighting Illini and it’s up to him to improve a rough offense from a year ago. Chase Brown is back after leading with the way with 540 rushing yards and Daniel Barker is a tight end who had 268 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Jake Hansen returns after leading Illinois with 68 tackles, Owen Carney Jr. had five sacks and Devon Witherspoon had two interceptions. Illinois has a lot of returning key positions and a coach who has proven he can win on a big level. This should be a big bounce back year for the Fighting Illini.
The Cornhuskers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite. The Fighting Illini are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall. The under is 4-0 in Cornhuskers last 4 games overall.
Nebraska is the better team on paper and should be favored, but we’ve been saying that a lot under coach Frost and it hasn’t paid off for the Cornhuskers. Frost is winning 37.5 percent of his games at Nebraska through three seasons and the Cornhuskers have lost four of its last six games outright as a favorite. Illinois is at home, has an actual coach for the first time in forever and beat Nebraska on the road last year, 41-23. Nebraska has been one of the biggest underachievers in college football the last five seasons, so I’m not running to the window to lay a touchdown on the road. Give me Illinois.