Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10 to face the Illinois Fighting Illini. It is the 16th meeting between the two program.
The Huskers currently hold an 11-3-1 lead in the series. Nebraska's only loss to Illinois as a member of the Big Ten came in 2015 in Champaign, Illinois. As for the Huskers' four victories over the Illini since 2013, they have all come by 15 points or more.
Saturday's matchup also marks Nebraska's annual Veterans Day/Military Salute. The Huskers will recognize the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day on Saturday and at a Sunday morning Armistice Day Display Dedication. Nebraska will also wear new Adidas ‘Memorial Tribute’ alternate uniforms in commemoration.
Nebraska-Illinois football TV channel, time, live stream
TV channel: Big Ten Network (Brandon Gaudin, Glen Mason, Elise Menaker)
Time: 11 a.m. CT
Date: Saturday, Nov. 10
Live stream: BTN2Go
Radio: Huskers fans can listen to the Nebraska vs. Illinois game on IMG Husker Sports Network, as well as on Sirius Channel 99 and XM 201. Internet radio will be available at Huskers.com.
Location: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
Weather: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 36 degrees. Winds S at 15 to 25 mph.
Nebraska-Illinois football picks, odds
The line: Nebraska -17, per OddsShark
Nebraska enters Saturday's matchup 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the Big Ten. The Huskers are coming off a 36-31 loss to No. 8 Ohio State. Despite the loss to the Buckeyes, Nebraska still put up 450 yards of total offense and had three takeaways for the second straight week.
The Huskers have had at least 450 yards of total offense in each of their past six games. That ties a school record for longest such 450-yard streak in Nebraska history. The other years that happened were 1972, 1982, 1994 and 1995.
Nebraska is also only one of six Power Five programs averaging 200 rushing yards and 250 passing yards per game this season. The other teams are Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Syracuse.
Year 3 for head coach Lovie Smith has been a ride. The Illini won their first two games against rather weak nonconference foes — Kent State by seven, Western Illinois by 20 — before losing to South Florida by six at home.
Sophomore quarterback Cam Thomas, who looked like he was going to be the starter at quarterback after last season, never made it onto the field. Transfer AJ Bush won the starting job after a strong fall camp and then Thomas left the program after the first game.
Hasn't really impacted Illinois because Bush has been pretty good this season given the circumstances. He had 190 yards passing and 139 yards rushing in the opener. An injury knocked him off the field until an Oct. 6 matchup against Rutgers, where he returned to run for 116 yards and two scores and throw for 89 yards and another touchdown. He struggled against Purdue and Wisconsin (most have) but has played his best ball the last two weeks.
Against Minnesota last week, Bush 18-for-25 passing for 216 yards and two scores while adding another 127 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Bush's emergence, coupled with a breakout junior season from Reggie Corbin, has allowed new offensive coordinator Rod Smith to do what he does best, pump out one of the nation's best rushing attacks.
Illinois is sixth nationally in rushing S&P+, ninth in opportunity rate and 16th in marginal explosiveness. No one in the Big Ten has more 30-yard carries than Illinois (17) and only Wisconsin has a better yards-per-carry average (6.1).
Corbin has emerged from the last coordinator's doghouse (he had 78 yards a season ago) and has become one of the top rushers in the conference. He's got 952 yards and nine scores on 105 carries, good for a 9.1 yards-per-carry average that ranks third in the country.
Both Mike Epstein and Ra'Von Bonner have battled injuries off and on this season and that has played a role in Corbin's increased usage, but he's also just gotten that much better. It's pretty similar to Devine Ozigbo's situation.
The passing game is a mess still (90th in S&P+, 100th in completion rate, 105th in sack rate) and the defense has been an adventure, but the ground game provides reason for optimism.
About that defense, after three straight outings giving up over 40 points — all three losses — defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson resigned and Smith took over play-calling duties. Things were much better under Smith than they were under Nickerson — the defense disguised things against Minnesota, blitzed more and held the Gophers to a 27 percent success rate when throwing the ball — but this is still a young unit that has been fairly matador-like this season.
As a whole, this defense has struggled to sack the quarterback (114th in sack rate), struggled to get off the field on third down (107th in third-down conversions), struggled to stop the run (115th in S&P+) and struggled to produce many momentum plays on defense (94th in havoc rate).
The success on offense and the fact Illinois has already doubled last season's win total probably gives Smith some more time in Champaign to build, but the defense will need to prove over these final outings that the Minnesota game wasn't a flash in the pan against a bad offense.
For a full look at Illinois, visit Derek Peterson's opponent preview on the Fighting Illini.