The stars are out in Lincoln for the return of Husker football. That includes local celebrities with a headline-grabbing group of recruits inbound to Memorial Stadium for Saturday afternoon’s game between No. 17 Illinois (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) and Nebraska (3-4, 2-2). It’s the Huskers’ first home game in four weeks.
Five-star recruit Dylan Raiola is in Lincoln for today’s game, as is his younger brother, Dayton Raiola. Dylan’s been a Nebraska target since before he committed to Ohio State back in May. The nation’s top recruit in the 2024 recruiting class led Chandler, Arizona, in a physical 14-7 loss to Basha, Arizona, on Friday night in a nationally televised game. Dayton is the quarterback on Chandler’s freshman team. Nebraska extended scholarship offers to both. Of course, they are the children of Nebraska Hall of Famer Dominic Raiola and nephews of current Nebraska offensive line coach Donovan Raiola.
Also among the star-studded recruiting list that Nebraska has lined up for today is lineman Bo Hughley from Atlanta. The senior is a 4-star prospect who’s already committed to Georgia.
>> This game is airing nationally on ABC and on the ESPN app. Dave Pasch has the play by play with Dusty Dvoracek in the booth and Tom Luginbill on the sidelines.
>> Nebraska comes into Saturday’s game with a 19-game losing streak against ranked opponents. That dates back to a 35-32 win over No. 22 Oregon in 2016. Most recently Nebraska played No. 6 Oklahoma in a 49-14 loss in Memorial Stadium.
>> Saturday’s game fixes to be a “top-10 game day,” weather-wise, according to Rusty Dawkins. His weather report suggests little wind and no chance of precipitation while the temperature remains in the high 60s for most of the game. That temperature will likely drop by the end of the game when the sun falls behind the stadium’s West end. The temperature on Tom Osborne Field, however, is noticeably warmer with the sun bouncing off the artificial turf.
>> This is the 10th consecutive season Nebraska and Illinois play each other. The Illini have won the last two but Nebraska won the four preceding games.
>> Both Nebraska and Illinois are coming off bye weeks, giving them an extra week of rest and preparation. Illinois beat Minnesota, 26-14, before the bye while Nebraska fell on the road to Purdue, 43-37. Illinois has won five straight while Nebraska’s loss to Purdue broke a two-game winning streak.
>> Running backs coach Bryan Applewhite led his group for a walk around Tom Osborne Field before warmups. He, Anthony Grant, Jaquez Yant, Ramir Johnson and Gabe Ervin Jr. were all in suits while Cooper Jewett joined in his warmup gear. They walked the west hashmarks and back up the east hashmarks before joining in a circle for a few words. Interim head coach Mickey Joseph said earlier this week Nebraska “needs to get the run game going” against Illinois.
>> Nebraska’s quarterback group warmed up together as a unit. That included Chubba Purdy, Logan Smothers, Heinrich Haarberg and Matt Masker, along with starter Casey Thompson.
>> Team captain linebacker Nick Henrich is out of the rest of the season with a knee injury, head coach Mickey Joseph confirmed earlier this week. The Huskers will also be without receiver Omar Manning as he recovers from a high ankle sprain. He came out for warmups in his jersey without pads. Offensive lineman Broc Bando is not dressed to play. Mickey Joseph suggested earlier this week the senior would be a game-time decision as he comes back from injury.