Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium on Saturday for its Big Ten home opener against Illinois. Saturday's contest with the Fighting Illini also marks the 2016 Homecoming game for Nebraska. Nebraska enters the game with a 4-0 record, after opening Big Ten Conference play with a 24-13 victory over Northwestern. The Husker offense was explosive in the victory, rolling up 556 yards of total offense, including 310 rushing yards. The victory allowed Nebraska to begin the season 4-0 for the second time in three seasons.
The Huskers also continue to climb in the national polls, checking in at No. 15 in both the Associated Press Poll and USA Today Coaches Polls. Illinois comes to LIncoln with a 1-2 record, and Saturday's game will mark the Illini's conference opener after having a bye week last Saturday. Illinois opened the year with a victory over Murray State, but dropped back-to-back home contests against North Carolina and Western Michigan to complete non-conference action. The Fighting Illini are in their first season under the direction of Coach Lovie Smith. The Illinois coach spent 11 years as a head coach in the National Football League, including the previous two seasons at Tampa Bay.
Date/Time: October 1, 2016 2:30 p.m. CDT
Location: Memorial Stadium/Tom Osborne Field, Capacity: 86,047
Surface: Field Turf
Opposition Blog: Check out The Champaign Room for everything Illinois
Series Record: Nebraska holds a a 9-3-1 advantage in the all-time series with Illinois. The first game between these teams was waaaaaay back in 1892. Illinois was the first out-of-state team to ever play the Huskers in Lincoln. (The Omaha World Herald has a nice write up on the series and that first game). The only tie in the series occurred in 1953, a 21-21 game in which the Huskers were coached by Bill Glassford. Coach Glassford recently passed away at the age of 102. The most lopsided game was a 59-14 drubbing by the 1986 Huskers in Champaign. The most recent win by Illinois was a one-point heartbreaker in 2015 when the Illini marched down the field and scored the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left.
TV: The game will be televised on ESPN2 Dave Lamont, Play-by-Play, Kelly Stouffer, Analyst, and Paul Carcaterra, Sidelines. It can be streamed on WatchESPN with a login from your cable/satellite provider. Playstation Vue streaming includes ESPN in all of its packages. SlingTV streaming includes ESPN in its Orange (but not Blue) package.
More streaming options: The official Huskers app is available on iTunes. The app is free but accessing live audio costs $4.99 (per season). The app is available for Android users for free but the live content requires a payment (I could not see the amount but assume it is similar to the other). I often use the TuneIn app for game audio.
Weather: At kickoff it is expected to be 70 degrees and mostly cloudy with almost no chance of precipitation. Wind will not be a factor (ENE at 5 mph).
Odds: The Huskers are favored by 20 by most oddsmakers and 21 by a couple.
Nebraska has scored 42 points off its 10 takeaways this season. The Huskers have turned the ball over four times and the opposition has scored just six points on the NU miscues.
Coach Mike Riley is one of 10 active coaches to win 100 games at a Power Five Conference school.
Coach, Current School, Career Wins
Bill Snyder, Kansas State 195
Nick Saban, Alabama 186
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma 180
Mark Richt, Miami 148
Les Miles, LSU 142
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa 130
Urban Meyer, Ohio State 118
Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati 113
Mike Leach, Washington State 106
Mike Riley, Nebraska 103
Note: Win totals reflect only wins at Power Five schools.
Husker Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker discusses the rotation of the defensive linemen.
“We played eight defensive linemen last week. So I thought the defensive line was pretty fresh throughout the course of the game.”
Banker also discussed the importance of limiting big plays on defense.
“[It’s important to stop big plays in] every game, because we only gave two really big plays [against Northwestern],” Banker said. “One run and one on the pass and they were both touchdowns. Other than that, they didn’t hurt us, but you can’t do it. It’s not even a matter of limiting them. You just don’t want to give up a big play. Always make a team drive and you know chances are, if you get lined up correctly and you just execute the basics of your assignment, you’re going to have a chance to make a play of some sort and make the offense earn that particular play.”