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Report Card: Huskers 54, Illinois Fighting Illini 35

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Ziggy Stardust continues to rise this season on the NFL draft boards.

Illinois v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

It was a weird day in the Big Ten: Minnesota boat-raced Purdue. Ohio State only scored one offensive touchdown until garbage time at the end of the game. Michigan and Rutgers were tied in the second quarter.

And Nebraska and Illinois combined to play an old-style WAC offensive shootout, combining for 1,115 yards and 89 points on a breezy, frigid day.

Who said that Scott Frost’s offense wouldn’t work when November weather arrived in Big Ten territory?

Well, maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised. Illinois’ defense is the worst in the Big Ten this season, and Nebraska’s isn’t much better. And the last few weeks, Nebraska’s offense has been really clicking. Our Paul Dalen points out that over the last four weeks, the Huskers rank third in the nation in total offense.

The defense, on the other hand, wasn’t very good. Mind you, Illinois has figured out how to run the ball this season, averaging nearly 250 yards per game and ranked 11th nationally. And even after the Big Ten’s third leading running back, Reggie Corbin, left with an injury, Illinois kept on running the damned ball all over and through the Nebraska defense. Props go out to former Nebraska quarterback A.J. Bush, who showed he could play at this level, unlike some of his doubters. Still, that’s not reassuring.

So here’s the report card, and as always, your comments are welcome in the comments.

QB: Adrian Martinez had another good, but not quite great day. He started really strong on a tough day to play quarterback, but a couple of freshman mistakes (interception into double coverage and a fumble) in the second half were black marks. You can get away with those against Illinois; might not against the Spartans this week. Grade: B+

I-Back: I noted to myself that Devine Ozigbo seemed to be having an off-day, midway through the second quarter. Then a play later, Ozigbo burst right down the middle of the field for a 66 yard touchdown, and the rout was on. Ozigbo’s story needs to be documented for future players on how to respond when things aren’t quite working out for you on the field. Simply work harder and get better. Maurice Washington had a nice 49 yard run before he left the game with an injury; hopefully, he’s ready to go next week. Grade: A

Wide Receiver: Stanley Morgan just made plays on a tough day to catch the ball. A few drops by the group as the day went on and hands got colder. Still want to see someone step up from the backups; this week, NU tried to feed Kade Warner, sometimes well, but once forced into double coverage for an interception. Grade: A-

Offensive Line: Three sacks allowed and a holding call isn’t a great day; I’ll forgive the second holding call, because people watching the replay realized it was a bogus call. But rushing for 316 yards is good, so it grades out as a B.

Defensive Line: When you give up nearly 400 yards rushing, the defensive line and linebackers didn’t have a great day. But expecting a defensive lineman to be able to run down an athletic quarterback like Bush is asking a bit much. Props to Mick Stoltenberg for battling through his injuries; gotta love the interception he had to finish off the game. His work in rebuilding the culture that was trashed by the previous regime might be more valuable than his on-field accomplishments. Grade: C

Linebackers: Mohammed Barry led with 11 tackles, but it was a rather unproductive day in slowing down the Illinois ground game. Grade: C-

Secondary: Tre Neal bounced back nicely this week with two forced fumbles and ten tackles. My first thought on the Dicaprio Bootle pass interference penalty was that it was a bad call. Grade: C

Overall: B It’s a nice feeling to build a lead against a potentially bowl eligible opponent that’s large enough to get the reserves in.

Poll

Grade the Huskers against Illinois

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A - Absolutely dominating on both sides of the ball
    (2 votes)
  • 86%
    B - Offense was good, defense had their issues
    (564 votes)
  • 8%
    C - Cccccccc-old.
    (54 votes)
  • 5%
    D - Don’t think Illinois was any good.
    (35 votes)
655 votes total Vote Now

Elsewhere in College Football

Minnesota: A Where the heck was this?

Purdue: 0 Wha’ Da Fuque?

Michigan State: D The defense is legit. The offense is legitimately awful, ala pre-Connor Cook.

B1G West: F When Northwestern wins the west two weeks early despite going 0-3 in the non-conference portion of the schedule.