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Nebraska Leaves Illinois with a Close Win and Much to be Concerned About

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And The Morning After

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

After a close game against a team that lost to Eastern Michigan the week prior, my only solace is that fact that Scott Frost looked about how I felt after that game. Slightly relieved, but mostly disappointed. These feelings for Frost are likely on orders of magnitude greater than mine as he is the one investing his own time and energy into a football program he clearly loves.

We can hang our hat on that at least.

What we cannot hang our hat on is expecting to win games in which we turn the ball over four times and commit 11 penalties for almost 120 yards.

Good thing we played Illinois last night rather than almost anybody else in the conference.

Illinois came into this season as the unanimous last ranked team in the division and they did not look like it tonight. They started the game flying around making plays. We learned about the future NFL players on both sides of the ball for the Fighting Illini from the commentators on TV and how this was not the same team Illinois fans saw the week prior.

Illinois looked like a team that will be a problem for the rest of the Big Ten as the season rolls along. Unfortunately that is likely not the case.

Maybe Illinois looked fast because Nebraska looked slow.

Maybe Illinois looked dangerous because Nebraska looked uninterested.

Could it be because players and coaches were looking ahead to Ohio State? I actually hope so. The whole “trap game” excuse can actually help me wrap my brain around what happened last night. However, if that lame excuse doesn’t hold up then grab on tight or let go because we are in for a long season.

Ohio State is coming to town next week, and unfortunately ESPN Game Day is going to be in Lincoln as well. The spotlight will be in Lincoln. It will likely be the best team Nebraska sees all season until Wisconsin comes to town. Couldn’t ESPN Game Day wait until then?

There are so many things to fix while programs like Ohio State and Wisconsin look light years ahead of Nebraska.

What are the reasons to smile tonight? Almost 700 yards of total offense, Wan’Dale Robinson and the Blackshirts.

The smile might hide the feeling of disappointment as a Nebraska football team, again, looked mentally unengaged and sloppy. Luckily, the man at the head of the football program is fully aware, likely even more so than any Nebraska fan, about what needs to be done to fix this program.

Hopefully, sooner than later games like these stop happening. Until that time we can wait patiently for the Ohio State Buckeyes to come to town on Saturday.


The Morning After...

Fast Takes after the Huskers overcome themselves against Illini
Could Nebraska get out of its own way? Why is Husker football so weird?

Good questions you were asking. Yes, to the first one, they did just enough. To the second one, I just dunno man.

Here are some Fast Takes after this wild night in Champaign that ended with, yes, a Nebraska 42-38 win.

Domann brings the big hits in Husker comeback
JoJo Domann doesn’t know exactly what was going on either, if you want the truth of it. All he knows is that a quarterback was running around even as his O-line stood still. Hmmm…. Suspicious.

Better just go hit him.

Robinson has breakout performance
Nebraska freshman Wan’Dale Robinson came to Lincoln with the reputation and production as a do-everything offensive athlete, and backed up that reputation in Nebraska’s win over Illinois.

Robinson did a little bit of everything for Nebraska down the stretch. With sophomore running back Maurice Washington in the locker room in the second half because of an injury, Robinson stepped up as a running back after halftime, while putting together his finest game in his young Husker career.

Husker defense pushes back against the weirdness
It is the kind of game that would make any statistician erase the numbers off the board and carry on to lunch pretending they'd never been seen.

What is this madness? Will Honas was still trying to get his mind around it in the quiet of the empty stadium after Nebraska's 42-38 win over Illinois on Saturday that was ... confusing? Exhilarating? Maddening? Weirder than a "Black Mirror" episode?

Report Card: Two ugly grades, three good ones for Nebraska
Nebraska football managed to survive and advance to the next week with a winning record in Big Ten play after coming back from multiple 14-point deficits on the road to beat Illinois on Saturday.

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it was sort of fun in a strange, unhealthy way.

This report card gets passing grades, but Nebraska can and needs to do better against the rest of the Big Ten slate.

An Insane, Intense, Maddening and Memorable Night in Champaign | Hail Varsity ($)
After Nebraska’s collapse at Colorado, head coach Scott Frost said the Huskers’ margin for error was “pretty small right now.”

They made it microscopic at Illinois on Saturday, fumbling four times and losing all four. The Illini had a 15-yard edge in average starting field position. Based on that alone, the expected score in this game was somewhere close to 42-27, Illinois. Three of the Illini’s five touchdown drives on the day covered less than 40 yards.

Three Thoughts as Huskers Find a Way to Big Ten-Opening 42-38 Win | Hail Varsity
Nebraska ran up 690 yards of offense, held Illinois under 100 yards passing, had a wild special teams performance even by NU standards and found a way to come back from down 14 twice to beat Illinois (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) on the road.

A road losing streak is over. The Huskers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) are leaving a foreign Memorial Stadium with a 42-38 win.

The Huskers face No. 6 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) next Saturday at home under the lights. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on ABC.

Here are three thoughts from the Big Ten opener.

They Said It: Nebraska Players Discuss Huskers' 42-38 Win Over Illinois | Hail Varsity
Nebraska players met with the media Saturday night following the Huskers’ 42-38 win over Illinois. Nebraska racked up 690 total yards in the game despite turning the ball over four times. It was the first road win for the Huskers under Coach Scott Frost and the 900th win in program history.

Here’s the transcript from his question-and-answer session postgame.

Illinois defense forces turnovers, but is gashed by Nebraska in loss | Illini | herald-review.com
The Illinois defense was supposed to be different this year. The big plays, countless yards and excessive points were supposed to be in the past. This group, they said, was older, wiser and had a bravado to it that was supposed to translate on the field.

The Illini won their first two games, and largely benefited from their defensive play. Last week, though, the defense was picked apart by Eastern Michigan, which turned out to be a prequel to Saturday's 42-38 home loss against Nebraska in the Big Ten opener.

Turnovers help Illinois build a lead, but Adrian Martinez leads Nebraska back for a 42-38 win - Chicago Tribune
Illinois said last week’s loss to Eastern Michigan wouldn’t define the team. Saturday night’s 42-38 loss to Nebraska might haunt the Illini even more.

The atmosphere seemed ripe for an upset in the first quarter with the Illini playing under the Memorial Stadium lights for a rare night game, but Nebraska pulled out a 42-38 win.

Illinois gives away conference opener, loses to Nebraska, 42-38 - The Champaign Room
That’s not the way you want to start off conference play.

One week removed from suffering its first loss of the season in the final seconds against Eastern Michigan, Illinois’s ground attack wasn’t enough its first Big Ten game of the season versus Nebraska in a 42-38 loss on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

Where to now? - The Champaign Room
The stage was set with a Big Ten opener, and the Illini — for the most part — are playing at full strength (or at least what full strength will be this season).

And, on the second play from scrimmage, Reggie Corbin does Reggie Corbin things.

Four hours later, the Orange and Blue clad fans are dejected, the Cornhusker faithful are celebrating their first road win in nearly two years, and Illinois’ head coach is telling the media “We were content.” when it comes to not trying to score (AGAIN) before the half.