The Huskers and Fighting Illini are meeting in Week 0 because the game was originally set to be played in Ireland, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the game to be moved to Illinois.
Head Coach Scott Frost begins his fourth season at his alma mater in 2021, while Saturday’s season opener marks the Illinois head coaching debut for Bret Bielema. The Huskers saw their four-game win streak in the series snapped last season, as Illinois earned the victory in Lincoln.
Nebraska has won the past two meetings in Champaign, and the Huskers bring a two-game road winning streak into Saturday’s game after the Huskers won at Purdue and Rutgers last December. Nebraska went 2-3 away from home last season with all three losses to teams that finished the year ranked in the top 20, including one-possession losses at No. 10 Northwestern and No. 16 Iowa.
The Huskers return a veteran defense that brings back 15 players who earned at least one start last season. Eight players who started at least seven of Nebraska’s eight games last season return this fall, including Marquel Dismuke, JoJo Domann and Garrett Nelson, who each started every game in 2020.
Offensively, Adrian Martinez is back for his fourth year as Nebraska’s starting quarterback. Martinez, who owns four Nebraska career records and five season marks, is one of only four active FBS players with 5,000 career passing yards and 1,500 career rushing yards. He was second among all FBS quarterbacks in rushing during the 2020 season (74.4 ypg), while ranking fourth in completion percentage (71.5).
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Illinois Illini
Date/Time: August 28, 2021 at 12:20 pm CDT - Big Noon Kickoff y’all!
Location: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Surface: Field Turf
Opposition Blog: Check out The Champaign Room for everything Illini
Series Record: Nebraska leads the all-time series 13-4-1.
TV: The game will be televised on Fox with play-by-play by Joe Davis and Brock Huard as the analyst. It can be streamed on the Fox Sports Go app (although I wonder if that was a mistake in the game notes - it might be on the Fox Sports app, since I don’t think the FSGo app exists anymore).
Radio: Find your local station on the Huskers sports radio network. The audio can also be streamed live for free at huskers.com The crew will be: Greg Sharpe, Matt Davison, and Jeremiah Sirles with Jessica Coody on pre- and post-game shows.
More streaming options: The official Huskers app is available on iTunes and Google Play. Audio for Husker games will no longer be on TuneIn (sad face). The Huskers app has been incredibly glitchy for me and I have to reload it every five minutes. Hopefully it isn’t the same for you if you are depending on it to listen to the game.
Weather: It will be a warm one. It is expected to be sunny and over 80 degrees at kickoff with a high temperature reaching 90. The trainers will have their work cut out for them.
Odds: Nebraska is favored by 7 points.
- Saturday’s opener between Nebraska and Illinois will mark the earliest date of a Big Ten Conference game in history. The previous earliest date of a conference game in Big Ten history was Aug. 30, 2018, when Northwestern won at Purdue, 31-27.
- Nebraska has averaged at least 200 rushing yards in each of Scott Frost’s first three seasons. The Huskers are the only team from a Power Five Conference to average 200 rushing yards per game each of the last three seasons (2018, 2019, 2020).
- Nebraska has played 14 games in August in program history, and the Huskers are 14-0 in those contests. Nebraska is 2-0 when facing a conference opponent in August, defeating Oklahoma State in 1995 (64-21) and 2003 (17-7).