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Week Zero Predictions: Huskers at Illinois

The CN staff looks into their crystal ball. What do they see?

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Aer Lingus College Football Classic - Georgia Tech v Boston College
Thanks to COVID, Aviva Stadium is empty this weekend, with the game moved back to Champaign.
Photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mike: Once again, it’s time for the worst prediction thread in all of college football...and this year, we get an early start with a week zero matchup that was supposed to be in Ireland.

Jill: Wooo! Football! We get to find out a week earlier than most years whether our hope is justified or whether we are in for another soul-withering season of holding our head in our hands and wondering why we chose this team.

Patrick: This week is either going to determine the entire season for Nebraska or it will just get us to the Oklahoma game. We will find out on Big Noon Saturday!

Nate M: I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down. I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down. I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down. I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.

Andy K.: Alright, you crazy bastards! Strap in & let’s do this. And please - you’re in or you’re out. Keep your distance if you’re one of that new breed of giggly, not-really-committed social Husker fans that start sarcastically snarking the boys in RED the moment anything turns a touch negative. Fox Labs Mean Green pepper spray blinds at up to 15 feet and will dye-mark you emerald for weeks as the low-down sunshine Husker patriot you are. Be warned.

We don’t need your kind in Nebraska. Now - on to the picks.

Hawai’i (+18) at UCLA

Mike: UCLA went 3-4 last season... and those four losses were by a combined 15 points. They have just about everybody back from last season, Aloha po, Rainbow Warriors. UCLA 51, Hawai’i 24

Jill: Last season I watched college football, outside of South Dakota State, out of a sense of obligation (sorry Huskers, it’s true and you know why). That means I didn’t stay up to watch #PAC12AfterDark or any of the WAC. Therefore, I’m going to plagiarize Mike’s answer and change it just enough that he doesn’t notice (don’t tell my students). UCLA 44 Hawai’i 19

Patrick: This game really should be on at 11:00pm CST. University of California Los Angeles 42 University of Hawaii 9

Nate M: Pissing the night away. Pissing the night away. UCLA by 25.

Jon: I worry a lot about Nate M’s mental health. I am looking forward to watching UCLA play football. UCLA 34, Hawaii 17

Andy: Nate’s mental health is fine. Unhinged, semi-armed, a bit defensive and somewhat polluted is what will carry us through this glorious season. Yes, there will be…mishaps. An accident perhaps. It’s fine. The best stories have a scar or two and perhaps a brush with the local constabulary. Gauze, peroxide and perhaps a stitch or two are to be expected.

Oh yeah, just saw Hawaii’s 2020 schedule which ended 4-4. Colt Brennan ain’t comin’ through that door. UCLA 38 Hawaii 15 Brawls 2

Nebraska (-7) at Illinois

Mike: Scott Frost’s offense just hasn’t been the same since Stanley Morgan headed to the NFL. You remember Morgan, the only 1,000 yard receiver in Nebraska history, right? Nebraska really hasn’t had a receiver like Morgan the last two years, and quite frankly, it’s discombobulated the offense the last two seasons. There just hasn’t been a consistent downfield option, and that’s been the biggest problem I’ve seen with the offense. All of the other problems were symptoms. Interceptions because the quarterbacks can’t find a receiver. Fumbles because the quarterback scrambles (or runs the ball because it’s our most consistent offensive play).

So now, the new receiver room emerges. Bye-bye 5’10” Wan’Dale Robinson, hello 6’3” Samori Toure and 6’4” Omar Manning. Oh, and a 6’2” Zavier Betts, who has a better idea what he’s doing in this offense.

Maybe I’m all wet, or drunk on Cobby’s elixir, but I’m ready to think that maybe Frost’s offense might have some consistent options other than the quarterback run. Last year’s loss to Illinois being a great example: Luke McCaffrey rushed the ball 26 times and threw the ball 26 times... with four turnovers before finally getting pulled in a bad loss. This year is different, because Nebraska has better weapons to support the quarterback in 2021. Huskers 45, Illini 24.

Jill: I really feel like I should write two predictions, the one I want and the one I’m preparing myself to accept. Here goes...

Scenario 1: Nebraska does show some real progress in discipline and details. It isn’t perfect, but the penalties are reduced and the Huskers avoid turning the ball over. We find a workhorse running back and while no receiver emerges yet, the improved depth is clearly an asset in keeping the chains moving. Austin Allen is still tall (drink) and plucks one out of the air in the back of the end zone that no one else on the field could have grabbed. The defense is solid and the secondary shuts down the questionable Illini pass game, letting Chinander focus on the run game. The Illini find some yards on the ground, but the attack mentality of the Blackshirts forces some mistakes and turnovers. By the fourth quarter, it is evident the Huskers are winning the line of scrimmage. #BeefJurgyForPresident #ThatsCaptainSnacksToYou. Nebraska 38 Illinois 18

Scenario 2: The Illini run blitz and pressure the Huskers’ revamped power run game and hope the Nebraska pass game is still a mess. Their calculation proves to be a good one as Adrian is scrambling, the run game has a hard time finding holes, and recievers don’t have time to get open on third and long. The defense is okay, but constantly defending short fields leads to Illinois points. The tense energy around the Husker program becomes evident in penalties and boneheaded mistakes that stall drives. Nebraska still manages to get some big plays on offense and adjustments by the coaches improve things a little as the game goes on, but it isn’t enough. Illinois 28 Nebraska 21

I’ll take Door #1. Please.

Patrick: Bert should get a tattoo of every school he has coached at on his leg. The Tigerhawk is getting lonely. University of Nebraska 32 University of Illinois 12

Nate M: He drinks a whiskey drink. He drinks a vodka drink. He drinks a lager drink. He drinks a cider drink. He sings the songs that remind him of the good times. He sings the songs that remind of the better times.

Illinois 35 - Nebraska 24


I plan on doing prediction videos because I enjoy ranting in front of a camera. I talk myself into believing this will be a much closer game than I thought.

Andy: (A quick chug from a short glass and away we go..)

Of course, just what we wanted to hear when we’re fairly excited for a game - temps around 90 with a 40% chance of thunderstorms. I swear to gawd, if they start talking lightning strikes, I. Will. Lose. My. Shit. Not again, God, unless you want to strap on the pads and come play us just once.

So much for the what-if’s, can we’s, if this, if that, blah, blah, blah. Enough talk, just kick the damn ball off, pin back your ears, smack some pads, run like hell, and have the time of your life, Huskers.

Take all the snark, the non-belief, the transferring, the coach rumors, the office McMurphy leakers, the thin-skinned McCaffrey tweets, the aforementioned half-fans, the analyst-investigating from those useless En-Cee-Double-A’s and just do what fictional TV legend Coach Eric Taylor would demand of you.

Play with Clear Eyes, Full Hearts and run BERT ALL THE WAY TO BACK TO GODDAMNED ARKANSAS. Huskers 44 Illinois 13. That is all. Everyone get home safe.