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Nebraska 22 Illinois 30 Recap

That was not ideal

2021 Big Ten Football Media Day Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Which Husker team will show up today? The one we heard about in fall camp (taking care of business, including little details) or the one we’ve seen on the field (turnovers, penalties, missed assignments...)?

First Quarter

The Huskers got the ball first and our starting running back is Gabe Ervin, Jr. Samori Toure registers the first reception - it was a very cautious careful throw by Adrian who lofted it very softly - but hey, a completion is a completion.

The Illini are ready for the run game. They want to give no quarter there. Punt. Daniel Cerni is the punter and only gets off a 26 yarder. Yikes.

The Illini came out gunning for their tight end and moved the sticks immediately. They went to the ground after that and the Blackshirts registered two tackles for loss, bringing up third and 15. Quinton Newsome is playing opposite Cam Taylor-Britt.

Punt. The Illini nailed a perfect coffin corner punt that went out of bounds inside the one yard line.

Turner Corcoran has replaced Brant Banks at left tackle. The freshman running back gets Nebraska out of the shadow of their end zone but the Huskers punted again in short order and Cerni got a much better one off this time. I think it is safe to say that the Husker offense is still trying to find their footing.

SACK! Pheldarius Payne!

[Deleted the celebratory gif because of what happened next]

And then all enjoyment was sucked out of the room as Cam Taylor-Britt made a very poor decision to field a puntand then try to throw it out of the end zone which resulted in a safety. CTB is putting a lot of pressure on himself, but he has made two critical mistakes so far.

Illinois 2 Nebraska 0

The Illini took advantage of the extra possession and the first play from scrimmage took them to the Husker 30. A rattled Husker team that can’t overcome mistakes...we’ve seen this before.

Deontre Thomas and Garrett Nelson shared a sack, which knocked Peters out of the game (for now - we’ll see how serious it is).


The Blackshirts are trying hard to lift their offense. The Illini field goal (55 yard attempt) was wide right.

An Illini facemask penalty moved Nebraska to midfield and then a wide open Markese Stepp caught a ball to move the Huskers to the red zone.

Second Quarter

This is such a #BigTen game when you have a 2-0 score, right?

Samori Toure gave Nebraska a first and goal and the 1 12 yard line running a jet sweep against BERT!


The Connor Culp extra point was no good. We have to make it as hard as possible. #TheNebraskaWay

Nebraska 6 Illinois 2

The kickoff by Brendan Franke (I had to look at my roster too) was a touchback! We can have some nice-ish special teams things once in a very great while.

Deonte Williams put an end to the Illini drive and forced a punt.

OLIVER MARTIN!!! moved Nebraska nearly to the red zone within one play.

After a couple of “oh so close” plays - Adrian overthew Liewer in the end zone and overthrew Austin Allen on third down (how do you overthrow a 6’9” guy?!?) - resulted in a 27 yard field goal attempt by Culp. Good!

Nebraska 9 Illinois 2

A Cam Taylor-Britt interception was negated by a Caleb Tannor roughing the passer penalty and a tuanting penalty on Nebraska. and set up the Illini near the red zone.

Missed holding calls allowed the Illini to get right down to the goal line. Touchdown Illinois.

Nebraska 9 Illinois 9

The Huskers get the ball with 2:51 left in the half.

And they give it back to Illinois with 1:45 left in the half. #FunFact, the Illini get the ball to start the first half.

The Blackshirts (Reimer forced a fumble and Farmer recovered) force a turnover.

Adrian overthrows his receiver (drink) - a wide open Chris Hickman. We saw this last season and hoped we wouldn’t see more.

Omar Manning sighting with 47 seconds left.

Prepare yourselves.

Adrian Martinez is strip sacked and the Illini scoop-and-score.

Illinois 16 Nebraska 9


Ok. We know we are in for more of the same from the past three seasons. Even if Nebraska pulls this off and wins the game, we have seen the same old, same old. The Huskers have not turned a corner. They may be bigger, faster or strong, but they are making mistakes at the same rate.

I lowered my expectations for this season and probably was still too optimistic.

  • True freshman running back Gabe Ervin Jr. made his first career start. Ervin Jr. is the first Nebraska true freshman running back to start a season opener in the modern era. Ervin Jr. is just the seventh position player to start a season opener as a true freshman joining Ralph Brown (CB, 1996), Terrence Nunn (WR, 2004), Tyler Moore (OT, 2011), Dedrick Young (LB, 2015), Adrian Martinez (QB, 2018), Wandale Robinson (WR, 2019).
  • Outside linebacker Garrett Nelson recorded a 3-yard TFL on Illinois’ first drive and added a half-sack later in the quarter. It marks the fourth straight game Nelson has recorded at least one tackle for loss.
  • Outside linebacker Pheldarius Payne had two sacks for 11 yards lost in the first quarter, marking his second and third career sacks. Payne had his first career sack in last year’s season finale at Rutgers.

Third Quarter

The Illini marched down the field on their first possession of the second half and had a first down in the red zone as the clock moved under 9 12 minutes.

The Blackshirts seem to have caught whatever was ailing the offense. Touchdown Illinois. The Illini used eight minutes on a scoring drive.

I think it is safe to say that Illinois’ halftime adjustments are better than Nebraska’s.

Illinois 23 Nebraska 9

I think most Nebraska fans have seen enough to start looking up the volleyball team’s schedule.

Nothing we have seen indicates that this team has taken a step forward in any way. I want it to be different. You want it to be different. But, it isn’t.

It continues to get worse. I can’t even summon the gifs.

Illinois senses blood in the water and the Blackshirts are starting to buckle...

First and goal. Illinois.

Touchdown Illini.

Illinois 30 Nebraska 9


Illinois 30 Nebraska 16

The Blackshirts find some mojo again and force a punt with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Oliver Martin fair catches at the 21 yard line.

Fourth Quarter

The new housecat thought he would take up his chair next to me and have some naps and occasionally request some attention. He is experiencing his first Husker game with Jill. He may be permanently traumatized. #SorryTeddy


Holding on the next play. Sigh. Then a sack. Second and 27. We got them where we want them!

Or not.

Third and 17. Incomplete at midfield.

The Illini took their resulting possession to midfield early in the fourth Q.

Even if Nebraska comes back and wins this game, Husker fans will recognize this team and the incompetence that comes with it. This is not progress.

I reluctantly type the previous sentence. I want to move forward. I don’t expect Playoff teams quite yet, but progress would be nice. This is not a team showing any signs of progress and we must all accept that now.

I don’t have any advice on what comes next. I don’t think that firing coaches every few years builds a program. I also thing that a coach needs to show some semblence of improvement to keep his job. If I am being honest - no one will have more support than Scott Frost. We need for him to succeed and he has not shown that ability (as a coach) yet. I don’t think any other coach will get as much help or support as Frost.

At 6:34 in the fourth quarter, Nebraska faces a 3rd and three at the 34 and Adrian Martinez shows up that he is not washed up as he evades the free rusher and converts.

Sigh. High snap loses 15. Second and 24.


Fourth down converted by a Martinez sneak. First and goal.

No one covers Oliver Martin. Touchdown. The extra point is no good.

Illinois 30 Nebraska 22

Illinois keeps the ball on the ground (smartly) as the clock goes under two minutes.

Can the Blackshirts do this???

They force a punt with exactly one minute left.

54 seconds and no timeouts for the Husker offense.

25 seconds. Third and 10.

19 seconds. Fourth and 10.


Illinois wins.

We must accept our fate this season.