Nebraska won the toss, but deferred. Illinois started with the ball.
Illinois 6 - Nebraska 0
Illinois scored within the first 2:30 of the game’s beginning. Chase Brown had 2 carries for 5 yards on the opening drive.
Tommy DeVito hit Isaiah Williams for a 46-yard pass on a short crossing route on 3rd down. DeVito was 2-2 for 66 yards, and 1 TD on the opening drive for a quarterback rating of 542.2.
Illinois missed the PAT.
Scoring Drive: 5 plays, 75 yards, 02:27
Nebraska’s first possession ends in an interception. Nebraska moved the ball well, but Casey Thompson chose to throw into coverage to Travis Vokolek rather than hitting a wide open receiver for a shorter gain. On the next play, Thompson threw to Palmer, missing him and Jartavius Martin intercepted the ball.
Anthony Grant had 41 yards on two touches on the drive.
Nebraska forced a punt, did nothing with the ball, then forced another punt after DeVito stepped out of bounds short of the first down market on third down.
Illinois 6 - Nebraska 3
Nebraska got points on the board, going on a 9-play, 73 yard drive that featured a well-executed screen play to Chancellor Brewington. The play gained 45 yards, ending in the Illinois red zone.
Thompson missed a throw, Anthony Grant ran for 8 yards up the middle, but was stuffed on third down. On 4th and 2, Timmy Bleekrode kicked a 26-yard field goal.
Scoring Drive: 9 plays, 73 yards, 03:15
Nebraska 9 - Illinois 6
Illinois had a drive that got all the way to the Nebraska 22. On the next play, Illinois ran a trick play that resulted in a 12-yard loss as Isaiah Williams ran out of bounds instead of throwing the ball away. Illinois appeared to hit a 52-yard field goal, but called timeout, icing their own kicker. The next play was an Illinois false start, after which Nebraska got the ball back after a 32-yard punt.
Our beloved Huskers went on a 5-play, 93-yard scoring drive. Two big plays. Thompson hit Alante Brown for 32 yards to the Nebraska 37. Then Thompson hit Travis Vokolek for a 56-yard touchdown reception.
The extra point was blocked.
Scoring Drive: 5 plays, 93 yards, 00:00
Illinois 13 - Nebraska 9
Casey Thompson was hit in the middle of his throwing motion, causing the ball to flutter in the air forever. It was picked off by Sydney Brown, who returned it 37 yards to the Nebraska 11.
Chase Brown had two carries, one for 10 yards, the other a 1-yard touchdown run. Caleb Griffin hit the PAT attempt.
Scoring Drive: 2 plays, 11 yards, 00:28
Illinois 20 - Nebraska 9
Casey Thompson was injured on the previous drive, so Logan Smothers took the field. Nebraska went three and out, then Illinois turned to Chase Brown to gain yardage and churn clock.
Illinois started at the 28. 9 plays later, Tommy DeVito pass hit Chase Brown for 12 yds for a TD. Brown had five running plays on the drive.
Scoring Drive: 9 plays, 60 yards, 4:01
The tale of the first half came down to two Nebraska turnovers, both Thompson interceptions, and Thompson’s injury. Nebraska had a few missed opportunities, especially one where Thompson was slightly behind Rahmir Johnson on a throw. Had Johnson been able to make the catch, he may have turned on the jets and scored.
The defense played reasonably well, relatively speaking, giving up 82 rushing yards, and 225 total.