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Illinois (3-1) at Nebraska (3-1)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 5, 12 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (87,000) -- Lincoln, Nebraska. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Illinois 3-0, Nebraska 3-1. Away Record: Illinois 0-0, Nebraska 0-0. Neutral Record: Illinois 0-1, Nebraska 0-0. Conference Record: Illinois 0-0, Nebraska 0-0. Series Record: Nebraska leads, 7-2-1.

GAME NOTES: For the first time as Big Ten Conference opponents, the Nebraska Cornhuskers will face the Illinois Fighting Illini as the two are set to square off Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

This marks the conference opener for both teams, and it is the first true road game of the season for Illinois. The Fighting Illini are looking to snap a 14- game conference losing streak dating back to 2011, although they have already eclipsed last year's win total with a 3-1 start after non-league play. They are coming off last weekend's 50-14 rout of Miami-Ohio.

Nebraska is coming off a bye and will have had two weeks to prepare. In their last action, the Cornhuskers wrapped up the non-league portion of their schedule with a 59-20 win over South Dakota State on Sept. 21. Saturday's Homecoming contest concludes the team's five-game homestand.

Nebraska leads the all-time series, 7-2-1, although this marks the first meeting between these two schools since 1986.

The Illinois offense is averaging a robust 478.5 yards and 40.2 points per contest, and the team has scored a school-record 161 points over its first four games.

The proverbial light bulb has seemingly illuminated for fourth-year starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who is completing 67 percent of his passes while averaging nearly 300 passing yards per game. Scheelhaase leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency (174.8, 10th), passing yards per game (290.5, 17th) and total offense (298.3 ypg, 27th) through four games. Last week against Miami, he set a school record for TD passes in a quarter when he threw four in the second quarter. For comparison, he totaled four TD passes in 10 starts all of last season.

The leader of the Illini defense is senior linebacker and Butkus Award candidate Jonathan Brown, who currently leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth nationally in tackles per game (11.8). Sophomore linebacker Mason Monheim is right on his heels, ranking second in the conference with 9.5 stops per game. That duo is to the defense what Scheelhaase has been to the offense.

As a unit, however, Illinois has had its struggles defending the pass until limiting Miami to only 95 passing yards last week. Still, Illinois ranks 97th nationally with 271.5 passing yards per game allowed. The Illini have notched only one interception on the season, a total they certainly hope to increase in this matchup. Despite giving up yards between the 20s, opponents have failed to score a touchdown in seven of 16 trips inside the red zone.

Nebraska's offense put on a clinic against South Dakota State, piling up 34 first downs to go along with 335 rushing yards and 310 passing yards to mark the first time in school history the team went over 300 yards in both rushing and passing. The 645 yards of total offense is the highest total in six seasons under coach Bo Pelini, and it marked the second time this season the Cornhuskers managed to eclipse 50 points on the scoreboard.

While the gaudy numbers came against an opponent from the FCS, they also came without injured starting quarterback Taylor Martinez, who is probable for Saturday's game with a foot injury. In his place against South Dakota State, Tommy Armstrong, Jr. and Ron Kellogg III combined to complete 20-of-24 passes for 305 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Ameer Abdullah tacked on 139 rushing yards and a score.

The defense has been another story for Nebraska, last Saturday's blowout win not withstanding. The unit enters Saturday's contest ranked 107th in the nation in total defense (463.8 ypg) and is allowing an average of 27.0 points per game. On the ground, opponents have averaged a healthy 4.9 yards per carry. The Huskers have also allowed 284.2 passing yards per game, although they have been able to generate nine interceptions.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste is among the national leaders with four interceptions, while teammate Ciante Evans has three. In the win over South Dakota State, Nebraska tallied five sacks and a pair of interceptions. However, Jackrabbits running back Zach Zenner went off for 202 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on 21 carries.

This matchup has all the makings of a high-scoring shootout, as both offenses can score in bunches while both defenses have been a bit too generous at times. Give a slight edge to the Cornhuskers, who are playing at home and have won 35-of-38 league openers.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska 45, Illinois 35

10/02 10:34:48 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0
 
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
KAN 2
DET 3
Final
CHC 8
LOS 7
Final
OAK 0
PHI 3
Final
NYY 3
TOR 6
Final
COL 5
ARI 1
Final
BAL 7
BOS 2
Final
PIT 0
MIL 1
Final
TAM 3
CWS 1
Final
MIN 3
CLE 7
Final
ATL 2
NYM 4
Final
HOU 10
SEA 1
Final
MIA 2
WAS 3
Final
STL 8
CIN 4
Final
SDP 3
SFG 2
Final
ANA 8
TEX 5
1:05pm Today
NYY
TOR
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
WAS
 
1:35pm Today
BAL
BOS
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
ATL
NYM
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
CWS
 
2:10pm Today
MIN
CLE
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
DET
 
2:10pm Today
HOU
SEA
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
LOS
 
3:35pm Today
ANA
TEX
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
8:05pm Tonight
STL
CIN
 
Final
WISC 68
BGU 17
Final
MSU 73
EMICH 14
Final
VT 24
GT 27
Final
PITT 20
IOWA 24
Final
RICE 42
ODU 45
Final
UGA 66
TROY 0
Final
SYR 20
MD 34
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
COL 21
HAW 12
Final
AKR 17
MARS 48
Final
WAKE 24
ARMY 21
Final
KU 24
CMICH 10
Final
ALA 42
UF 21
Final
FIU 3
LOU 34
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
Final
NAVY 24
RUTG 31
Final
SMU 6
TEXAM 58
Final
MICH 10
UTAH 26
Final
BYU 41
UVA 33
Final
WYO 20
FATL 19
Final
MIZZ 27
IND 31
Final
PSU 48
UMASS 7
Final
MINN 24
SJST 7
Final
ILL 42
TXST 35
Final
WASH 45
GASTATE 14
Final
SMISS 21
APPST 20
Final
TOL 34
BST 23
Final
OHIO 36
IDAHO 24
Final
CIN 31
UMO 24
Final
MEM 36
MTST 17
Final
LSU 29
MSST 34
Final
ARK 52
NILL 14
Final
ARKST 21
UTST 14
Final
SALABAMA 6
GASO 28
Final
WVU 33
OKLA 45
Final
VANDY 34
SCAR 48
Final
NEB 41
MIAMI 31
Final
NMST 35
NMU 38
Final
HOU 47
UNLV 14
Final
FSU 23
CLEM 17
Final
ARZ 49
CAL 45
Final
ORST 28
SDST 7
Final
WASU 31
OREG 38
Final
BSU 34
LALAF 9
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
5:00pm Tonight
WAS
BUF
 
6:30pm Tonight
CLB
STL
 
8:00pm Tonight
EDM
CAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CAL
EDM
 
1:00pm Today
CLE
BAL
1:00pm Today
STL
DAL
1:00pm Today
DET
GBP
1:00pm Today
NYG
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
IND
1:00pm Today
NOS
MIN
1:00pm Today
NEP
OAK
1:00pm Today
BUF
SDC
1:00pm Today
CIN
TEN
1:00pm Today
PHI
WAS
4:05pm Today
ARI
SFX
4:25pm Today
SEA
DEN
4:25pm Today
MIA
KAN
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0