Illinois (1-2, 0-0 Big Ten ) at No. 15 Nebraska (4-0, 1-0), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Line: Nebraska by 20 ½.
Series record: Nebraska leads 9-3-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Nebraska can’t afford a slip-up as a big favorite after a 4-0 start that has pushed it to the forefront as a contender in the Big Ten West. Last year’s debacle in Champaign — bungled play-calling that led to a 14-13 loss — should provide added motivation. The Illini have lost two straight and are coming off a bye week. They have winnable games after this week. Lincoln is not the place to cure what ails them.
Nebraska offensive line against Illinois defensive line. The Huskers are missing right guard Tanner Farmer because of injury, and Corey Whitaker will make his first start against an impressive Illini front four. Nebraska’s offensive line has allowed three sacks in four games and cleared the way for a running attack averaging 242 yards a game. The Illini average almost 11 tackles for loss per game, and Carroll Phillips and Dawuane Smoot are an imposing pair of defensive ends.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Illinois: QB Wes Lunt has thrown six TDs against one interception so far. But this will be his first road game of the season, and his biggest challenge will be converting third downs in an intimidating stadium. The Illini are 102nd nationally on third down conversions.
Nebraska: TE Cethan Carter had two receptions and scored his first touchdown of the season against Northwestern as offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf made it a point to get him more involved. Look for more of the same this week.
FACTS & FIGURES
Huskers are going for their eighth win in nine games since last season. … Nebraska has outscored opponents 57-6 in the fourth quarter. … Illinois is tied for the national lead with 4.33 sacks a game. … This is the third time in four years that Illinois has been the Huskers’ homecoming opponent. Nebraska is 79-22-4 all-time on homecoming. … Illinois is 1-7 in Lincoln, with its lone win coming in 1924.
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