Here are today's keys to victor for Nebraska vs. Illinois, along with the HuskerOnline score predictions for Saturday.
{{ timeAgo('2020-11-21 02:30:00 -0600') }} football Edit

Illinois vs. Nebraska: Keys to victory, HOL score predictions

Nebraska will try to win back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since Nov. 17 of 2018 on Saturday.

The Huskers (1-2) are fresh off a 30-23 victory over Penn State, while Illinois (1-3) comes to Lincoln after winning against Rutgers last weekend.

As we get closer to kickoff, here are today's keys to victory for Nebraska vs. Illinois, along with the HuskerOnline Saturday score predictions.

NU enters today's game as a 15.5 point favorite vs. the Illini. It is the first time Nebraska has been favored in a game this season. Kickoff is set for 11 am and the game can be seen on FS1.

KEYS TO VICTORY: Illinois at Nebraska 

KEY 1: Find more explosive plays on offense

Can Nebraska's offense find more plays 20 yards or longer on Saturday? That has made things a lot harder over NU's first three games. They need to get things figured out today on offense, and that starts with creating more big plays.

KEY 2: Contain Illinois's QB run game

Last week I thought Penn State did a nice job of playing the numbers game and making Nebraska pay on defense with their QB run game. I expect Illinois to do the same with both Brandon Peters and Isaiah Williams. The Huskers need to be sound against Illinos's QB run game.

KEY 3: Special teams needs to come up big again

Last week we saw Nebraska's special teams make all of their field goal attempts, and most importantly give the Huskers the edge in field position. Nine of Penn State's first 10 drives started inside their own 30-yard line. Can NU win the field position game two weeks in a row>

KEY 4: Get off the field on third down

A big problem for Nebraska this year has been third-down defense. Opponents have completed 50 percent of third downs and 6-of-8 of fourth-down conversations. The Huskers need to do a better job today of getting off the field on third down.

KEY 5: Play relaxed

This is a nice stretch for Nebraska, as they are at home two weeks in a row, before hitting the road two weeks in a row. The Big Red needs to come out loose and ready to go. This is a game they should win and they need to win in order to get this season back on track.


EXPERT TAKE: Illinois at Nebraska 

Sean Callahan - HuskerOnline Publisher

I think Nebraska wins this game, but Illinois will give their defense a challenge at times with the mobility of Isaiah Williams at quarterback. I look for the Husker offense to find a better stride today and create more big plays. Scott Frost has put up over 600 yards each time he's faced Lovie Smith.

Nebraska 38, Illinois 27

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Robin Washut - HuskerOnline Senior Writer

For the first time in far too long, Nebraska finally has some positive momentum on its side. Now it has a chance win back-to-back games for the first time in 14 months and get consecutive conference wins for the first time in over two full calendar years. Scott Frost has always had a good plan for Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense, and I see the Huskers making it two victories in a row.

Nebraska 31, Illinois 20

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Nate Clouse - HuskerOnline Lead Recruiting Analyst

Illinois is the only Big Ten foe Scott Frost and the Huskers have consistently beaten since arriving in Lincoln and that trend continues today. I see a McCaffrey-led offense rolling up some big numbers once again against the Illini. I think the defense continues to play well, especially if Brandon Peters is indeed the starter.

Nebraska 33, Illinois 20

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Mike'l Severe - 1620 the Zone

The Illinois pass defense is the worst Nebraska will see all season. On average, they are allowing nearly 80 yards more than their opponent's season avg. The Illini can run the ball pretty well so I expect them to have some success until they are down enough to have to go heavy pass. I would guess they start Brandon Peters cause that gives the best chance to win. Should be a get right game for Huskers' explosive plays.

Nebraska 41, Illinois 21

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Andy Kendeigh - KETV Channel 7 Sports Director

Scott Frost has seven Big Ten wins and two of them have been against Illinois. Nebraska has had success offensively against the Fighting Illini averaging 48 points and 640 yards in those two wins. If the Huskers can hang on to the football they will make it two conference wins in a row for the first time in two seasons.

Nebraska 42, Illinois 24

HuskerOnline Week 5 Score Predictions 
Week 5 Sean Callahan Robin Washut Nate Clouse Mike'l Severe Andy Kendeigh 

Illinois at Neb.

38-27

Neb.

31-20

Neb.

33-20

Neb.

41-21

Neb.

42-24

Neb.

Iowa at PSU

24-20

PSU

24-21

Iowa

28-24

Iowa

30-20

Iowa

17-13

Iowa

Ind. at OSU

41-17

OSU

42-35

OSU

45-24

OSU

42-20

OSU

48-31

OSU

Wisc. at NW.

27-23

Wisc.

23-19

Wisc.

28-21

Wisc.

23-17

Wisc.

31-21

Wisc.

Mich. at Rutgers

31-17

Mich.

16-11

Mich.

28-17

Mich.

27-14

Mich.

27-20

Mich.

OSU at Okla.

42-30

OU

41-31

OU

35-27

OU

38-30

OU

44-34

OU

HuskerOnline Score Prediction Standings 
Expert Picker Straight Up vs. the Spread  Cumulative Total 

Nate Clouse

HuskerOnline

12-6

11-7

23

Sean Callahan

HuskerOnline

12-6

9-9

21

Mike'l Severe

1620 the Zone

9-9

11-7

20

Robin Washut

HuskerOnline

11-7

8-10

19

Andy Kendeigh

KETV-ABC Omaha

9-9

8-10

17