Nebraska Opens as a Ten Point Favorite Over Illinois
If you did some scouting of Illinois this weekend, you might have become concerned by what you saw. The Illini offense looked creative and potent. The defense looked solid. Sure, they were facing a winless Miami of Ohio squad. Hanging half a hundred and winning by five touchdowns is a pretty good day's work against anyone though.
Ten point favorites (as Nebraska is at home this week) win about three quarters of the time. Statistically, the Illini defense has given up fewer average yards (both rushing and passing) and points per game and have gotten a lot more out of their return game. Offensively, they've done a better job passing, and a better job converting third and fourth downs. They've also committed fewer penalties per game.
Nebraska can be glad this game is at home. NU has been the much better rushing team, which has led to more total yards and more points per game. The Huskers have been more efficient in defending the pass and done a better job punting. Nebraska has been winning the turnover battle (Illinois hasn't) and gotten more tackles for loss (including sacks) and allowed the fewest sacks per game in the nation. Surprisingly, NU has had the better third down defense. The Huskers have also been better on both sides of the ball in the red zone.
With the Miami game in the books, the schedule strength (by wins and losses) is even. So that would imply that these statistics might be useful. On paper, this doesn't look like a game where the Huskers just cruise. Instead, it appears like it could be a hard-fought game that isn't decided until the fourth quarter, with NU icing it with a late score.
Hopefully, the Huskers have put their time off to good use. This is homecoming, so you expect it to be a game where Nebraska is focused and alive. Add the extra half hour to the DVR, this one could go down to the wire.