Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:44 AM

Nebraska vs. Illinois Predictions, Odds, Preview

Aug. 28, 2021
Joe Williams
VI Betting Expert

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Predictions

Score Prediction - Nebraska 31, Illinois 20

The Cornhuskers will have revenge on their mind when they hit the road for Champaign to kick off their 2021 campaign. Nebraska was a 17-point favorite in Lincoln last Nov. 21 against Illinois, but the Fighting Illini picked up a 41-23 victory. The Cornhuskers tumbled to 1-3 after the setback, and the game served as a bit of a wake-up call. Nebraska ended up going 2-2 SU/3-1 ATS down the stretch, and its two losses were one-score games.

Meanwhile, Illinois turns to former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema to try and restore order to the proud football program. The Lovie Smith era was an absolute disaster, and that victory at Nebraska last season actually might have been his finest hour. There weren't many.

While Nebraska is just 2-6 ATS across the past eight games as a favorite, Illinois is just 3-7 ATS across the past 10 overall, and 1-4 ATS in the past five at home. Something's gotta give, and it's all about the experience of QB Adrian Martinez which will be the difference on Saturday.

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Best Bets

  • Nebraska -7
  • Under 55

Scott Frost is under a lot of pressure to turn the Nebraska Cornhuskers around this season, beginning with a road game vs. Illinois. (AP)

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Game Odds

  • Nebraska -275
  • Illinois +220
  • Nebraska (-7) -105
  • Illinois (+7) -115
  • Over 55 (-110)
  • Under 55 (-110)

Odds per BetMGM - Subject to Change

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Resources

  • Venue: Memorial Stadium
  • Location: Champaign, Illinois
  • TV-Time: FOX - 1:00 p.m. ET

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Analysis

The Huskers have Martinez under center, as he kicks off his fourth season as the starter for head coach Scott Frost. Martinez is experienced, and he gets help thanks to the transfer portal. RB Markese Stepp and WR Samori Toure should make an immediate impact. Martinez will also be thankful to have OT Turner Corcoran protecting his backside, one of the better offensive linemen in the Big Ten West.

The Fighting Illini offense will also be tested early and often by the Huskers defense. The 'Black Shirts' chopped off a half-yard per play last season, going from 5.96 yards per game allowed in 2019 to 5.46 yards per game in last season's abbreviated campaign. The defense is in good shape, although LB Will Honas is still recovering from a knee injury suffered in the spring. That's a big blow. The Huskers will need LBs Nick Henrich and Chris Kolarevic to step up.

Illinois hasn't had a winning season since 2011, and they are hopeful Bielema will help rectify that. However, facing Nebraska and an experienced quarterback in the opener is a tall order. The good news is the Illini have an experienced signal caller of their own in QB Brandon Peters. They should be able to hang in the first half, especially since they're at home. He will also operate behind one of the more experienced offensive lines in the league.

The problems will start in the second half, and it will likely be due to their shaky defense. The Illini were gouged for 230.1 rushing yards per game in 2020, and they coughed up 34.9 points per game. If the defense cannot show vast improvement, it's going to be a long season, starting with Saturday's game against the Huskers.

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting History

  • 11/21/2020 - Illinois 41 (+16.5) at Nebraska 23, Over 62
  • 9/21/2019 - Nebraska 42 at Illinois 38 (+12), Over 62
  • 11/10/2018 - Illinois 35 at Nebraska 54 (-17), Over 71.5
  • 9/29/2017 - Nebraska 28 (-6.5) at Illinois 6, Under 47
  • 10/1/2016 - Illinois 16 (+20.5) at Nebraska 31, Under 53

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