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Is Illinois a must win game?

huskrthill

Crap
10 Year Member
Illinois is only tough if we aren't any good.

Illinois had two wins last season -- an 18pt win over Nebraska and a 3-point win over Rutgers when they kicked a FG with 7 seconds left to prevent OT. They fired their coach because they sucked, but that coach did beat Nebraska. Illinois won 2 of Lovie Smith's final ten games in Champaign (late-2019 to 2020) -- and again, one of those was against NU.

Yes, if Nebraska is no better than a 3-4 win team in 2021, Illinois is going to be tough -- true. Otherwise, the talent advantage is far superior on the Nebraska sideline -- so if the coaching is adequate, it shouldn't be a nail biter.

I'm not saying we won't struggle with Illinois. But I am saying if we do, there will be reason for the Frost skeptics to make a lot of noise. And it would be quite hard to convince anyone we'll win enough games for a bowl game if we can't beat Illinois in the first game -- because there's going to be at least 7-8 teams we play that will be better than Illinois.
I think an opening game win should be considered a good start, regardless of the opponent or the style in which the game is won. We're not good enough to worry about style points just yet, especially against Big 10 teams. Including Illinois.

That loss to Illinois was eerily similar to some of the eggs that we laid in the Pelini era. Gifting a conference opponent that many turnovers, including the first play of the game, is rarely going to turn out well. Even reasonably good teams would struggle in that situation.

The worst coaching decision in Frost's tenure was to start Luke McCaffrey at quarterback. He's an athletic guy, but was nowhere near ready to play big time football at that position. He reasonably managed the Penn State game, but his 3 INTs and 3 fumbles (1 lost) against Illinois were too much to overcome. Martinez has his own shortcomings, but he has had only 3 games in his entire career in which he has thrown more than one INT. His only 3 INT game was against Ohio State in 2019... a much more difficult opponent than 2020 Illinois.

I think Frost may have caved to some external pressures, but it's a mistake I doubt he would make again.

But back to 2021. Nebraska will beat Illinois this season. Period.
 
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SavageHusker

Red Shirt
2 Year Member
I think an opening game win should be considered a good start, regardless of the opponent or the style in which the game is won. We're not good enough to worry about style points just yet, especially against Big 10 teams. Including Illinois.

That loss to Illinois was eerily similar to some of the eggs that we laid in the Pelini era. Gifting a conference opponent that many turnovers, including the first play of the game, is rarely going to turn out well. Even reasonably good teams would struggle in that situation.

The worst coaching decision in Frost's tenure was to start Luke McCaffrey at quarterback. He's an athletic guy, but was nowhere near ready to play big time football at that position. He reasonably managed the Penn State game, but his 3 INTs and 3 fumbles (1 lost) against Illinois were too much to overcome. Martinez has his own shortcomings, but he has had only 3 games in his entire career in which he has thrown more than one INT. His only 3 INT game was against Ohio State in 2019... a much more difficult opponent than 2020 Illinois.

I think Frost may have caved to some external pressures, but it's a mistake I doubt he would make again.

But back to 2021. Nebraska will beat Illinois this season. Period.
The fact that he caved to external pressure says to me he has no clue how to right the ship and is grasping at straws. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be where we are at in year 4 yet here we are. I was as high on Frost as you can be, to the point my buddies joked I made my wife wear a Frost mask to bed.

I am hoping that he turns it around this year. But another 5ish win season and a new QB in year 5, huge turnover on D etc. I don’t ever see Frost righting the ship.

This really is a must win game. Lose to IL and it starts to get ugly.
 

Husker In Oklahoma

All Big 10
15 Year Member
Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be where we are at in year 4
I think this is where about 97% are. It’s been shocking. Didn’t expect anything like what’s happened. Even the few, and I mean few, skeptics of Frost upon hiring didn’t expect 12-20. It’s hard for the staunchest supporters to explain away what’s happened. Hell, even they can see the cluster on the field to date.

It’s a super important year. Critical for the program to step forward. If they don’t, there will be more turmoil, it’s inevitable. No one wants another coach, so Frost just needs to start winning.
 

Kwajsker

Scout Team
You simply have to win games like this.

Is it must win?

Yes.


You must win games against Illinois. Every year. Though, the questions is interesting because of where they sit on the schedule and the realities of where we have been in our program.

I think we have to win that game and I want to win it big. We should. We have better players and our coach isn't in the first year of install. It is a must win but not because of desperation. It is a must win because of forgetability. We should blitz through them...and I think we will. Our Defense will keep us well out in front on this one, I would predict.
 

Cisco

Recruit
5 Year Member
We were 1-2 going into the Illinois game last season, having lost to Ohio State and Northwestern. We were coming off a win against Penn State. Everyone expected us to move to 2-2 and put us in position to go on towards a winning season or at least break even in year three. Things were still on track, just a year or two behind schedule.

That loss, and the manner in which it occurred, struck a major blow to much of the fan bases' confidence in the staff. I know it did mine and I believe most of the CFB world in general.

Aside from the tangible need to get a win there with a very tough schedule coming up, this is as close to a must win as possible in terms of beginning to rebuild some faith in this regime. At risk of being hyperbolic, I believe another loss in the opener would be devastating.

We HAVE to beat Illinois.
 
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Elwood von Kiowa

Grad Assistant
5 Year Member
We were 1-2 going into the Illinois game last season, having lost to Ohio State and Northwestern. We were coming off a win against Penn State. Everyone expected us to move to 2-2 and put us in position to go on towards a winning season or at least break even in year three. Things were still on track, just a year or two behind schedule.

That loss, and the manner in which it occurred, struck a major blow to much of the fan bases' confidence in the staff. I know it did mine and I believe most of the CFB world in general.

Aside from the tangible need to get a win there with a very tough schedule coming up, this is as close to a must win as possible in terms of beginning to rebuild some faith in this regime. At risk of being hyperbolic, I believe another loss in the opener would be devastating.

We HAVE to beat Illinois.
I'm trying not to make it out as the end of the world if we should lose the opener, but you pretty much nailed it.
 

YUENGLING

Junior Varsity
10 Year Member
Illinois will be a tough win.

Offense will still be finding itself, lots of new faces, talented but learning to work with each other.

This win will require plus two on turnovers from the Blackshirts and at least very good field position from the Special Teams.

Then it becomes clear why AD moos is brilliant in getting the Fordham game for the next week in Lincoln.

Secondarily it is much needed for money reasons for the Athletic Department and for the city of Lincoln.

But this is an execution game for the offense.

They will get more than 80 snaps on offense, where they can work on running the offense in game situations.

This is absolutely critical for the 2021 season, the "Akron game" for this year, and will set us up for the season ahead as the O-line especially learns to work as a 6-8 man unit.

With a narrow win at Illinois and the Fordham game providing experience, we play Oklahoma man up and physical, like Army did a few years ago, and they won't like it.

Then we have an excellent chance in every game through to OSU, with Martinez's health being the wild card to a very good season.

GBR
Nebraska would be wise to study the Army tape from both their Oklahoma game and their West Virginia bowl game. The offensive line just opened holes and Keith the ball from Okie’s powerful offense which totally frustrated the Sooners all day.
The running formations Army used against West Virginia were incredible. They ran it down their throats only to lose by committing stupid penalties.
 
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