Here are today’s keys to victory and expert score predictions for Nebraska’s season opener at Illinois.

Here are today’s keys to victory and expert score predictions for Nebraska’s season opener at Illinois.

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Nebraska will kick off the 2021 college football season in a nationally televised Week Zero game at Illinois.

There are plenty of storylines and match-ups to watch in this game, as Illini head coach Bret Bielema will be coaching his first game in the Big Ten since 2012. Meanwhile, the stakes are high for Husker head coach Scott Frost entering his fourth season at NU.

As things get closer to kickoff, here are the keys to victory for Nebraska vs. Illinois, along with the HOL expert score predictions for Saturday. The Huskers are currently a 7 point favorite for today’s game that kicks off at 12:20 pm on FOX.

KEY 1: Coming out with a sound plan

Nebraska needs to come out with a sound plan on both offense and defense. They need to have a basic plan that will be easy to make adjustments to once they get an idea of what Illinois is going to do.

KEY 2: Stand up vs. the run on defense

Illinois is going to try to run the ball at Nebraska. They are going to test the teeth of the defense. The Blackshirts need to stand up early.

KEY 3: Special teams execution

What will Nebraska’s improved special teams look like on Saturday? Most importantly can they execute the little things that matter – tackling in space, assignments, directional kicking, etc.

KEY 4: Establish your skill talent

Nebraska enters this game with an advantage in overall skill talent. The Huskers have to find a way to utilize their skill talent and find explosive plays on offense.

KEY 5: The details

This has been a big topic over the off-season. The details. Turnovers, execution, penalties. These are the things that have hurt Nebraska as much as anything over the years. Can they improve in this area?

Sean Callahan – HuskerOnline Publisher

This is a game Nebraska should win and a game they need to win. The Huskers have more speed, overall skill talent and depth on defense. NU will establish their ground game and the defense will hold the Illini to under 200 rushing yards.

Nebraska 34, Illinois 24

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Robin Washut – HuskerOnline Senior Writer

Week 0 or not, this is a game Nebraska absolutely has to win. In recent years, counting on Nebraska to handle that kind of pressure has been a risky proposition. But I like the makeup of this team and think today will be different. The Huskers will control the game on the ground, create a key turnover or two, and come away with an important victory.

Nebraska 41, Illinois 27

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Jim Rose – 1110 KFAB Radio Sports Director

The biggest opener for Big Red since OSU in ’03. UI has 15 starters back, but lost their best ones. Then again, they replace one of the worst coaching staffs with a proven B1G winner in Bret B and Co. UI will rely on transfers but so too will NU. Risky for both in Sept. 1st Q will be key. If NU stumbles early, the old doubts creep in. But if they can jump on the Illini, I think they’ll hold a lead.

Nebraska 28, Illinois 17

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Mike’l Severe – 1620 the Zone

I think the key will be the Blackshirts being able to control the Illini’s run game. If Nebraska plays clean in terms of no turnovers I expect them to control the game after an initial burst from the home team. Give me Sevion Morrison to have a break-out performance. Illinois has a projected win total of 3.5. Nebraska needs to take care of business.

Nebraska 34, Illinois 20

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Andy Kendeigh – KETV Channel 7 Sports Director

Nebraska is bigger, stronger, faster and I say more determined than last season. They look the part and now it’s go time. But until they show it, there will be questions like — is this the same team that’s given up 79 points and turned it over 9 times in the past two games against Illinois? Or Is this the team ready to turn the corner? Maybe I am crazy, but I think Nebraska will show signs of maturity Saturday and will enjoy a comfortable, convincing victory in Champaign.

Nebraska 34, Illinois 20



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