It’s only year one for Bret Bielema at Illinois but he has 13 years of head coaching experience, 7 of those in the Big Ten at Wisconsin where he had some real successs so he knows how to win in this league. Bielema also spent 2 years under Belichick since his last head coaching stint so that’s always a positive.
Illinois returns 9 starters on both sides of the ball including 4 OL with some real NFL potential and 6th year senior Brandon Peters will be at QB in his third year starting at Illinois. They won’t get beat in the trenches on either side of the ball which is huge. This is one of the most experienced teams in college football which is essential this early in the season.
Last year Illinois beat Nebraska in Lincoln 41-23 and I think they’ll be improved and have them at home this year. Nebraska is in flux after a 3-5 record last season and the Scott Frost experiment is failing. The NCAA is also investigating the program which just adds more distractions. Also Nebraska has no noteable run game outside the QB position and their leading returning receiver only had 18 catches last season. Adrian Martinez has a serious turnover problem and I think he struggles a lot without his old favorite target and no run game to support him.
Scott Frost is 5-11 ATS as a favorite at Nebraska. The name brand of Nebraska always accounts for a point or so on the spread and I think they’re also accounting for Bielema being in his first year at Illinois but I’d honestly rather have him than Frost at this point. Take the points with the Illini.