Well Husker fans, it appears that dear ole NU has something good cookin. Nevermind the fact that Oregon is now 2-2 after losing at home to Colorado, Wyoming is 2-2 after losing to Eastern Michigan and Northwestern is now 1-3 after the defeat we handed them Saturday night. Yeah, those teams aren’t exactly murderers row, but you play the schedule in front of you. 4-0 is all the same, particularly after the plane crashed into the mountain last year. This Saturday the Illinois Fighting Illini come to town for a 2:30 tilt. They bring a coach a lot of people will recognize, a QB with a big arm, but otherwise a big bag of nothing. This is not a good team. Need proof? Check the stats of their two losses to FBS opponents by a combined 49 points. The Illini shouldn’t do much to cause your hair to go gray on Saturday. Here are a few things to look for.

*Illinois Run Defense– The Huskers have made no secret that they want to run the ball. All that talk in the offseason about committing to the run game wasn’t just noise. Its worked out pretty well for the Big Red thus far. NU is averaging 242 yards per game and over five yards per carry for the season. Meanwhile, the Illini  have had a tough time stopping the run in their two FBS games. Both North Carolina and Western Michigan averaged more than five yards per carry. Specifially, the Broncos ran for 287 yards in a 34-10 demolishing in Champaign. Look for Nebraska to hold true to form and pound the ball down the Illini’s throat with tremendous success Saturday.

*Wes Lunt– This dude passes the eye test big time. Lunt is 6-5 and has a big, impressive arm. Unfortunately for the Illini, he has largely underachieved in his college career. A look at the stats reveals that while Lunt completes an impressive 62 % of his passes, he does so for an average of 6.7 yards per attempt. That dink and dunk show ranks 89th nationally. In Illinois’ game with North Carolina, Lunt’s YPA was 3.6. That is horrendous. Despite Lunt’s impressive build and arms strength, he is really quite sub par. Against what is likely the best secondary he has faced, in his first road game of 2016, its doubtful he has much more success.

*Pressure Packages– I have to hand it to Mark Banker, with a defensive line that lacks a true pass rushing presence, Banker has found creative ways to get to the QB. Whether it is blitzes with four down lineman, or interesting nickle and dime packages, there have been no shortage of looks for opposing offenses to prepare for. As the season rolls on, I’m looking to see what else Banker has up his sleeve as well as how frequently he brings pressure. With a secondary that is as strong as NU’s, I think Banker can afford to roll the dice with more blitzes.

*Running Back Rotation– Through four games it has become obvious to me that a simple 1-2 punch at RB will not be enough. I really like Devine Ozigbo, but I have severe doubts about his durability as his carries increase. I would like to keep him fresh and punishing defenders. Terrell Newby looks improved this year, but I don’t think he can be counted on to carry the bulk of the load. Insert Mikale Wilbon. He looked fantastic against Northwestern. He is quick, shifty and can make a defender miss. I think he is can fill a role within this offense. Tre Bryant is another option, but his ball security questions concern me. I think Wilbon is the answer here and I hope Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf agree.

*Block Out the Noise-Its been a hectic week in Huskerville. The death of Milt Tenopir is a major blow. Tenopir wan an all time great. There will no doubt be many heavy hearts inside Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Meanwhile the stance taken by the three kneeling Huskers have sparked a heated debate on a variety of subjects. Saturday it is back to football, back to the tie that binds. Its time we all get together and cheer on the Big Red and celebrate the life of a Husker legend. As for the team, I expect them to remain focused despite everything else that has been happening this week. It will do them well to get out there and play an actual game. It’s bound to be an emotional day inside Memorial Stadium, and I’m eager to see if this team can stay focused on the task at hand and dispose of the Illini properly.

*Prediction– Huskers roll over the Illini 42-14. Perhaps Lovie Smith can get that program moving in the right direction, but at this point it’s a bad team. The Huskers grind them into a fine powder Saturday.


One thought on “Lovie and the Illini Come to Town

  1. Just got back from Vegas. I’m going to make this short and sweet. I took Northwestern at +400 on the money line. Also took them at +13 1/2 on some parlay tickets. I also took Wyoming +6 1/2. See you and I look at College Football differently. Not saying that my way is the best way, or your way is wrong it’s just different. At the beginning of the year I pick 2 or 3 teams from each conference where I see value in betting them. Now I eliminate the teams at the top of the conference. Just using as an example the ACC. I automatically take out Florida State, Clemson, Louisville undoubtedly the class of the conference but offers little value. Where the value lies in College Football betting is in the middle and just below that. This year my ACC teams are Wake Forest, and Virginia. My point is in your write up, you downgraded both Northwestern, and Wyoming, and Oregon for their lack of strong schedules. I am not a big believer in this. Where you see teams that too you are not playing well according to their record and schedule and results of their opponents games, I see value. Football is still a game of matchups. Not as big as in the Pro’s but it’s still very much a part of the game. The first thing I check is my recruiting books, just not where they rank but also who they recruited. I go back 4 years Northwestern has talent there. The matchups vs. the Huskers were not in their favor mostly due to overall team speed and they had no answer for Armstrong’s running. The matchups vs Iowa are in their favor not by much but they are there. Northwestern’s offense did execute better last week and I do think they will continue on the improve this week. Northwestern will give Iowa everything they can handle because they are a solid college football team on the improve. Ditto for Wyoming they are playing much better right now. I pay much more attention to when we play the teams and how they are playing at that time. Big part of winning is when, and where you play them instead of whom your playing. Oregon I had downgraded before this year and yes their not playing well on defense but checking my books I knew this because all their recruiting was on the offensive side of the ball the last 2 years and graduation hit them hard on defense last year. But they will offer me value before the year is over. (and no I don’t care about Fitzgerald’s rant’s not part of any equation I use)

    Do you look at the Sagarin ratings? Another team I bet was Purdue +10 1/2 vs Maryland. I picked Maryland before the year started as one of my big 10 teams on the improve. 2nd year coach, they have had 3 consecutive solid recruiting cycles but they are overvalued here big time so yes I took Purdue. I’m looking for Maryland to be playing much better about the time they come into Lincoln. I know they are 3-0 but they are not playing very well right now. I also took Minnesota +3 1/2, Washington -3 1/2 and in the pro’s the Giants Monday night. I guess the biggest difference is you look at it as a fan, I look at it as a business gambler always looking for value.


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