When the line for this game was first announced back in July, Nebraska was a 9.5 point favorite over Illinois. That number went down to 7 for good reason. First of all, The Cornhuskers are dealing with multiple injuries on the offensive side of the football, most notably both of their junior tight ends, Austin Allen and Travis Vokolek, as well as their highly touted freshman left tackle, Turner Corcoran. Although there are reports that head coach Scott Frost expects these guys to suit up for week 1, don’t let this distract you from the fact that these players are key components to the Nebraska offensive machine and they will be going into this game banged up and unconditioned for four quarters of competitive football.
On the flip side, Illinois’s injuries only include a redshirt sophomore competing for a starting guard spot and a defensive back who moved to wide receiver this season. These are insignificant injuries that will hardly, if at all, affect the ability for the Fighting Illini offense to be fluid and efficient. This is a team that brings back a whopping 22 “super seniors” (5th year seniors) this season, the highest amount in the country. With this experience, look for Illinois to be sharp right out of the gate against Nebraska, exploiting their holes and hanging tough all game to put themselves in position to potentially come away with a victory. Regardless of the winner, I have the utmost confidence that this contest will end up with a final score that is closer than a touchdown difference. PICK: Illinois +7