With each passing day, we are getting closer and close to Illinois football in 2014. Even though the Fighting Illini improved their overall record in 2013, fans are just as anxious leading into the 2014 campaign. This is because the Orange & Blue are close to returning to the postseason, and many fans want to see the Illini earn a bowl bid in 2014.
The next game on our schedule preview for the 2014 season is the team’s first Big Ten conference game in Lincoln against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
2013 Record: 9-4 (5-3 in the Big Ten)
Key Losses: WR Quincy Enunwa, OL Andrew Rodriguez, OT Jeremiah Sirles, DE Jason Ankrah, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, DB Ciante Evans
Key Returners: RB Ameer Abdullah, QB Tommy Armstrong Jr., WR Kenny Bell, S Corey Cooper, DE Randy Gregory, LB David Santos
Player to Watch: S Corey Cooper
The Husker secondary took two big hits this past week as junior DB Charles Jackson suffered a season-ending knee injury and safety LeRoy Alexander was suspended by the team for the 2014 season. Because of this, the player to watch for Nebraska at this point has to be senior safety Corey Cooper. When the Illini come to town on Sept. 27th, Cooper and the Nebraska secondary will be facing a Bill Cubit system that loves to sling the ball around the field. Corey Cooper has made a name for himself as a hard hitter during his time in Lincoln, and he will need to be all over the field against the Orange & Blue to help his team win. The senior expects his final season to be much better than his junior one because of his comfortably as a starter for the Huskers.
Prediction: Nebraska 38 – Illinois 28
After hearing the news about the two losses on the Nebraska secondary in 2014, this game was a hard one to come up with a prediction for. The optimist in me wants to say that the Husker secondary will not be able to contain Wes Lunt and the Bill Cubit offense. However, Ameer Abdullah did burn the Illini defense a year ago, and he has the potential to do it again in 2014. With all that being said, I predict the winner to be the same, but the score a little closer than I once thought. Illinois’ offense will be successful against the Husker defense, but the Illini defense might not be able to contain Abdullah in this game.
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