Illinois football is looking to at least duplicate what happened in the 2022 campaign.
The 2023 season should be fruitful for the Illini. We have a lot of talent back and ready to perform at the highest level. In a season prediction article, I laid out that I believe Illinois could go 9-3 this season. That is where I think this program is talent-wise.
ESPN Analytics thinks differently, though. According to them, Illinois is only predicted to win in six games this season. They have the Illini going 6-6 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten. Some of these percentages don’t make sense to me, though.
Here are the five most baffling ESPN Analytics predictions for the Illinois football team in 2023
No. 5 Illinois vs. Nebraska
- ESPN Analytics Prediction: Illinois 65.2%, Nebraska 34.8%
Coming into the 2023 campaign, the Illini are favored against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. This is the way it should be, but I think the number that ESPN Analytics has on the Illini is a bit low.
In 2022, the two teams met in Lincoln, and Illinois dominated the Cornhuskers. We won the game 26-9 on the road, and it wasn’t a close game throughout. For the game this season, Nebraska comes to Champaign.
I also believe that Nebraska got worse as a program. The addition of Jeff Sims at quarterback is not going to be the saving grace some may hope. Sims can’t throw the football well, and his ground attack is average at best.
Nebraska is going to be a running team in 2023, and that is Illinois’ specialty on defense. The Cornhuskers had 25 carries for 60 yards and zero touchdowns in 2022. I fully expect that to be the case once again. Illinois returns a talented front six that can shut Nebraska down.
The percentages should be changed to favor Illinois more in this matchup. I believe Illinois should be around 70% as the favorite.
- Changed Prediction: Illinois 70.5%, Nebraska 29.5%