Aw Shucks: Rapid Reaction

LINCOLN, Neb. - The reaction from Illinois' 39-19 loss to Nebraska in the Big Ten opener.

Illinois Fighting Illini at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Oct 5, 20131ST2ND3RD4THSCORE
Illinois Fighting Illini (3-2)057719
Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-1)14913339
Illinois Fighting Illini
Nebraska Cornhuskers

It was over when: Ameer Abdullah run around, then through, crossed back and made a few more miss as he raced 43 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter. The score gave Nebraska a 30-5 lead and was the classic example of the Illini's tackling woes.

Player of the game: Abdullah. The junior took advantage of plenty of space and an Illini defensive unit that struggled to shed blockers and bring ball-carriers down. Abdullah finished with a career-high 225 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Stat of the game: 7.4. That's the average gain per play for Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers had little trouble against the Illini defense. By game's end, Nebraska piled up 521 yards, 24 first downs and scored on five of six trips into the red zone.

The takeaway: This was a good chance for Illinois to measure itself against one of the better teams in the conference, a Nebraska team that played for the Big Ten title a season ago and has established itself as a program routinely in the national discussion. Clearly the Illini aren't ready to win games like this. Offensively, the group didn't make enough big plays and didn't capitalize on successful drives in the first half. Defensively, the issues were many. Illinois, once again, didn't tackle well and weren't physical enough to overcome a big Nebraska offensive line and talented group of playmakers. At this point, with conference play starting up, lopsided scores will continue if the offense can't cash in consistently and the defense doesn't force field goals instead of touchdowns. The losing streak in the Big Ten is now 15 games. It's clear Illinois is not in the position to go on the road and beat superior teams like Nebraska.

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