Nebraska Improves To 5-0 After 31-16 Win Over Illinois

Nebraska improved to 5-0 on the season after pulling away late at home against Illinois, 31-16.

 Offensive Player of the Game:

After a slow start in the first half, the senior back took over the offensive game when the team needed him the most. Newby finished with 143 yards and two touchdowns, and was in command of the backfield after both Ozigbo and Wilbon were banged up. Both of Newby’s touchdowns came in the 4th quarter, including a 63-yard run to give the Huskers a sigh of relief. The California native finally showed why he was selected as their No. 1 back. 

Defensive Player of the Game:

In one of their worst defensive games of the season, the Huskers’ defense started to click in the second half, and the sophomore linebacker emerged as their top performer. Young ended the game leading the Blackshirts in tackles with six, but it was his pass-breakup in the 3rd quarter that saved a touchdown that highlighted his day.

The Moment It Was Over:

After a 63-yard touchdown run by Terrell Newby to increase the Husker lead to 31-16, the Nebraska D stopped Illinois’ following drive on 4th down to seal the deal.

Quote To Note:

“I think they started getting a lot of push. They started to wear those guys down. That’s one thing we take pride in. To see the defense getting tired, that’s what we thrive on.” – Nebraska running back Terrell Newby

What A Nebraska Win Means:

Nebraska remains undefeated and improves their record to 5-0 (2-0) on the year. More importantly, the Huskers have a week off to both prepare for their road game against Indiana, as well as rest their injured players. Being one of the few remaining undefeated teams in the country, Nebraska will travel to Indiana to take on a 2-1 Hoosier squad.


* Nebraska had a plethora of injured players, including starters Cethan Carter, Jordan Westerkamp and David Knevel. While Knevel’s ankle injury does not appear to be anything serious, Westerkamp’s and Carter’s are still unknown and their return has yet to be determined. Carter left the game early in the first quarter with an elbow injury and later returned in street clothes. Westerkamp injured his back on a hit after he completed a first down catch. The senior was helped off the field by trainers and is currently in the hospital. Running backs Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilbon were also banged up in the win over Illinois, but with a bye week to get healthy, they should be back against Indiana. * The fourth quarter heroics keep the Huskers’ season alive. Through five games, Nebraska has now outscored their opponents 78-6 in the fourth quarter. Against Illinois, the Huskers shut down the Fighting Illini’s offense, and scored 21 consecutive points. Nebraska’s second half adjustments have kept their season alive, and has this team at a complete 180 from just a year ago in terms of finishing out games.

* Nebraska had a weird game offensively and were more dominant than they appeared. The Huskers’ had the ball for 38:01 of the game, were 10-of-14 on third downs, and had 423 total yards. They did have two turnovers on the day, both of which led to scores from Illinois. The Nebraska offensive line, however, did not give up a sack and the Huskers did not punt the ball once today. Weird stats like that show that they were better offensively than they appeared. 

* Defensively, Nebraska looked horrible. In the first half, their defense gave up 169 yards and 13 points. Illinois was 8-of-10 on passing, and were averaging 5.6 yards per carry. What won’t show up in the stats is the amount of missed tackles, guys out of position, and wide open holes the Illini offensive line was producing. After making their halftime adjustments, the  Blackshirts started off better on defense, but still allowed a scoring drive. Their first three and out did not come until the opening drive in the third quarter, and they did not force a turnover today.

* Nebraska has now won their last eight homecoming games, including three over Illinois in 2013, 2014 and 2016. The Huskers now hold a 10-3-1 record over Illinois, and Mike Riley is 1-0 against Lovie Smith.

* Tight end Trey Foster snatched a six-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give the Huskers a 24-16 lead. This was Foster’s first touchdown catch of his career, and his first catch of the season. Great to see a senior step up and make a play when they needed it.

* Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp had four receptions for 65 yards this week. This game marked Westerkamp’s 31st consecutive game with at least one catch, and he is now one reception shy of passing Johnny Rodgers to become third all-time in career receptions.

* Having wide receiver coach Keith Williams back on the sidelines definitely made an impact as their wide receivers had a great game. In their 16 completions, Westerkamp led the team with four for 65 yards. Stanley Morgan Jr. also snatched three, his third coming on a 3rd and 8 near the red zone in the fourth quarter. Brandon Reilly and De’Mornay Pierson-El each recorded one catch for ten yards, and had a combined 15 yards rushing in two attempts. Nebraska managed to record 220 yards in the air without senior Alonzo Moore, and eventually without Cethan Carter and Jordan Westerkamp. 

* Penalties make their way back into the donuts for yet another week. The Huskers had three for 35 yards total, but their opponent finished with seven on the day for a combined total of 48 yards. Nebraska’s offense was bailed out at times, including a 3rd and long horse collar recorded on Tommy Armstrong Jr., in addition to a pass interference call on 3rd down to keep Nebraska’s drive alive. They later scored on that drive to take a 17-16 lead and never looked back.

* Illinois presented Nebraska players with a signed No. 27 jersey by their players and coaches in honor of Sam Foltz. Classy move.

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