Bret Bielama and Illinois Football vs. Nebraska 10/29

Illinois football remains the top of the Big Ten West and looks to run the table all the way to Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten title.

While Illinois football is playing at a high level Nebraska has been quietly sticking around the past few weeks since getting blown out by Oklahoma. They beat Indiana, then Rutgers and finally they lost by 6 to Purdue in a high scoring affair. Scott Frost firing was the big news in college football for a while but things have settled down for Nebraska and they’re just kind of sticking it out and playing decent football lately.

Nebraska’s QB is Casey Thompson who is a Texas transfer who showed some promise early in this season but the spark kind of faded with all of the turmoil. He has put up some decent yards with over 1,800 as of current with 11 TD but he does have 8 interceptions this year and that’s been the kryptonite. Trey Palmer an LSU transfer is their leading receiver who has nearly 800 yards on 47 receptions this year. It is hard to look at those two and not think they can be a threat to Illinois football this weekend. The one thing Illinois does have going for them is the Nebraska defense.

Nebraska defense is tough. They played well against Rutgers a few weeks back which is not difficult to do but besides that the defense has been Swiss cheese. They allow 31.3 points per game and their offense averages putting up 29.7. Thats poor. Total yards that Nebraska gives up a game is 471.7. They nearly let up 300 yards in passing and 200 yards in rushing! The statistics are absolutely insane. To almost average letting up 200 yards of rushing against per game is rough.

As for Illinois football it’s a true balanced team which these days is the only way to have successful football. It has been a bit of a surprise to see Illinois be ranked and be in contention for a big ten title. Exciting is an understatement. Bielama is a good coach and this year has shown that as he has continued to grow a program that was becoming lost and invisible in a huge conference before he arrived. So far this year game after game people are doubting Bielama and Illinois football but they push through and win.

Quarterback Tommy DeVito has been a positive for the Illini and his play could be the key down the stretch. After struggling at Syracuse, DeVito’s game has changed with Illinois.

He doesn’t have to do too much as the team is balanced this year and they get to pick and choose when to put the ball in his hands. Stats wise you can’t ask for much more he’s over 1,400 yard with 10 TDs and only 2 interceptions. In this type of offense that will work just fine.

Tommy Devito currently the #13 QB in the country per PFF. Illinois faces some favorable pass coverage grading teams in Nebraska (72.5), MSU (57.6), Purdue (70.8), and Northwestern (42.8). So he should move up in the rankings. For context Illinois grades out at 93.5 in coverage

The star of the show for Illinois football is Chase Brown. Genuinely in contention for the Doak Walker and he’s leading that race to be fair. Chase has been the spotlight that Illinois football has needed because every team needs that guy that they can count on. He has been stellar in their success and if they can try and use him more even in the pass game through screens and angle routes he can even go for Heisman. Nebraska will have their hands full with Chase and they know it. It is up to Bielama to make sure Chase gets touches and plenty of them. Chase has 1,059 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns so far on the season and he’ll need to stay in contact with the ball plenty for Illinois to run the table.

This will be a primetime game on Saturday so I will be adding this to my “Best Bets” articles for primetime games that I do for college football. Look for that tomorrow 10/27.

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