Illini grade vs. Nebraska: D+

Player of the game: Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah
He isn’t Mike Rozier or Ahman Green. Not yet. But the speedster is helping Nebraska fans forget recently departed Rex Burkhead. A career-best day against Illinois puts Abdullah in the hunt for a spot on the All-Big Ten team.

Offense
Illinois D, Nebraska B+

Nathan Scheelhaase struggled like he was playing against Washington, hitting just half of his 26 passes for 135 yards. It shows that the Illini will struggle if the ball isn’t going down the field. Nebraska backup quarterback Tommy Armstrong was more effective than his Illini counterpart, throwing two touchdown passes.

Defense
Illinois D+, Nebraska B-

You are never getting a good grade when a running back averages 10 yards per carry. That’s what happened to Tim Banks and the Illini. Nebraska’s Jason Ankrah made a big interception as Nebraska played its best game all season. Not that it was a high bar.

Special teams
Illinois C+, Nebraska D

Because of the wind, the return teams for Illinois weren’t given much of a chance early in the game, when they could have made a difference. Beckman mentioned the wind after the game. For Nebraska, missing two extra points might be OK against Illinois, but it won’t work against the Big Ten heavyweights.

Overall
Illinois D+, Nebraska B

Illinois got off to a slow start and could never catch up against a team that was trying to help give the game away. Nebraska fumbled, missed a short fourth-down conversion and still won without a major effort. As well as Illinois played against Cincinnati and Miami, it didn’t show the same confidence against Nebraska. The Illini will need to play much better if they hope to bounce back against Wisconsin. Right now, it looks like a long shot.

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