Illinois drops game against Nebraska
November 10, 2018
The Illini had an opportunity to push their season record to the .500 mark but fell fast in a matchup with the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Nebraska, 54-35.
Both Nebraska and Illinois have made improvements in their offensive play this season, with a lot of the credit going toward the offensive line, a unit that both teams have seen jump ahead 100 spots in the national rankings this season.
The offense started early with the Cornhuskers on the board first with a quick 62-second drive that led to a touchdown. But the Illini responded quickly and the teams traded runs until they were tied at 14.
Illinois was the first to slip up offensively, and Nebraska took full advantage to extend the lead.
Three turnovers that included two botched punts led to Nebraska being up 37-21 at the half.
In the first half, it was quarterback AJ Bush who collected all the points for the Illini with three rushing touchdowns.
To add to Illinois’ first-half woes, rising-star running back Reggie Corbin went down with an apparent leg injury in the second quarter, and despite some action on the sideline bike, he did not return to the game.
When Illinois went to the pass game, the team’s receivers couldn’t hold onto the ball. Ricky Smalling was the team’s leading receiver with 43 yards on five receptions. Through the air, the Illini only put up 126 yards compared with the Cornhuskers’ 290.
As for the defense, the Illini reverted back to their old ways.
The team wasn’t able to carry over the momentum from its previous victory against Minnesota, and Nebraska’s quarterback Adrian Martinez dominated the Illini, rushing for 55 yards with a touchdown and passing for 290 with three touchdowns.
Once Nebraska began to pull away, Illinois did not respond until it was too late.
Illinois was able to put up two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter with one by Ra’Von Bonner and another by Dre Brown.
A new area of struggle for the Illini this week was the group’s special teams performance.
Because of a 17-yard loss on a punt return by Jordan Holmes, the Illini had minus 15 yards on punt returns for the day to go along with the two muffed punt turnovers.
Illinois is now 4-6 for the season with two games left to go. Next on the slate will be the team’s last home game against Iowa.