CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The #17 ranked fighting Illini have arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska for their Saturday game. Nebraska is ranked 6th in the big ten in offense so it will be a matchup for the Illini’s #1 ranked defense in the country.
It’s back to the field after a bye week for the Illini and they can close out the month as the Big Ten West’s best team with a win here at the other Memorial Stadium against a Nebraska team that’s looking for answers both in the long and short term.
Scott Frost was fired last month after a home loss to Georgia Southern. Mickey Joseph is the interim coach, he played for the Huskers and has said he wants the job permanently, but for now though his role is trying to salvage the season for the Big Red, still technically alive in the Big Ten West race at 2-2 in league play. Illinois played Nebraska very well the past few years, winning back-to-back games in the series.
“My thing is, talking to the team is that we’ve got to match our opponent’s physicality and starting this week with Illinois,” Nebraska head coach Mickey Joseph said. “They have a really physical rushing game. Really good on defense, they’re well coached and they stick to their guns.”
“I think for them it all starts up front and it allows their defensive backs to play good technique in the back end, but I think for sure their front seven stands out on film,” Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson said.
A win against the Huskers tomorrow and maybe get that hotel reservation lined up for the first weekend of December in Indianapolis, the site of the Big Ten Championship game. There is still a lot of football left but as crazy as it may sound to Illini nation, the team controls its own destiny to representing the West in the Conference Title game.
Head coach Bret Bielema is no stranger to winning league titles, he won three straight at Wisconsin before leaving for Arkansas. In just his second year in orange and blue, Bielema has the Illini are in position, but is stressing to his guys, they’ve got to say focused on the journey.
“It’s about the process, right,” Bielema said. “I always try to tell our guys, and I made a big point of it on Sunday when we got together, everybody in the world wants to go to the end, where we’re going, what we’re doing. For us in this building, we’ve got to concentrate on the journey. Each week we have a new journey, a new opportunity. If you take care of those moments then that will take care of the end result you’re talking about.”