Nebraska opens Big Ten Conference play on Saturday night with the Huskers traveling to Champaign to
take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. The prime-time tilt at Illinois’ Memorial Stadium is set to kick off shortly
after 7 p.m. CT, with national television coverage on BTN and radio coverage available on the Husker
Sports Network from Learfield-IMG.
Nebraska heads into Big Ten action with a 2-1 record, following an impressive 44-8 victory over Northern
Illinois last Saturday in Lincoln. Nebraska opened a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter and never
looked back as the Blackshirt defense held NIU out of the end zone. The Huskers rolled up 525 yards
of total offense, including better than 235 yards both rushing and passing.
Illinois will enter Saturday’s contest with a 2-1 record, following a 34-31 loss to Eastern Michigan on
Saturday in Champaign. Illinois had opened the year with victories over Akron and at Connecticut before
the setback this past weekend. Coach Lovie Smith’s team has been strong on defense this season,
allowing less than 320 yards per game, including just 79.3 rushing yards per game.
Nebraska and Illinois have a history of opening league play against each other. Since their first meeting
as Big Ten opponents in 2013, the Huskers have opened conference play against Illinois four times in
seven seasons. Nebraska is 5-1 against the Illini since joining the Big Ten Conference.
THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS
900- Nebraska will be looking to become the sixth college football program to
win 900 games on Saturday night. Nebraska owns an all-time record of 899-
389-40. The Huskers will look to join Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, Alabama
and Notre Dame in the exclusive club.
Nebraska has topped 30 points in each of its first three games. A fourth
30- 30-point outing to open the season would mark the first time the Huskers
have scored better than 30 points in the first four games since 2014.
9 Nebraska opponents have totaled just nine rushes of 10 yards or more
through three games. The Blackshirt defense is allowing just 2.2 yards per
rush and 82.0 rushing yards per game.
SERIES HISTORY: NEBRASKA VS. ILLINOIS
Nebraska holds a 12-3-1 all-time edge in the series, including a 3-2-1 record in games played at
• Nebraska is 5-1 against the Fighting Illini since joining the Big Ten, with the lone setback a 14-13
loss in 2015. Nebraska’s five wins have come by an average of 21.4 points.
• One of Nebraska’s memorable victories in the series occurred on Oct. 3, 1925, a 14-0 Nebraska
win in Champaign. It was the only time in Red Grange’s Illinois career that he was held scoreless
in a home game.
FROST IN SECOND SEASON WITH HUSKERS
Scott Frost is in his second season at Nebraska in 2019. The 2017 consensus national coach of the
year, Frost boasts a 25-16 career record as a collegiate head coach.
• Although Nebraska finished with a 4-8 record in 2018, five of the eight losses came by a combined
21 points. NU lost five games by five or fewer points, including a trio of three-point defeats.
Nebraska won four of its final six games, and the two losses were a five-point loss at an Ohio State
team that ended the year ranked No. 3 in the nation and a three-point loss at Iowa, when the
Hawkeyes kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired. Iowa finished with a No. 25 ranking.
• As the head coach at UCF, Frost improved from 6-7 in his first season to 13-0 in year two. A similar
turnaround at Nebraska could be historic. A nine-win season by Nebraska in 2019 would tie for
the second-largest win improvement from one season to the next in school history (five games),
while a 10-win campaign would tie the largest win improvement (six games).
• In 12 seasons as a full-time assistant or head coach, Frost’s teams have posted a 128-33 record,
averaging nearly 11 wins per season. Frost has been a part of seven conference championship
teams and coached in two national championship games in his 12 seasons.
• Frost’s teams have been ranked in the top 15 in 10 of his 12 seasons, including eight final top-10
rankings and six final top-five rankings.
• Each of NU’s last five head coaches won at least eight games in their second season, and the four
head coaches prior to Frost all produced their best winning percentage at Nebraska in year two.
NINE OF 10 ASSISTANTS RETURN FOR SECOND SEASON
Nine of Nebraska’s 10 assistant coaches returned for their second season in 2019, with all nine
having coached with Scott Frost in each of his four seasons as a head coach.
• Nebraska’s nine returning assistant coaches mark its highest number of returning assistants since
2013, when a Husker coaching staff last had zero turnover during the offseason. Nebraska has had
at least one coaching change each of the last six seasons.
• The lone new addition to the staff is Tony Tuioti, who coaches the Husker defensive line. Tuioti
comes to Nebraska after spending the past two seasons at Cal, including the 2018 campaign as
the Bears’ defensive line coach. Tuioti was also an assistant defensive line coach for two seasons
in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 and 2015.
• Four of the Huskers’ 11 full-time coaches played at Nebraska, including Frost, offensive line coach
Greg Austin, running backs coach Ryan Held and inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud.
• Nebraska’s coaching staff has been lauded the past three seasons. In addition to Scott Frost being
recognized as the 2017 national coach of the year while at UCF, the Husker staff features a Broyles
Award finalist in offensive coordinator Troy Walters (2017) and two Broyles Award nominees in
defensive coordinator Erik Chinander (2016) and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco (2018).
The Broyles Award is presented annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.
NEBRASKA AIMS TO BUILD OFF STRONG FINISH TO 2018
Nebraska won four of its final six games last season after an 0-6 start. The Huskers were nearly two
touchdowns per game better both offensively and defensively over the second half of the 2018
season while facing four bowl teams in their final six games, including a pair of teams who were
ranked in the final 2018 Associated Press top-25 poll.
• As part of its 4-2 finish, Nebraska won three games by at least 19 points. The Huskers’ two losses
were a five-point loss at Ohio State and a last-second three-point loss at Iowa. Overall, including
a three-point overtime loss at Colorado, the Huskers’ past four losses are by a total of 14 points
including two OT setbacks.
Illinois suffered its first loss of the season last week, falling to Eastern Michigan, 34-31.
The Fighting Illini got off to a fast start with 17 first-quarter points but with under two minutes left,
the game was tied at 31 and Eastern Michigan pulled off the win with a last-second field goal.
This season, Brandon Peters is 60-for-95 with two interceptions and nine passing touchdowns. Reggie
Corbin is Illinois’ leading rusher with 180 yards and two touchdowns. Ricky Smalling leads the receivers
with 159 yards and one touchdown. As a team, Illinois is outscoring its opponents 104-60 through three
games this season.
On defense, Dele Harding leads the team with 30 total tackles. He also has one interception on the season. Oluwole Betiku Jr. leads the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and half of the team’s 12.0 total sacks this season.