Nebraska vs. Illinois Prediction: Odds, Spread, DFS Picks, and More

The Nebraska Cornhuskers are looking to bounce back against Illinois Fighting Illini as both teams are in search of their first Big Ten win of the season.

In a battle of two teams looking to get back to .500 on the season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Both teams head into the game with a 2-3 record on the season after suffering double-digit conference losses last week. Nebraska and Illinois are both 0-2 in Big Ten contests this season. A win for either team could be what they need to turn the season around with a loss being a devastating blow to staying pace for a bowl game.

Nebraska vs. Illinois Betting Preview

  • Spread
    Illinois -3.5, Nebraska +3.5
  • Moneyline
    Illinois -166, Nebraska +140
  • Over/Under
    43 points
  • Game time
    8 p.m. ET
  • Location
    Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois
  • Predicted Weather at Kick
    44 degrees, partly cloudy, 9% precipitation, winds northwest 15 mph
  • How to Watch
    FS1, Fox Sports App

Top DFS Picks and Fantasy Plays

All values below come from FanDuel’s multi-team entries for the weekend.

For each team’s depth chart:

Nebraska Depth Chart | Illinois Depth Chart

  • QB Jeff Sims, Nebraska ($10,000)
  • QB Heinrich Haarberg, Nebraska ($10,000)
  • QB Luke Altmyer, Illinois ($8,600)
  • RB Anthony Grant, Nebraska ($8,000)
  • RB Reggie Love III, Illinois ($7,200)
  • RB Josh McCray, Illinois ($5,800)
  • RB Kaden Feagin, Illinois ($5,400)
  • RB Emmett Johnson, Nebraska ($4,800)
  • RB Aidan Laughery, Illinois ($4,700)
  • RB Trevin Luben, Nebraska ($4,400)
  • WR Isaiah Williams, Illinois ($8,400)
  • WR Pat Bryant, Illinois ($6,600)
  • WR Billy Kemp IV, Nebraska ($6,500)
  • WR Casey Washington, Illinois ($5,700)
  • WR Marcus Washington, Nebraska ($5,500)
  • WR Alex Bullock, Nebraska ($5,400)
  • TE Thomas Fidone II, Nebraska ($5,500)
  • TE Griffin Moore, Illinois ($5,200)
  • TE Tip Reiman, Illinois ($5,100)

From a fantasy perspective, this game doesn’t quite have the flair for big-time offensive players on either team. Nebraska has the second-worst passing attack in the Big Ten, averaging just 139.4 yards per game and both teams occupy two of the bottom three spots in points per game (Illinois at 21.6 points per game and Nebraska at 18.8 points per game).

Nebraska quarterback Heinrich Haarberg has been impressive since replacing Jeff Sims, scoring six total touchdowns to one interception. The dual-threat quarterback leads the team in passing yards (477) and rushing yards (270). It’s clear the Cornhuskers’ offense flows through Haarberg now so while they might not get a lot of points, he can make it up with the yardage.

Illinois running back Reggie Love III is the safest choice at running back this week, as he has rushed for 248 yards and one touchdown this season. Nebraska’s defense allows the third least number of rushing yards per game in the Big Ten at 86.8 yards per game so running the ball will be a challenge for the Fighting Illini.

Nebraska has an interesting situation in the backfield as they go back and forth between Anthony Grant and Gabe Ervin Jr. The two combined for 420 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Grant’s issues have been fumbles, as he has had two fumbles, with one being lost, but he should be the leader with Ervin’s status up in the air.

Isaiah Williams is the top receiver for not only Illinois but in this game as well. While he hasn’t scored a touchdown this season, he has recorded 446 receiving yards and two 100-yard games in 2023. Defense might be the name of the game, but Williams is a safe choice to have a big game.

Prediction for Nebraska vs. Illinois

This season for Nebraska and Illinois is two different tales with two different directions the programs are trending.

The Fighting Illini have not necessarily been bad as they have been competitive in games, but the Big Ten schedule has stooped them through two conference games. Turnovers have been a major problem for Illinois as quarterback Luke Altmyer has thrown seven interceptions to five touchdowns in five games. They are efficient at running the ball and could be able to pass the ball if they can clean up the mistakes.

Nebraska moved their style of offense to running the ball and so far, it has been a mixed bag of getting the yardages, but not finishing drives with points. Their 18.8 points per game is the worst in the Big Ten for offense. Their defense has been solid as they are in the top six in total defense and top three against the run. They’re another team that needs to eliminate the mistakes as well to win games.

It’s not going to be a pretty night of football as the defense will be ready to play. Fans might be seeing a lot of ground-and-pound offense that surely will make it a classic Big Ten matchup. The question comes on which offense do fans trust to cut the turnovers, win the time of possession, and which defense can force the most mistakes.

Prediction: Illinois 21, Nebraska 14