The college football season opens up in Champaign Illinois. All eyes will be on the Illini and new head coach Brett Bielema. For anyone who is not familiar with Bielema, he has an impressive resume. Bielema started his college coaching career at Iowa where he spent 5 years as their linebacker coach and then spent a year at Kansas State as their defensive coordinator. Bielema then moved up the ladder and spent 6 years (2006 – 2012) as the head coach of Wisconsin, and 4 years (2013 – 2017) as the head coach of Arkansas. While at Wisconsin, Bielema won 3 Big Ten Championships in his 6-year span. He was also awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2006. His overall record as a head coach was 97 – 58 and went to 9 bowl games in 10 years. After Arkansas, he moved on to the NFL where he served as the consultant to the Head Coach for the patriots, the DL coach for the patriots, and the OLB coach for the Giants. Bielema now returns back to his home state as the head coach of the Fighting Illini, with an enormous amount of experience and accolades under his belt. Bielema boasts an 11-1 record in home openers as head coach.
On the other side of the ball, Scott Frost returns as Nebraska’s head honcho. Frost enters this season on the hot seat as he has struggled in his first 3 years as a Cornhusker (12 – 20) Prior to coming to Nebraska, Scott was the Head Coach of the very impressive 2017 UCF team that went 13 – 0. There is some smoke around the program with Scott Frost being under investigation for potentially breaking NCAA Rules.
The Huskers will be looking for revenge after the Illini went into Lincoln Nebraska and steam rolled the Huskers with a 41-23 victory last year. Illinois returns 18 starters and 40 seniors. 22 of these seniors are 6 year seniors (most out of all power 5 teams). The biggest of those seniors being QB Brandon Peters, RB Mike Epstein, And LB Jake Hansen. These guys bring a ton of skill and experience to the Illini roster. The Illini will trot out an experienced front 5 in the trenches with 5 seniors and will look to pound the rock early and often. Nebraska, on the other hand, returns 8 seniors and 10 defensive starters. On the offensive end, 3-year starter Adrian Martinez returns at QB. Martinez didn’t live up to the hype last year, as he lost snaps to Luke McCaffrey mid-season. McCaffrey transferred to Rice, so Martinez doesn’t have to worry about losing any of the spotlight this season. Nebraska, like Illinois, has a strong offensive line and also boasts a strong secondary on the defensive end.
Nebraska opened as 9.5 point favorites, but that line has dropped down to 7 on most books, and even 6.5 on a couple. Books moving the line below the key number 7 is important. The total opened at 55.5 and is currently at 54.5 at most books. At the time of writing, 64% of the public is backing the Illini at +7. For the total, 75% of the public is on the Under at 54.5.
He may have Frost in his name, but look for there to be no frost around him as his seat starts to really warm up after this opening showdown. The hype around Memorial Stadium in Champaign with Opening up College Football’s week zero and displaying a new head coach will be too much for the Huskers. The Illini’s experience on the offensive line will overpower Nebraska and Illini will do enough on the defensive end to keep it close. Expecting an ugly game with a couple turnovers on each side, but the Illini to do enough to stay within the number