Huskers Meet Illini Friday Night on FS1
GAME 5: NEBRASKA at
SEPT. 29, 2017 | MEMORIAL STADIUM
CHAMPAIGN, ILL. | 7 p.m. (CT)
TV - FS1
RADIO - Husker Sports Network
SATELLITE RADIO - Sirius Channel 83, XM 83
INTERNET RADIO - Huskers.com
Record: 2-2, 1-0 Big Ten
Last Game: def. Rutgers, 27-17
Coach: Mike Riley
Career/NU Record: 110-93 (17th Year)/17-13 (3rd Year)
vs. Illinois: 1-1
Record: 2-1, 0-0 Big Ten
Last Game: lost to USF, 47-23
Coach: Lovie Smith
College Career/ILL Record: 5-10 (2nd Year)/Same
vs. Nebraska: 0-1
Nebraska hits the road for the first time in Big Ten Conference play taking on Illinois on Friday night in Champaign. Game time at Illinois' Memorial Stadium is set for shortly after 7 p.m. CT, with national television coverage on FS1 and radio coverage on the IMG Husker Sports Network.
The Huskers enter the matchup at Illinois with a 2-2 record, and a 1-0 mark in conference play following a 27-17 victory over Rutgers on Saturday. Nebraska relied on a strong running game and tough defense to control the second half of the game against Rutgers. The Huskers rushed for nearly 200 yards, while allowing less than 200 yards of total offense to the Scarlet Knights.
Illinois comes into Friday's matchup with a 2-1 record, including a 2-0 mark at home in 2017. The Fighting Illini last played at South Florida on Friday, Sept. 15, when they lost 47-23. Illinois will have a 14-day break before Friday's contest with the Huskers. Illinois opened the season with
non-conference victories over Ball State and Western Kentucky.
The 2017 season marks the fifth consecutive year the Nebraska-Illinois contest has been one of the Huskers' first two conference games. Aside from its traditional post-Thanksgiving game, Friday's game will mark the first time Nebraska has played a weekday regular-season game since 2010.
Nebraska Football Top 10
• Nebraska is 891-374-40 all-time, one of only 10 schools with 800 wins.
• The Cornhuskers rank fourth all-time with their 891 victories.
• Nebraska has won five national titles (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).
• The Huskers have won 46 conference championships.
• Nebraska’s 53 all-time bowl appearances rank second in NCAA history.
• Three Huskers have won the Heisman Trophy (Rodgers, Rozier, Crouch).
• Nebraska’s 107 football Academic All-Americans lead the nation.
• The Huskers have 110 first-team All-Americans in school history.
• Nebraska football is the only team in any sport in NCAA history to total 100 athletic and academic All-Americans.
• Memorial Stadium has been sold out every game since Nov. 2, 1962, a streak of 357 consecutive sellouts.
The Friday matchup between Nebraska and Illinois will be the fifth between the schools as Big Ten opponents. The schools now meet each year as members of the Big Ten West Division.
• Nebraska has limited Illinois to 19 or fewer points in all four Big Ten meetings between the teams. NU has scored at least 31 points in three of the four meetings.
• The Huskers and Illinois met seven times between 1892 and 1925, but played just three times between 1926 and 2013.
Huskers Prepare for Big Ten Conference Road Opener
Nebraska will play the first of four Big Ten road games at Illinois. In the Big Ten schedule rotation, all West Division teams play five home games and four road contests in 2017.
• Nebraska is 2-4 in Big Ten road openers since joining the conference, including a 24-13 win at Northwestern last season.
Nebraska to Play Rare Weeknight Midseason Game
Nebraska is a regular on Friday at season's end, playing on the Friday following Thanksgiving each of the past 27 seasons. However, the Huskers have made rare weeknight appearances during the middle of the season.
The Big Ten Conference added Friday night games to its schedule this season, including a conference tilt between the Huskers and Fighting Illini.
• Nebraska played Thursday night road contests at Kansas State (2010), Missouri (2009), Southern Miss (2003), Oklahoma State (1995), Texas Tech (1994) and Oklahoma State (1993).
• Nebraska also played a Thursday night home contest against Rice in 2001. The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 15, but was postponed following 9/11.
• Nebraska is a perfect 7-0 in its non-Black Friday weeknight games since 1993.
Huskers Look for Continued Success Against Illini
Nebraska has been victorious in three of four games against Illinois since joining the Big Ten. The Huskers have won three games by 15 or more points, while its lone setback was a last-second one-point loss in 2015.
• NU has outscored Illinois by an average of 32.0-15.6 in the four meetings since 2013.
• The Husker offense has been productive against Illinois, gaining better than 500 yards twice, and averaging 465.0 yards per game in the past four meetings. Illinois has averaged only 340.7 yards per game in the matchups.
• The NU offense has been particularly effective on the ground against Illinois, rushing for 295.8 yards per game over the past four seasons.
Riley in Third Season at Helm of Husker Program
Head Coach Mike Riley is in his third season as the Nebraska head coach in 2017. Riley has guided the Huskers to a 17-13 record.
• Riley is in his 26th season as a head coach, tying for the second-most experience of any FBS head coach entering the 2017 season.
• Riley is one of eight active FBS head coaches who also has experience as an NFL head coach.
• Riley owns 16 victories over nationally ranked opponents during his college head coaching tenure.
Diaco Leading-New Look Blackshirt Defense
Nebraska has three new faces on its defensive staff in 2017. The group is led by new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, while Donté Williams coaches the Husker cornerbacks and Scott Booker tutors the NU safeties.
• Diaco was the winner of the 2012 Broyles Award as the nation's best assistant coach, while at Notre Dame. He is regarded as one of the top defensive minds in college football and has a proven track record of success at the highest level. Diaco came to Nebraska after three seasons as the head coach at the University of Connecticut. Diaco has roots in the Big Ten, twice earning All-Big Ten honors as a linebacker at Iowa in the mid-1990s.
• Williams joined the Nebraska staff last December prior to the Music City Bowl and worked with the secondary during bowl preparation. Williams spent the 2016 season at Arizona, helping compile the Wildcats’ top recruiting class in recent years. He previously coached the secondary at San Jose State, where the Spartans ranked among the nation’s best against the pass under Williams’ direction.
• Booker brings 10 years of full-time FBS coaching experience to the Nebraska sideline, including five seasons on the Notre Dame coaching staff. Before being elevated to safeties coach in June, Booker served as a special teams consultant with the Huskers. In addition to his duties with the safeties, Booker serves as Nebraska's special teams coordinator in 2017.
Jaimes Joins Rare Club for NU Offensive Linemen
True freshman Brenden Jaimes earned his first career start against Rutgers. Jaimes started at right tackle where senior David Knevel and redshirt freshman Matt Farniok were both limited by injury.
A native of Austin, Texas, Jaimes became just the fifth true freshman offensive lineman to start a game at Nebraska since 1972, and the first since 2011. Jaimes is also just the 11th offensive lineman to play at Nebraska as a true freshman.
The status of Knevel and Farniok for this week's game at Illinois remains uncertain.
True Freshman OL Starters in Nebraska History (Since 1972)
• Matt Slauson, OG (3 games, 2005)
• Jacob Hickman, C (1 game, 2006)
• Javorio Burkes, OT (3 games, 2007)
• Tyler Moore, OT (4 games, 2011)
• Brenden Jaimes, OT (1 game, 2017)
Numerous Huskers Make First Career Starts in 2017
Jaimes is among the latest players to make their first career starts for Nebraska in 2017. Against Rutgers, center Michael Decker, receiver Gabe Rahn and linebacker Sedrick King also made their first career starts at Nebraska.
The four first-time starters brought Nebraska's first-time starters total in 2017 to 12 players, including six in the season opener, one at Oregon and two against Northern Illinois.
First-Time starters in 2017
• Tyler Hoppes, TE (4)
• Connor Ketter, TE (3)
• Luke Gifford, LB (4)
• Eric Lee Jr., CB (4)
• Tre Bryant, IB (2)
• Matt Farniok, RFr., OT (2)
• Mikale Wilbon, Jr., IB (2)
• JD Spielman, RFr., WR (2)
• Brenden Jaimes, Fr., OT (1)
• Michael Decker, So., C (1)
• Sedrick King, Jr., LB (1)
• Gabe Rahn, Sr., WR (1)
Injuries Taking Early Toll
Nebraska has had its share of injuries early in the 2017 season. The hits started in the summer when All-America candidate cornerback Chris Jones was sidelined with a knee injury. The timetable for his return is unknown.
Nebraska has been without starters David Knevel (RT), Joshua Kalu (S) and Tre Bryant (IB) for all or part of the past three games, and saw linebacker Marcus Newby, center Cole Conrad and receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. all missed the Rutgers contest.
In addition, key reserves Bryan Reimers (WR) and Tyrin Ferguson (LB) also missed the Rutgers game, and starting safety Aaron Williams was ejected less than five minutes into the game on a targeting call.
• Through four games, Nebraska has lost 14 games by projected starters to injury.
Projected Starters, Games Missed
• Chris Jones, Sr., CB, 4 games
• David Knevel, Sr., OT, 3 games
• Joshua Kalu, Sr., S, 2 games
• Tre Bryant, So.., RB, 2 games
• Marcus Newby, Sr., LB, 1 game
• Stanley Morgan Jr., Jr., WR, 1 game
• Cole Conrad, Jr., C, 1 game
Blackshirt Defense Making Big Strides
The Nebraska defense has been impressive since halftime of week two at Oregon. Since that time, Nebraska's defense has allowed just two touchdowns and 17 points in 10 quarters, with three of those points on a field goal allowed after a Husker interception.
Against Rutgers, Nebraska allowed a 75-yard drive to start the game, but gave up just 119 yards and three points the rest of the game.
• The 194 yards of total offense by Rutgers was the fewest by a Nebraska opponent under Mike Riley, bettering the 207 yards allowed to Maryland last season. Overall, it was the fewest yards allowed by Nebraska in 47 games dating back to a win at Michigan in November of 2013, when the Blackshirts allowed 175 yards. Nebraska has recorded two of the lowest three opponent yardage totals under Mike Riley in the past two weeks (213 vs. No. Illinois).
• In the second half of the win over Rutgers, Nebraska allowed just 58 total yards, 10 rushing yards and three first downs.
• The 194 yards by Rutgers was the fifth-lowest total NU has allowed a Big Ten opponent since joining the conference in 2011.
• The 407 yards allowed the past two games by Nebraska are the fewest yards the Huskers have allowed in back-to-back games since allowing 377 yards to Minnesota and Iowa in 2012.
• Nebraska has allowed only 340 yards and just seven offensive points in the second half of its past three games combined. In the three second halves, the Blackshirts have limited opponents to just 340 yards and 16 first downs over six quarters.
• Since halftime of the Oregon game, Nebraska has forced a total of 13 three-and-out possessions.
Nebraska's full notes package can be found in the PDF file at the top of this page