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Illinois Getting Players Back, Looking to Build on Season's First Win

A couple teams trying to establish some mojo meet when Nebraska hosts Illinois on Saturday.

Both programs are in building mode, and both are coming off their first wins.


Illinois (1-3, 1-3 Big Ten) has played consecutive road games 10 of the last 12 seasons and hasn’t won both since knocking off Minnesota and Ohio State in back-to-back weeks in 2007.


Fifth-year Illini coach Lovie Smith, coming off a win at Rutgers last week, said he wants to see if his team can take the next step. Illinois has 25 seniors this season, more than the combined 21 on the rosters for the last two seasons.


The Cornhuskers (1-2, 1-2) beat Penn State at home last week and are expected to start redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey at quarterback again.


Illinois’ quarterback situation has been jumbled because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.


Senior Brandon Peters, who started the opener against Wisconsin, is available after sitting out three weeks because of the virus. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Williams started against Rutgers and ran 31 times for a school quarterback-record 195 yards and a touchdown.


Nebraska had to rally from 14 points down in the third quarter against a bruising Illini defense to win 42-38 in Champaign, Illinois, last year. The Huskers had 674 yards, their highest output ever in a Big Ten game.

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