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Free Pick: Nebraska vs. Illinois
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Nebraska vs. Illinois

The Cornhuskers enter the game as a 7 point favorite in the season opener against the Fighting Illini. Let’s break this one down position group by position group.

Quarterback: Nebraska would appear to have the decided advantage in this very important position. Senior, Adrian Martinez is up and down and has fell out of favor with the coaching staff in the past but he is better than Brandon Peters for Illinois. ADVANTAGE: NEBRASKA

Running Backs: Illinois has three quality backs returning and that should play into what Coach Bret Bielema wants to do on offense. Nebraska has an unproven backfield. ADVANTAGE: ILLINOIS

Receivers: The Huskers have quality at tight end and several others to pick from for Martinez to throw too. Illinois is very similar and may have more depth than Nebraska but it isn’t much of a factor. ADVANTAGE: NEITHER

Offensive Line: Illinois has more experience on the line while Nebraska might start a freshman at tackle. ADVANTAGE: ILLINOIS

Defensive Line: Nebraska is strong up front and a big key will be if they can stop the run. ADVANTAGE: NEBRASKA

Linebackers: The Huskers love their linebackers and have two good seniors to lead the way. ADVANTAGE: NEBRASKA

Secondary: Once again, Nebraska has a lot of experience returning on the back end. However, the Illini do too. ADVANTAGE: NEITHER

Summary from Coach Papa Dude:

In the all-important quarterback position Nebraska, has the edge and that is why I favor them. However, Martinez is a loose cannon and can really screw things up. One would think, Illinois will try to run the ball behind an experienced offensive line and running back room. The Huskers have the defensive personnel to shut that running game down with their experienced front seven. Will Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters be able to make enough plays to win? I think not.

The Bet: Nebraska -7 (but don’t bet the house on this early game)

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