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Game Center | No. 17 Illinois at Nebraska; 2:30 p.m., ABC | Sport

I heard exactly zero chants of “Go Big Red!” in the first 30 minutes i was in lincoln nebraska this morning. My first trip here for football is somewhat disappointing. Either the big crowds were somewhere other than near Memorial Stadium, or the Cornhuskers have given up on the season.

I am a child. It’s easier than before. Even after a disastrous start to the season, there seems to be renewed hope for what interim coach Mickey Joseph can do. That’s the gist of what I learned after spending time in Omaha, Neb., on Friday night. Anything would be better than Scott Frost, right?

That’s what makes this game interesting for Illinois. For the first time since divisions began in the Big Ten, the Illini have legitimately earned a division title. And Nebraska does not only play the role of “psyler”. Illinois hasn’t shut this thing down yet, and the Huskers certainly aren’t out of the chase (along with Purdue and Wisconsin).

The extent to which this Illinois State team has been driven by the process this season, which is a direct result of coach Brett Bielem’s approach, should indicate that this will turn into something of a trap. As an aside, it’s still wild to think that Illinois football could have trap games. This season is very different from any other I’ve covered during my time in Champaign.

How far the Illini will take it remains to be seen, of course. A win in Lincoln tonight would obviously be another strong step in the right direction.

Scott Ritchie is a reporter for The News-Gazette covering college basketball. His email srichey@news-gazette.comand you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).


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