There will be no ranked teams in the first weekend of games, but some high-profile schools are slated to play. There will be five games on Saturday with the Fighting Illini and Cornhuskers kicking things off.
Both schools finished the 2020 season under .500. Illinois finished dead last in the west division of the Big Ten with a 2-6 record and Nebraska finished fifth in the division with a 3-5 record.
Brandon Peters will lead the charge for Illinois. He had 429 passing yards and three touchdown passes in five games last season. He was named to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and Maxwell Award watch list to start the season.
“If you truly sit down and watch him, he has a special arm. He has all of the tools, it just comes down to if he can make the right throws at the right times,” first-year Illinois coach Bret Bielema said in a news conference earlier in the week.
Illinois’ defense, which allowed about two passing and rushing touchdowns per game last season, will have to stop Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez.
Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters (18) throws against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half at Memorial Stadium. (Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports)
The junior Nebraska quarterback was also named to the Golden Arm watch list. He had 1,055 passing yards and four passing touchdowns last season. He also had seven rushing touchdowns.
Nebraska defensive lineman Damion Daniels and linebacker JoJo Domann will be among the Cornhuskers trying to contain Peters on defense.
“We all know we have to create some more pressure on the quarterback,” Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said earlier this month. “The pass rush in camp has been much improved. Is it where we want it to be? No. We still have a ways to go but it has been much improved from last year. Same group but much improved from this group to the last group just from their growth within themselves.”
Illinois defeated Nebraska last year, 41-23. Saturday’s game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET and can be seen on FOX.
Fresno State vs. UConn (2 p.m. ET; CBS Sports Network)
San Jose State vs. Southern Utah (10 pm ET; CBS Sports Network)