Big underdog Illinois crushes Nebraska, 41-23

Chase Brown ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns Saturday while Brandon Peters threw for 205 yards and a score as 16 1/2-point underdog Illinois never trailed in administering a 41-23 beating of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb.

The Fighting Illini (2-3 Big Ten Conference) won their second straight game in dominant fashion, rolling to a 28-10 halftime lead after not scoring more than 24 points in a game all year. They exhibited great balance on offense, rushing for 285 yards in addition to Peters’ work in the air.

Mike Epstein added 113 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries for Illinois, while Josh Imatorbhebhe contributed 71 yards on four receptions and a score. Peters hit 18 of 25 passes, spreading his throws among seven receivers.

Freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries for the Cornhuskers (1-3), but struggled in the passing game. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 134 yards, tossing three interceptions.

McCaffrey also turned the ball over on the game’s first snap, throwing what the officials judged to be a lateral that was recovered by linebacker Jake Hansen at the Nebraska 21. Brown cashed in three plays later with a 3-yard touchdown just 1:29 into the game.

The Cornhuskers responded with McCaffrey’s 5-yard scoring run with 9:20 left in the first quarter, but the Illini took the lead for good when Brown went 2 yards for a touchdown at the 5:39 mark.

Peters hit Imatorbhebhe for a 28-yard scoring strike only 72 seconds into the second quarter. Nebraska’s Connor Culp converted a 30-yard field goal halfway through the period, but Epstein answered with a 1-yard touchdown run that upped the margin to 18 at the half.

McCaffrey’s 1-yard sneak at the 6:48 mark of the third quarter sliced the Illinois advantage to 31-17, but Peters finished off a four-minute plus drive with a 1-yard sneak that increased the lead to 38-17.

The result marked the Illini’s first win in Lincoln since 1924.