Saturday afternoon was not the best hour of Husker's defense.
Former quarterback Nebraska AJ Bush set his old team on fire for 331 yards, and Okazaki Illini scored 509 yards and 35 points in their losing effort.
But despite the struggles on the statistics card, the defense of Nebraska strengthened its identity under Scott Frost.
In the third game, Huskers forced three or more turns. More importantly, they have turned five Illinois turns into 24 points. In a 19-point win, these take-out dishes made the difference between winning and winning close.
This defensive identity is nothing new for teams led by Frost. His UCF team from 2017 forced 32 turnovers, which helped offset 428 yards per allowed game. In the first year in Nebraska his team continues this trend.
The Huskers for the first time began to forge this identity in the victory over Minnesota. After almost giving up the 28-point lead, they forced a downward turn on the goal line and intercepted the passage in the end zone to help build a return. Then, in relation to the unmatched Bethune-Cookman, the team forced three turns (including interception of another red zone).
Three turns against Bethune-Cookman might seem insignificant, given that the game was never close, but turned the event into a habit.
This habit moved to November, when three take-away meals halted the Huskers in an Ohio game last week.
In today's match against Illinois, the Huskers forced their returns when they needed them most. Bush and junior escaping Reggie Corbin set fire to Nebraska earlier and helped the Illini shaft with two fast Husker tactics. In the second quarter, ending games 21-14, Illinois had the chance to restore the game after having forced Nebraska to the first game. But instead, Carlos Sandy began to rummage in puntu, and Huskers stopped possession in Illinois.
The error related to the turnover officially bitten Illinois. During the next ride it turned out that Illini intend to play again for one result. Bush and Corbin led Fighting Illini on the field in 10 pieces and were approaching the red zone. However, the elder Tre Neal knocked the ball out of the hands of Bush, and the second in turn JoJo Domann recovered. Three plays later Huskers had lead 31-14.
Illini still had a chance to return to the game. They defeated the area for ground and forced them to leave 20 seconds. First, scoring the ball in the second half, they had a chance of a draw or an advantage in the second half if they scored before the break. Instead, Jordan Holmes suppressed the punt and heads-up play by senior Wyatt Mazou kept the ball alive to get her back to Huskers. Instead of hauling 10 or less, a half-bout halfway gave Nebraska the advantage of 38-21 in the middle.
The fourth turn of Nebraska appeared at the beginning of the second half, when Illinois again crossed the aid. This time, the Bush pass bounced through the wide receiver Dominica Stampley and was intercepted by Aaron Williams's higher security. As a result of the capture, a 17-bar landing disc, landing with 82 yards, was set up, which completely frozen the game.
In the case of an attack that runs just as fast as Nebraska, it is impractical to expect that defense will be as scant as other elements of the Big Ten defense. In order for the Huskers to be able to return to the elite status, they will have to defend themselves in turnover and create more scoring opportunities for the crime.
The landscape of the conference is changing. More specifically, the landscape of Big Ten West is changing. Purdue and Nebraska have two of the most explosive crimes in the country, and both are run by freshmen. The Illinois strike took third place under the wings of Lovie Smith and now has more talents than in the last 10 years. Facing such units, including the Ohio State crime and the Wisconsin cross-country match, will be defensive.
That is why creating new opportunities is more important for Nebraska. Forced revolutions back to Ohio State completely changed the complexity of the game. That they could not do in Wisconsin just a month earlier. Their forced trade in Illinois and Minnesota helped them get the separation they needed in these victories, which they could not do in close combat with Colorado and Northwestern.
At the age of 3-7, playing in a bowl seems unlikely. Still, there is a lot to play. These last two games will be about creating good habits for the next season. Forcing turnover and capitalizing them is a good habit for Nebraska.