Huskers look for road win in Big Ten start at Champaign

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- The Huskers open Big Ten Conference play on Saturday night on the road to Champaign taking on the Fighting Illini. Kickoff is scheduled for shortly after 7 p.m.

Coach Scott Frost met with the media Thursday morning in advance of the game and brought an optimistic view of the game ahead.

"We had a really good week," Frost said. "Every week seems to be getting a little better."

The Huskers added a new placekicker. Matt Waldoch joined the team, after playing on the University of Nebraska club soccer team. Waldoch played high school football and soccer at Geneva High School in Illinois.

"Matt Waldoch is his name," Frost said. "Really good kid. He's a Cubs fan, so I like him. He's got a big leg. I think he was a soccer player, and he's officially on the team now. It's a little different and he needs some work at it, but we'll see where he'll develop too. I don't think he'll be on the trip this weekend."

Frost talked about the kicking situation: "We were just kind of dealt a bad hand," Frost said. "This isn't like the NFL where you can go pick up someone new. Most teams only have one scholarship kicker. We're the same. We have a bunch of other guys and they've done a pretty good job, but it's not a situation you want to be in. Hopefully we'll be through it soon and can put it all in our rearview mirror."

He said he expects Illinois to take the field with a better performing team than they had in 2018. "I think they're an improved team," he said. "They're not giving up big plays like they did last year."

Who brings the most improvements will be evident on Saturday night. "We'll see how the chips fall," Frost said.

Nebraska heads into Big Ten action with a 2-1 record, following a 44-8 victory over Northern Illinois last Saturday in Lincoln. Nebraska opened a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back. The Huskers rolled up 525 yards of total offense, including better than 235 yards both rushing and passing.

Illinois enters Saturday's contest with a 2-1 record, following a 34-31 loss to Eastern Michigan on Saturday in Champaign.

The Illini had opened the year with victories over Akron and at Connecticut before the setback last weekend. Coach Lovie Smith's team has been strong on defense this season, allowing less than 320 yards per game, including just 79.3 rushing yards per game.

Nebraska and Illinois have a history of opening league play against each other. Since their first meeting as Big Ten opponents in 2013, the Huskers have opened conference play against Illinois four times in seven seasons. Nebraska is 5-1 against the Illini since joining the Big Ten Conference.

As the Huskers look for a needed win on the road, Frost said Thursday, "I think the kids are excited to prove something to themselves."

Look for national television coverage on BTN and radio coverage available on the Husker Sports Network.