Scott Frost- The biggest loser isn’t the Nebraska football program, but their head coach. The term “outcoached” is overly used, but there is no doubt that Bret Bielema completely outcoached Scott Frost. As expected the first half was sloppy as both offenses tried to find their footing. As Brandon Peters was taken out of the game Nebraska had a 9-2 lead, and Illinois’s offense looked even more “out of sorts” with Artur Sitkowski under center. Illinois did a great job righting the ship and looked solid in the second half. Nebraska turned the ball over and failed to protect Adrian Martinez. This forced the Cornhusker defense (which had its moments) into bad situations and was worn down by the end. As the game went on Illinois got better, Nebraska got worse, and that is squarely on Scott Frost.
Hawaii- UCLA is going to be a great football team this year. They have the most production returning of any Power 5 program, so there is no shame in losing to them. With that being said, Hawaii didn’t show up. The defense was the most disappointing considering their linebackers and secondary are suppose to be a key strength. Hopefully, UCLA is the real deal and Hawaii can get back on the right track next week against Portland State.
Illinois- The Bret Bielema era starts with a win. The Fighting Illini got better as the game went on. The offense looked more in synch in the second half even after starting quarterback Brandon Peters went down in the second quarter due to an injury. The defensive line was the biggest surprise as they were getting pressure on Adrian Martinez, and stopping most of the run game. Only a few Martinez scrambles accounted for over half of their rushing yards, one being a 75-yard touchdown. Is Illinois going to contend for the Big Ten West? Probably not, but it’s safe to say Bret Bielema has the Illini in the right direction out of the gate.
UCLA- Chip Kelly finally has all the pieces he needs to make a Pac-12 run. Both the offense and defense have reloaded from last year returning a total of 19 starters. Dorian Thompson-Robinson wasn’t perfect but he looked solid. The defense made things very difficult for the Rainbow Warriors. They swarmed to the football in the open field and had a stellar pass rush. After this performance against a sound Hawaii team, it is not crazy to think the UCLA Bruins could make a run at the Pac-12 South. The true test awaits next week when the LSU Tigers come to the Rose Bowl.