This coming Saturday, the Nebraska football team hosts Illinois, in a conference battle, at Lincoln Memorial Stadium. The two teams will meet for the first time this season, with each wanting to come away with an important win. For Nebraska, winning this game, and the next two could lead to a potential bowl game. However, Illinois head coach Lovie Smith believes his team has what it takes to win this game and recently discussed their mentality going in.

Lovie Smith on playing Nebraska

Lovie Smith has coached the Illinois Fighting Illini since 2016 and has a 9-24 record.

However, this head coach has NFL experience, including a season in which he was at the helm for the Chicago Bears' second-ever Super Bowl run. Smith coached the Bears for eight years, and then had a two-season stay as the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before moving into the college coaching ranks.

He recently joined Martin O'Donnell for another episode of his weekly show. During that episode, O'Donnell asked Smith about the preparation and keys for the Nebraska football game. Smith instantly brought up the environment the game will be in.

Smith admitted they know they're going into a "hostile environment." He added that even though you can say that about most Big Ten stadiums, "Nebraska has a history." Smith said, "eventually it's going to come down to the guys 11 on 11 on the field." So one of the major keys to winning is being able to handle that adversity on the road.

Smith spoke about how it's easier for the defensive players in that tough environment, as they'll stay quiet and focus on what they need to do. He said the offensive players will be more concerned with the crowd noise and getting the plays run right. Still, he sounded confident in his guys saying "With an offense like the way we have it, we feel we'll be able to get some things done."

The major component of the offense could be Illinois' rushing attack.

They tallied 430 yards and five touchdowns in last week's 55-31 victory against Minnesota. The Fighting Illini averaged 12.3 yards per rushing carry, as well. Nebraska is looking toward their own offense, which is powered by quarterback Adrian Martinez, to outperform the visitors.

Illinois vs Nebraska history

The Huskers are currently 2-7 for the season, and many fans saw them leading Ohio State into the third quarter.

However, they ultimately lost to the No. 10 team and didn't capture the major upset. Now, they're trying to win the last three games of the season to improve to 5-7 and hopefully achieve college bowl game eligibility.

In terms of these two teams playing one another during Smith's time at Illinois, Nebraska football holds a 2-0 record in those meetings. They defeated Smith's Fighting Illini, 28-6, last season, thanks to 246 yards passing and three touchdowns thrown by Tanner Lee. The Huskers also had 106 yards rushing from Devine Ozigbo and 96 yards receiving from Stanley Morgan Jr., who also had a touchdown apiece.

In Smith's first season with Illinois, his team fell, 31-16, as Nebraska improved to a 5-0 overall record.

Running back Terrell Newby had 140 yards and two touchdowns in the game, while quarterback Tommy Armstrong was 16-of-23 with 220 yards and a TD pass.

The point spread and odds are already heavily in Nebraska's favor for this one. Nebraska could also set a major offensive record in school history. Still, Lovie Smith has to show some confidence for the sake of his team. Anything's possible even in a hostile Lincoln Memorial Stadium this Saturday.