The Nebraska football team has opened as an 18-point favorite against the Illinois Fighting Illini. That marks the largest spread as the favorite the Huskers have had all season against FBS opponents. That's despite the fact that Illinois is 4-5 on the season and the Huskers are 2-7. If there's one thing this spread demonstrates, it's that the national attention being paid to Nebraska is starting to trend towards the more positive. So, how does Nebraska look in my new Big Ten power rankings?

Nebraska football getting national love

Most Nebraska football fans are likely considering the Huskers the favorite, but nearly a three-touchdown spread should even surprise some of the most dedicated fans.

It's certainly going to be something Illinois fans take offense to. It appears a big win over Minnesota, followed by a complete blowout of Bethune Cookman, has convinced some in Vegas the Huskers have turned the corner.

Scott Frost's boys giving Ohio State all it could handle likely moved them closer to convincing the country, as a whole, that something really has changed since the beginning of the season. The really interesting thing is that Illinois is coming off a blowout of Minnesota as well. It appears that the real difference between Illinois and Nebraska is that Vegas, and therefore the public at large, who are likely to put money on a game like this, simply trust the Cornhuskers to be a much better team than the Illini.

That's good news when trying to figure out what the national feeling surrounding the Huskers might be. This is likely going to be one of the worst seasons the Huskers have ever suffered through. They are going to need to win out in order to avoid a piece of history. Conversely, Illinois is actually having one of its best seasons in recent memory, record-wise.

It's certainly the best record of the Lovie Smith era.

Illini and the Huskers are similar

Coming into the season, Lovie had a total of five wins at Illinois. He might get that in one season in 2018. That's certainly not a given. His final three games are against Nebraska, Iowa, and Northwestern. The prevailing opinion is that his team is going to finish 4-8.

Still an improvement over the last two years, but not a great record in year three of a rebuild. It's been slow and steady, instead of a quick turnaround.

Nebraska football fans would kill to be 4-5 at this point in the season. They'd be talking about a bowl bid and how likely it is. They know it's not at all for this season. The Huskers are also seeing a rebuild taking a bit longer than the fans would have liked. Still, it appears it's accelerating as they hit the final stretch of the 2018 season.