CHAMPAIGN -- Senior linebacker Hardy Nickerson knows last year's 48-14 drubbing in Chapel Hill is still fresh in his teammates' minds.
"All the older guys I've talked to that played in that game, there's a little bit of bitterness in their mouth about what happened last year," Nickerson said. "They're looking forward to putting in a great week of work and getting back out there on that field and avenging that loss."
Lovie Smith expects Memorial Stadium to be rocking when North Carolina comes to town Saturday night for a primetime showdown.
"Excited about the gameday atmosphere I'm sure we're going to have here," Smith said. "We keep talking about having a home-field advantage here. Part of that is kind of the whole experience that you have and it should be a special one this week."
"I haven't had a night game at Memorial Stadium in a long time," Wes Lunt said. "I think a lot of people will be coming out to this one. We're expecting a packed house with it being a night game against a really good opponent. We're excited for it."
The Illini are coming off an impressive 52-3 win over Murray State, while the Tar Heels will try to bounce back from a tough loss to No. 18 Georgia. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 pm on Saturday.