The University of Illinois Fighting Illini will take on Big Ten rival Indiana University Hoosiers at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium. The Illini are coming off of a loss against Michigan State in which the Illini were actually winning by 3 at halftime. Unfortunately for the Illinois fans the Illini didn’t put another point on the board the rest of the game and lost 26-6. Illinois’ defense looked like a ranked defense the first half against the Spartans by holding them to only 3 points in the half. The problem for them is that their offense just cannot put points on the board so the defense constantly has to crack down and not allow anything. The Illini offense had a rough day last Saturday. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had three interceptions and A.J. Jenkins had a crucial fumble after a long pass down the field from Scheelhaase. Mikel LeShoure had another great game running the ball. In the first half the offense was able to drive the ball down the field, mainly from their running attack. The only problem was every time the offense would get into the red zone they would not take risks and would settle for a field goal. Here’s an interesting fact though; the Illini actually lead the nation in red zone efficiency. They are 19 for 19 in possessions in the red zone. That absolutely shocked me that the Illini could lead the nation in any kind of statistic like that.
The Indiana Hoosiers are coming off of a tight win against Alabama State, beating them 36-34 in their own Homecoming in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have 4 wins and 2 losses, the losses coming to explosive Michigan and ranked Ohio State. A key player for the Hoosiers is quarterback Ben Chappell. Chappell averages a staggering 310 yards per game in the air and has a total of 16 touchdowns. By those numbers alone, it is easy to see that this game is going to be a tale of two completely opposite offenses. The Illini are all about running the ball, the passing game is just a little add-on in order to not just have the opposing defense stack the box and stop the run. The Hoosiers are all about throwing the ball. The biggest weakness, which is still not a big weakness considering how well they are playing, on Illini’s defense would be defending the pass. They tend to give up a lot of short yardage passes, which works in favor for the Hoosiers. What is good for the defense is they tend to not give up big plays, which is great.
The key players for the game on the Illini’s side are the defense. They are proving themselves to the students and fans here at the University of Illinois and hopefully won’t let them down this weekend. On offense, as usual, the key players are Nathan Scheelhaase and Mikel LeShoure. LeShoure needs to keep up the great work of his hard nosed running. Scheelhaase has been a player that usually does not lose the game for the team but last week he might have done that. This week he will need to not turn the ball over and to make sure he still runs the ball when dropping back every now and then. With this happening the Fighting Illini will be celebrating Homecoming with even more joy.
PREDICTION: Illini- 24, Hoosiers- 14
About the Author
Written by Gregg Pluta
I am currently a sophomore in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.