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Week 9 - Indiana at Illinois
Posted Oct 26, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Indiana at Illinois

Indiana (2-5) at Illinois (2-5) Oct 27, 12:00, BTN

Here’s The Deal: It hasn’t been a fun ride for either team, but it has been harder on an Illinois team that was supposed to be good under new head coach Tim Beckman. The cupboard wasn’t left totally bare with the firing of Ron Zook, but there hasn’t been any offensive production with just 21 points in Big Ten play, and with five ugly losses when the team looked completely and totally outclassed. There are still chances to turn everything around with winnable games against Minnesota and Purdue at home, but first the Illini has to finally get something going to get by an Indiana squad that beat UMass, and that’s it for the FBS wins.

At least the Hoosiers have been close. They lost to Ball State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Navy by a grand total of ten points, but they don’t have the defense to come up with the big stop when needed, while the offense isn’t consistent enough in the clutch. The passing game is the best in the Big Ten in total yards, but this needs to be the week when the D comes up with just a few plays to finally show some ray of hope. This year is considered a step forward, but it would be nice if there were a few wins attached to the learning process.

Why Indiana Might Win: Unlike Illinois, IU has an offense that actually works. The defense is giving up way too many yards and far too many points, but at least the offense has been able to keep up the pace no matter who’s at quarterback. There’s a decent running game with Stephen Houston doing just enough to help balance things out, while the passing game has been terrific at times with Cameron Coffman stepping into the starting roll and being good for around 250 yards a game. Illinois has proved it can melt down when things start going downhill with no pass rush to bother the quarterback and not enough of a steady run defense to hold up against the more physical teams. Basically, the Hoosiers can do things the Illini can’t. But …

Why Illinois Might Win: There’s just so much talent and potential. The defensive front seven has future NFL starters. Nathan Scheelhaase, when healthy, can be as good as any quarterback in the Big Ten. Well, maybe on a given day, but overall, the athleticism is in place to do far, far more than get blown out of the water on a weekly basis. It’s possible that the Illini has to play someone its own size. Arizona State, Louisiana Tech, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan are all among the 30 best teams in the country. Indiana is probably around the mid-60s in terms of overall ranking; Illinois can stay with a team like this, and it has to get a little bit of early momentum and a few scores just to provide a little bit of confidence.

What To Watch Out For: Is anyone on Illinois actually healthy? Scheelhaase has had issues from his ankle to a concussion while defensive stars linebacker Jonathan Brown and end Michael Buchanan are trying to get healthy. In and out of the lineup from the start of the season, Scheelhaase hasn’t been able to get into any sort of a groove, even though he did his best to carry the offense against Penn State and Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Brown, who missed last year’s game against Indiana after being suspended for one game, has yet to come up with double digit stops in any game. Last season he cranked out ten or more tackles in six of his final eight games, while Buchanan hasn’t been anywhere near the pass rusher he was expected to become with just 2.5 sacks.

What Will Happen: Indiana will finally get just the right breaks, including three key turnovers, to pull off a win. The offensive balance will be just enough to overcome a huge day from an Illini ground attack that will crank out over 250 yards.

CFN Prediction: Indiana 38 … Illinois 34
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Illinois -2 O/U: 58.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don’t Trust The B In Apt. 23): 2