ILLINOIS 20 PENN STATE 17
Last game I went with my head instead of my gut and that didn't work out well, so this time I'm going to try my gut. I know it's only week 5, but I feel Illinois has their backs against the wall in regards of making a bowl game. This team needs four more wins, and looking at the schedule, it's hard to imagine any of them coming on the road (@ Wisconsin, @ Michigan, @ Ohio State, and @ Northwestern), so they will probably need to sweep the remainder of their home games.
It starts with Penn State, a team that has lost a lot of depth thanks to transfers and departures, but unlike Illinois, has found a way to be competitive in every ball game this season. Their season got off to a poor start with a home loss to Ohio, but to their credit the Bobcast look like a pretty solid football team at 4-0 this season. Penn State has scored 11 offensive touchdowns so far, and QB Matt McGloin has been a part of all of them (nine passing, two rushing). So it seems simple, stop McGloin, stop Penn State.
However, the Illinois have had a rough time stopping opposing offenses at times. They looked good against Western Michigan, but Arizona State and Louisiana Tech are two games to forget about. Which defense will show up this weekend?
Coach Beckman has said despite Nathan Scheelhaase's struggles last week, he is still the guy. If that's the case we will need him to get off to better start, and also not turn the ball over. Illinois had six turnovers against a defense that quite frankly isn't all that good. Is that a sign of things to come or was it a fluke?
I feel like Illinois will do just enough to win this one. I'm also hoping that “Stripe the Stadium” pumps this team up enough to get it done, and give them some confidence before a very tough road trip.
What do you guys think? Is it a Big Ten opening victory, or do we get (insert nasty comment) by Penn State? Let me know with your thoughts and predictions below. Talk to you guys after Saturday.
If Coach Beckman still can't figure out which quarterback to use, maybe he can find a way to "replace" them with this guy. I hear he also knows Kung Fu...