MINNESOTA 28 ILLINOIS 17
Minnesota has struggled in Big Ten play with a 1-4 record, but a win on Saturday will make them bowl eligible. It looks like their magic number is 13. They've scored 13 points in each of their Big Ten losses. Not less than 13 points, but exactly 13 points in each Big Ten defeat. In their one win, against Purdue, they scored 44.
Defensively, they've allowed at least 21 points in each Big Ten game this season. Does this bode well for Illinois? I'd like to think so, but the Illini's inability to attack down the field is exactly what a struggling Gopher defense needs to get back on track. It's kinda sad that Reilly O'Toole threw more touchdowns in one game (five against Charleston Southern), than Nathan Scheelhaase has thrown all season (four). Nathan's completion percentage is nice to look at, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't move the ball and get in the endzone. Plus the running game needs to get more consistent. If it hasn't at this point, it's hard to imagine that changing before year's end.
It's Dad's day at Memorial Stadium and the weather is looking pretty nice for a November game. Here's hoping that increases the crowd a bit and gets some noise in the stadium. With the Illini playing the way they are, it's hard to imagine something like a pleasant forecast adding extra butts in the seats. It's a simple formula: Wins = Attendance. While Illinois won't have a season past game #12, they still have a chance to finish on a positive note, which is exactly what coach Beckman and company need at this point. Unfortunately, I just haven't seen anything recently that makes me think this team can play competitively for 60 minutes. When you play with your head hung down, it's hard to see what you're doing.
What do you guys think? Does Illinois snap the skid, or do the Gophers come up golden? Let me know with your thoughts and predictions below. Talk to you after Saturday.
Minnesota quarterback Max Shortell has only ran for 43 yards this season, so it's save to say he's a "pocket gopher" Here he is with plenty of protection in the pocket.