Welcome back. Did everyone enjoy their bye week? Good. Let’s get back to prognosticatin’.
As far as the post-bye week state of the Illini address goes, I think things aren’t looking too bad. Obviously, the news that Dallas Hinkhouse and Christian DiLauro are moving to the D line due to depth issues is never something that you want to hear. But we knew the Illini were thin on D to begin with, so it’s not shocking. Overall, I think Loren Tate said it well today on the Saturday Sportsline – the team is coming off a loss, which is never fun, but its confidence was not broken in that loss. The guys are still in a mindset of having much more left to achieve this season, and I expect that mentality to transfer over to the playing field this coming Saturday.
On the other side of things, I was probably one of the few people outside Ohio that dialed up the Miami-Cincinnati game on ESPN3 today (Don’t worry, I had MSU-Notre Dame on mute on the big screen.). If you’re a Miami fan, you probably view the game in a glass half full mentality by pointing out that your defense held Cincy scoreless for over three quarters. But in reality, it was a poorly played game on both sides. Alas, some things to note as you formulate your prediction – (1) the RedHawks like to run the ball, mixing in some triple option looks. So like the UW game, tackling in the box will be key for the Illini defense. (2) MU struggles on third down. The squad was 0 for 11 on Saturday and is 3 of 40 on the year. (3) This isn’t a stat I would hang my hat on if I were involved with a football program, but MU punter Zac Murphy has had a standout year so far, averaging around 50 yards per kick…with a school record 84 yard boot today.
Oh, did you think I wasn’t going to point out that Miami’s quarterback shares his last name with a SCLSU football legend?
My prediction: Illinois 35, Miami 7
So that’s my view. Yours is due by kickoff. Nobody is technically out of the running for the end of the season prize yet, and at a minimum, it’s an opportunity to get the views of your fellow fans and, if you nail the pick, impress your significant other.
Coming up Saturday night: Miami thoughts, prediction standings, & Nebraska predictions
[Boucher photo via whatculture.com, Bobby Boucher & referees audio via YouTube, Austin Boucher audio via muredhawks.com, Hochuli photo via Sports Illustrated]