A look back at the loss to Michigan and a look ahead to Ball State:
Every game has a defining moment when the outcome is established. Here is the play from Saturday's Illinois-Michigan game:
The game is tied 17-17 midway through the fourth quarter. Despite a pair of 15-yard penalties against Illini defensive backs Vontae Davis (face mask) and Kevin Mitchell (personal foul), Illinois stops the Michigan drive and forces a punt from the Illinois 43.
Working with a short field, Michigan's Zoltan Mesko lofts a punt high toward Illinois returner Kyle Hudson, who is standing at his own 12 yard line. The hang time gives Michigan's defenders a chance to surround Hudson.
The Illinois baseball center fielder drops the ball and Michigan's Sean Griffin falls on it. Instead of taking over with a chance for the winning score, the Illini have to go back on defense.
It takes two plays for the Wolverines to score the winning points. After a 2-yard run by Carlos Brown, Lloyd Carr dips into his bag of tricks, which he has done often in the past against Illinois. Chad Henne hands the ball to Adrian Arrington on what looks like a reverse. But Arrington pulls up and fires a touchdown pass to Mario Manningham. Michigan later adds a field goal for the final margin, continuing Illinois' 24-year home winless streak against the Wolverines.
The record (5-3)
Missouri 40, Illinois 34
Illinois 21, Western Illinois 0
Illinois 41, Syracuse 20
Illinois 27, Indiana 14
Illinois 27, Penn State 20
Illinois 31, Wisconsin 26
Iowa 10, Illinois 6
Michigan 27, Illinois 17
Saturday, vs. Ball St., 11 a.m.
Nov. 3, at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Nov. 10, at Ohio State
Nov. 17, vs. Northwestern
Illinois welcomes Ball State on Saturday. A quick read on the Cardinals:
Down 23-20 late in the game, Ball State scored on a 1-yard run by Frank Edmonds to beat Western Michigan 27-23 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Ball State's Donte Love and Louis Johnson both had 100 yards receiving.
Who to watch
Ball State quarterback Nate Davis. The sophomore might just be the best player you've never heard of, throwing 20 touchdown passes against three interceptions. He can also run, gaining 57 yards in a near miss at Nebraska.
Where to watch
Well, it's back to the Big Ten Network for the Illini, who will be playing their fourth game on the first-year station. And next week's game at Minnesota is also on the Big Ten Network.
Reason to watch
For the third consecutive week, Illinois tries to become bowl eligible. That's the same goal for the Cardinals, who are 5-3 and thinking about a MAC title.
By the numbers
Though Illinois has never played the Cardinals, this will be its 13th game against current members of the MAC. Illinois is 9-3 against the league, with all three losses coming against Ohio. The Bobcats beat the Illini last season in Champaign.
The record (5-3)
Miami (Ohio) 14, Ball State 13
Ball State 38, E. Michigan 16
Ball State 34, Navy 31, OT
Nebraska 41, Ball State 40
Ball State 49, Buffalo 14
C. Michigan 58, Ball State 38
Ball State 35, W. Kentucky 12
Ball State 27, W. Michigan 23
Saturday, at Illinois, 11 a.m.
Nov. 3, at Indiana
Nov. 13, vs. Toledo
Nov. 24, at Northern Illinois