Staff writer Marcus Jackson's breakdown of today's game (11 a.m., BTN)
Will this be the end of Illinois' streak against FCS opponents?
Teams from the division formerly known as I-AA have had some success this season against the big boys — Youngstown State beat Pitt, Tennessee-Martin beat Memphis, Northern Arizona beat UNLV — so it could happen. The Illini are 11-0 against FCS opponents, winning by an average margin of 29 points per game. The upset today isn't likely. The Buccaneers have lost 15 straight. Central Florida beat them 62-0 to open the season last year, and the next week Florida State claimed a 62-10 win.
What will the crowd be like?
Not great but probably better than the season opener, when the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac scared most folks away from Memorial Stadium. Estimates from UI officials late in the week predicted between 40,000 and 45,000 tickets sold for the 60,670-seat venue. Whatever the number, it's sure to be more than Charleston Southern is used to. For the Buccaneers' home opener last week against Jacksonville, the announced attendance was 2,136.
Will the Illinois defense bounce back?
The proud Illini defenders were humbled after last week's loss at Arizona State. A unit that held the vaunted Western Michigan offense to 259 yards of total offense and minus-6 on the ground was shredded for 510 yards last week. Players chalked it up to missed tackles against the Sun Devils, and the coaches said the Sun Devils picked up 228 yards after missed tackles last week. Against the Buccaneers' option attack, tackling will be crucial.
What's up with Nathan Scheelhaase?
Although he practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, the junior quarterback will miss today's game, Illinois sports information director Kent Brown confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday. Scheelhaase sprained his ankle against Western Michigan. The Illini struggled to put points on the board last week without Scheelhaase in a 45-14 loss at Arizona State. Reilly O'Toole, who will start today, and Miles Osei split time at quarterback in that game.
Who will be the breakout star?
Last week, Josh Ferguson introduced himself to folks around the Big Ten with a 101-yard performance against Arizona State. Expect his running mate, Donovonn Young, to get in on some of the fun today, too. Young has rushed for 100 yards once in his career, but that was 11 games ago. Young will be pitted against a Charleston Southern defense that has yielded 577 yards on the ground in two games this season, and if the Illini get a lead early, they'll run often.