HQ prediction: UI 45, Miami (Ohio) 14
2 Nathan Scheelhaase 6-3 205 Sr. Kansas City, Mo.
16 Austin Boucher 6-1 213 Sr. Kettering, Ohio
Edge: Illinois. Scheelhaase threw for 340 yards in the first half of the season opener against Southern Illinois. That’s 72 more yards than Boucher has thrown. All season. In three games, Boucher has completed 40 percent of his passes and has topped 100 yards once. Granted, the RedHawks are rolling out a run-first, option attack after Zac Dysert graduated from Miami (Ohio) last year. All the Denver Broncos’ third-string quarterback did was throw for 12,013 yards in his four seasons in Oxford, good for 20th all time. Despite Scheelhaase’s struggles against Washington, expect him to put up similar numbers like he did against SIU and Cincinnati.
6 Josh Ferguson 5-10 195 Soph. Naperville
22 Spencer Treadwell 5-10 205 Soph. East Lansing, Mich.
Edge: Illinois. Only 3 yards separate Donovonn Young and Ferguson for top rushing honors on the Illini. Potential is there Saturday for either Young (128 yards) or Ferguson (125 yards) to surpass the 100-yard barrier. Miami (Ohio) held Cincinnati to 198 rushing yards last week, but that came after Kentucky (262) and Marshall (304) ran roughshod against the RedHawks. The RedHawks have, suffice to say, struggled on the ground this season. Backup quarterback Austin Gearing leads Miami (Ohio) with 59 rushing yards. It appears Treadwell, the son of RedHawks coach Don Treadwell, will get the first crack at Illinois’ defense, but he hasn’t exactly instilled fear in opponents, rushing for 35 yards on 12 carries this season.
12 Ryan Lankford 6-0 175 Sr. Jacksonville, Fla.
8 Miles Osei 6-0 195 Sr. Mount Prospect
80 Spencer Harris 6-3 205 Sr. Greenwood, Ark.
25 Dawan Scott 6-1 191 Jr. Columbia, S.C.
85 Alvonta Jenkins 6-0 204 Soph. Camden, S.C.
6 Rokeem Williams 6-1 204 Fr. Williston, S.C.
Edge: Illinois. Lankford is Scheelhaase’s No. 1 target and has had two games of at least 100 receiving yards so far. Osei and Harris contribute more in the run game with their blocking, while Martize Barr is a dependable option who has played well in his two games at Memorial Stadium. His acrobatic touchdown catch against Cincinnati is the most impressive reception Illinois has had all season. Steve Hull has played well at home, too, but his drop against Washington was a glaring mistake. Scott, whom Miami (Ohio) also will use on some running plays, is the RedHawks’ leading receiver, which isn’t exactly saying much. He has 91 yards on five receptions but is capable. He caught 57 passes for 891 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Williams had a solid game against Marshall but has only caught one pass in his last two games, a clear sign of the decreased emphasis Miami (Ohio) has put on passing this season.
3 Jon Davis 6-3 240 Jr. Louisville, Ky.
87 Steve Marck 6-3 237 Sr. Newtown, Pa.
Edge: Illinois. Davis will share time on the field with Evan Wilson and Matt LaCosse. Davis was used more out of the backfield against Washington than anywhere else, and LaCosse had a career-best 35-yard reception against the Huskies off a trick pass from Osei. Wilson didn’t catch a pass against Washington — although he was open on a few plays — which is the first time he did not have a reception this season. Marck has the most receptions for the RedHawks this season (again, not saying much) with six catches for 59 yards — and the lone receiving touchdown for Miami (Ohio) this season. That came in the first quarter of the season opener against Marshall. Yikes.
68 Simon Cvijanovic 6-5 310 Jr. Cleveland
74 Michael Heitz 6-5 305 Jr. Vermont
52 Alex Hill 6-3 315 Jr. Slidell, La.
69 Ted Karras 6-4 300 Soph. Indianapolis
70 Corey Lewis 6-6 315 Sr. Cresco, Pa.
53 Terry Davis 6-4 318 Fr. Cincinnati
65 Trevan Brown 6-4 287 Soph. Florence, Ky.
75 Marcus Matthews 6-3 307 Jr. Manassas, Va.
67 John Anevski 6-3 286 Sr. Cincinnati
71 Zach Lewis 6-6 281 Jr. Mount Prospect
Edge: Illinois. Both teams are in the bottom third of the nation in sacks allowed. Easily. Illinois has given up nine in three games, while the RedHawks have surrendered 12 in three games. Not pretty numbers at all. And that’s based on Illinois not giving up a sack against Cincinnati, while Boucher was only sacked once in the season opener against Marshall. Not all of the four sacks Illinois gave up against Washington were the fault of the offensive line. Most were coverage sacks in which either the receivers could not get open or Scheelhaase did not throw the ball away quickly enough. Having Cvijanovic, Heitz, Hill, Karras and Lewis intact should provide a boost against a Miami (Ohio) defense that doesn’t exactly have the best pass rush.
59 Tim Kynard 6-3 270 Sr. Toledo, Ohio
95 Jake Howe 6-3 300 Jr. McHenry
44 Austin Teitsma 6-2 290 Jr. Glen Ellyn
55 Houston Bates 6-3 250 Jr. Covington, La.
9 Wes Williams 6-3 249 Sr. Houston
90 Austin Brown 6-2 280 Sr. Woodbridge, Va.
99 Mitch Winters 6-5 271 Soph. Mississauga, Ontario
95 Bryson Albright 6-5 226 Soph. Cincinnati
Edge: Illinois. Three of the four forced fumbles Illinois has manufactured have come from defensive linemen. And two of the three fumble recoveries Illinois has had have come from this unit. Bates and Kynard should put consistent pressure on Boucher when he throws the ball. Depth is the key issue regarding the defensive line for Illinois, mainly at defensive tackle, but this game could come at the right time for Illinois. Miami (Ohio) is averaging 53 plays a game this year. Quite the contrast from the first three teams Illinois has played, which have had Illinois’ defense on the field for an average of 75 plays. Miami has only had one sack all season from Brown, so don’t expect Scheelhaase to get rushed too often.
45 Jonathan Brown 6-1 230 Sr. Memphis, Tenn.
43 Mason Monheim 6-1 235 Soph. Orrville, Ohio
34 Mike Svetina 6-2 235 Soph. Brunswick, Ohio
48 Chris Wade 6-1 224 Sr. Slidell, La.
43 Kent Kern 6-1 231 Soph. Toledo, Ohio
51 Josh Dooley 6-0 212 Soph. Mason, Ohio
Edge: Illinois. It’s a good sign that Brown and Monheim are ranked first and second in the Big Ten in tackles. But it also could be construed as a negative given how often the Illinois defense has had to stay on the field, mainly against Washington. Brown’s 15 tackles against Washington are the most by a Big Ten player this season, and his 12.7 tackles per game rank third nationally. Monheim has 30 stops on the season and has had back-to-back games with double-digit tackle totals. Kern is the leader of the RedHawks’ defense. His 34 tackles lead the team and have him ninth nationally in tackles per game (11.3). Wade could cause havoc as well, having forced one fumble and recovered two more. Dooley is third on the RedHawks in tackles with 23, but with the way Brown and Monheim are playing this year, Illinois has the decided advantage.
2 V’Angelo Bentley 5-10 190 Soph. Cleveland
9 Earnest Thomas 6-2 210 Jr. Orchard Lake, Mich.
3 Taylor Barton 6-1 215 Fr. Orlando, Fla.
27 Eaton Spence 6-0 185 Soph. Belle Glade, Fla.
3 Dayonne Nunley 5-8 186 Sr. Monroeville, Pa.
35 Brison Burris 5-10 183 Jr. Humble, Texas
14 Jay Mastin 6-1 214 Fr. Centerville, Ohio
24 Heath Harding 5-10 178 Fr. Englewood, Ohio
Edge: Miami. Based solely on interceptions. The RedHawks have three this year, with Nunley, Mastin and Harding each picking off a pass, while Illinois only has one, Barton securing the lone pick against Cincinnati. The Illinois secondary will have to help more in run support against the RedHawks than worry about the deep and intermediate routes like they’ve had to deal with through the first three games. Thomas and Spence have done a good job in that regard. Look for Illinois to continue to utilize freshmen Darius Mosely and Jaylen Dunlap in meaningful parts of the game. Going up against a weaker receivers corps should produce better results for those younger players than it did against an experienced and talented Washington group.
17 Taylor Zalewski (K, KO) 6-3 220 Soph. Orland Park
18 Justin DuVernois (P) 6-1 190 Jr. Plantation, Fla.
54 Zach Hirth (LS) 6-4 220 Fr. Eureka, Mo.
86 Tim Russell (Holder) 6-6 235 Sr. St. Charles
2 V’Angelo Bentley (KR, PR) 5-10 190 Soph. Cleveland
8 Miles Osei (KR, PR) 6-0 200 Sr. Mount Prospect
13 Kaleb Patterson (K) 5-9 176 Soph. Duncan, S.C.
39 Mason Krysinski 6-3 196 Sr. Shelby Township, Mich.
45 Zac Murphy (P) 6-0 207 Sr. Cincinnati
79 Bryce Lehwald (LS) 5-11 200 Soph. Hilliard, Ohio
9 Drew Kummer (Holder) 6-3 219 Soph. Cincinnati
25 Dawan Scott (KR) 6-1 191 Jr. Columbia, S.C.
18 Fred McRae (PR) 5-9 179 Fr. Miami
Edge: Illinois. The RedHawks boast the most prolific punter in the country. Murphy boomed a school-record 84-yard punt against Cincinnati, and his 49.8 average on 28 punts this year is tops in the nation. But Patterson missed his only field goal attempt of the season, a 41-yard try against Kentucky, and Krysinski has only one touchback in six kickoffs. DuVernois earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week following his superb efforts against Washington, and Zalewski made a season-long 40-yard field goal against the Huskies at Soldier Field. But the two field goal misses Zalewski has had this season stand out almost more than having almost half of his kickoffs (10 of 21) result in touchbacks. Bentley and Osei continue to form a solid tandem in the return game, which has helped Illinois start drives with decent field position more often than not. McRae has a 32-yard punt return to his name this season and is averaging 15 yards on punt returns, so he is a player Illinois will have circled on its scouting report.
Tim Beckman At UI (4-11) Overall (25-27)
Don Treadwell At Miami (8-19) Overall (8-19)
Edge: Illinois. Beckman used his success at a MAC school to land in the Big Ten. It looks like the only way Treadwell will get back into the Big Ten is in another assistant coaching role. The former Michigan State offensive coordinator under Mark Dantonio has not exactly impressed the RedHawks’ fan base since assuming the top job after the 2010 season, when Michael Haywood left for his ill-fated and abbreviated stay as Pitt’s coach. The RedHawks program had one losing season between 1990 and 2004 with the late Randy Walker and the late Terry Hoeppner in charge. Since Hoeppner left to take the Indiana job prior to the 2005 season, Miami has had six losing seasons. Beckman had mixed success against the RedHawks when he was at Toledo, with Miami beating his Rockets 31-24 in 2009 for Miami’s only win that season. But Beckman made up for it in 2011, when Toledo won 49-28.
Illinois started the week as a 24-point favorite. Go with the over on the spread. Scheelhaase should continue his excellent work at Memorial Stadium, where he’s 54 of 73 for 728 yards, six touchdowns and one interception this season. The defense shouldn’t have any problem with a woebegone Miami (Ohio) offense that still is trying to find its calling card. The two teams have only met twice, with Illinois controlling the series, winning 20-7 in 1932 and 45-0 in 1941. Combine those two scores and Illinois has outscored Miami 65-7, albeit even Loren Tate was a youngster then. Illinois wins in another rout against the RedHawks, pulling away early before enjoying a 45-14 victory. (N-G record: 2-1)