HQ prediction: UI 41, Purdue 32
Illinois at Purdue
Matt Daniels breaks down the rosters — and picks a winner
2 Nathan Scheelhaase 6-3 205 Sr. Kansas City, Mo.
5 Danny Etling 6-2 218 Fr. Terre Haute, Ind.
Edge: Illinois. Since Etling assumed the reins from starter Rob Henry, who’s now a backup safety, more than a month ago against Nebraska, he hasn’t wowed the crowd. He has more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five) and is completing 51 percent of his passes. Scheelhaase is 292 yards from 3,000 for the season.
6 Josh Ferguson 5-10 195 Soph. Naperville
1 Akeem Hunt 5-9 184 Jr. Covington, Ga.
Edge: Illinois. Ferguson is close to having 500-plus yards in rushing (554) and receiving (498). Even with backup Donovonn Young’s struggles this year, his 352 rushing yards are 5 more than Hunt, who leads the Boilermakers in that category. Hunt is like Ferguson as he has 343 receiving yards, but Illinois has 14 more rushing TDs than Purdue.
9 Steve Hull 6-2 200 Sr. Cincinnati
8 Miles Osei 6-0 195 Sr. Mount Prospect
80 Spencer Harris 6-3 205 Sr. Greenwood, Ark.
80 DeAngelo Yancey 6-2 200 Fr. Atlanta
6 Gary Bush 6-0 179 Sr. Miami
Edge: Illinois. Yancey can stretch the field for Purdue as he’s averaging 20 yards per catch. The emergence of Hull (669 yards on 35 catches, four TDs) is a pleasant sight. Harris and Osei are options that Scheelhaase can go to in a pinch, while Justin Hardee had his most productive game of the season against Ohio State.
3 Jon Davis 6-3 240 Jr. Louisville, Ky.
84 Justin Sinz 6-4 248 Jr. Edgar, Wis.
Edge: Illinois. Sinz leads Purdue in receiving touchdowns with three. Which isn’t much. He has the second-most catches on the team (28), but the combination of Davis, Matt LaCosse and Evan Wilson is too much for the Boilermakers’ linebackers and secondary.
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.
64 Kevin Pamphile 6-5 315 Sr. Miami
72 Jason King 6-3 300 Fr. Little Rock, Ark.
57 Robert Kugler 6-3 284 Soph. Pittsburgh
70 Jordan Roos 6-5 320 Fr. Celina, Texas
51 Justin Kitchens 6-4 290 Sr. Warner Robins, Ga.
Edge: Illinois. A.J. Ricker’s unit will need to cut down on the number of sacks it allowed against Ohio State. But the line this year has allowed Illinois to move the ball consistently. Purdue, meanwhile, has given up 34 sacks, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten and 115th in the country. Not good at all.
59 Tim Kynard 6-3 270 Sr. Toledo, Ohio
93 Teko Powell 6-3 295 Soph. Miami
44 Austin Teitsma 6-2 290 Jr. Glen Ellyn
55 Houston Bates 6-3 250 Jr. Covington, La.
90 Bruce Gaston 6-2 310 Sr. Chicago
61 Ryan Isaac 6-4 292 Sr. Michigan City, Ind.
91 Greg Latta 6-5 260 Sr. La Quinta, Calif.
99 Ryan Russell 6-5 270 Jr. Carrollton, Texas
Edge: Even. Gaston, a former Chicago St. Rita product and 2009 News-Gazette first-team pick, has a team-high three sacks for the Boilermakers, but he isn’t exactly the disruptive pass force Purdue has consistently churned out in the past. Bates and Kynard each have 2.5 sacks this season, while Powell continues to show improvement each week.
45 Jonathan Brown 6-1 230 Sr. Memphis, Tenn.
43 Mason Monheim 6-1 235 Soph. Orrville, Ohio
34 Mike Svetina 6-2 230 Soph. Brunswick, Ohio
39 Joe Gilliam 6-1 225 Jr. Indianapolis
10 Sean Robinson 6-3 240 Jr. Springfield
Edge: Illinois. Brown only needs six more tackles to reach 100 for the second time and eight more to reach 300 for his career. His 94 tackles this season lead the Big Ten. Robinson, Purdue’s middle linebacker, started his career with the Boilermakers as a quarterback after having an excellent prep career at Rochester.
2 V’Angelo Bentley 5-10 190 Soph. Cleveland
9 Earnest Thomas 6-2 210 Jr. Orchard Lake, Mich.
21 Zane Petty 6-1 190 Jr. Corning, Calif.
27 Eaton Spence 6-0 185 Soph. Belle Glade, Fla.
21 Ricardo Allen 5-9 186 Sr. Daytona Beach, Fla.
9 Anthony Brown 5-11 201 Soph. Tampa, Fla.
4 Taylor Richards 5-10 192 Jr. Lake Mary, Fla.
24 Frankie Williams 5-9 195 Soph. Tampa, Fla.
26 Antoine Lewis 5-10 185 Jr. Chicago
Edge: Purdue. Allen is the player Scheelhaase will want to avoid Saturday. The leader of Purdue’s defense has a team-high three interceptions — or one more than the entire Illinois defense. Allen is also capable of coming downfield and helping with run support, much like Thomas and Petty have needed to do for Illinois.
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
37 Paul Griggs (K) 6-1 200 Soph. Charlotte, N.C.
30 Thomas Meadows (KO 6-0 182 Soph. Maidens, Va.
42 Cody Webster (P, Holder) 6-1 205 Sr. Harrisburg, Pa.
50 Jesse Schmitt (LS) 6-2 250 Jr. Louisville, Ky.
1 Akeem Hunt KR) 5-9 184 Jr. Covington, Ga.
8 Raheem Mostert (KR) 5-11 186 Jr. New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
24 Frankie Williams (PR) 5-9 185 Soph. Tampa, Fla.
Edge: Illinois. Webster is the Big Ten’s best punter. Griggs is one of the Big Ten’s worst field goal kickers. So that cancels each other out. Bentley will look for his third return touchdown of the year, and Russell is always a threat to throw on a fake two-point conversion or fake field goal.
Tim Beckman At UI (5-17) Overall (26-33)
Darrell Hazell At Purdue (1-9) Overall (17-19)
Edge: Illinois. Beckman doesn’t want to set a precedent for Big Ten coaches at the start of their tenure. If he loses Saturday, he becomes the first Big Ten coach to lose his first 15 league games. Don’t think that will happen, and who knows when Hazell might win his first Big Ten game.
Prediction: Illinois 41, Purdue 32
The Big Ten losing streak ends. Really, it does. Pinky swear. The Boilermakers haven’t topped 30 points once this season. They’ll do so against the worst defense they’ve faced, but Illinois will have more than enough offense to compensate.
N-G record: 8-2