Weekly staff picks: Western Illinois, Sept. 8, 2018

Weekly staff picks: Western Illinois, Sept. 8, 2018

The News-Gazette sports staff will take a crack at predicting the winner of the Illinois game each week. Don't agree with them? Let them know by email at sports@news-gazette.com:

Bob Asmussen | Football beat writer

For the second consecutive week, 60-year-old Lovie Smith faces a 32-year-old head coach. Jared Elliott just missed a win in his opener and will have Western ready. But Illinois has too much of a roster advantage for Western to pull the upset. The expected rain helps the underdogs keep it closer.

Illinois 24, Western Illinois 7


Scott Richey | Football beat writer

Illinois has actually never allowed a point in its two previous games with Western Illinois earlier this century. While the Illini are the clear favorites against an FCS opponent, the way their defense played in Week 1 against Kent State portends to finally giving up some points to the Leathernecks.

Illinois 42, Western Illinois 24


Matt Daniels | Sports editor

No matter the type of season Illinois has each year, one constant remains: The Illini don't lose to FCS opponents. Illinois should move to 2-0 ahead of South Florida, the most intriguing nonconference game for the Illini. And not just because Lovie Smith gets to coach again at Soldier Field.

Illinois 28, Western Illinois 10


Colin Likas | Prep sports coordinator

It's hard to know what to expect from the Illinois offense after last week's Jekyll and Hyde performance versus Kent State in the season opener. Rod Smith's crew will do enough to top the Leathernecks, but will it be enough to impress heading into Week 3's much tougher tilt, against South Florida?

Illinois 27, Western Illinois 13


Joe Vozzelli | Sports copy editor

Which Illinois team shows up tonight? The one that looked unstoppable in the second half against Kent State or the one that was booed off the field at halftime? The impending rain makes the final score closer than expected but Illinois still beats the Leathernecks by three touchdowns.

Illinois 28, Western Illinois 6


Jordan J. Wilson | Sports copy editor

It took way more than it should have for Illinois to put Kent State to rest, but maybe the second-half awakening on offense will translate to the rest of the season nicely. Western Illinois should be good trial run before the opponents get tougher (i.e. the games fans really want to see the Illini competing in again).

Illinois 30, Western Illinois 13


Mike Colgan | Sports staffer

Illinois should subdue the Leathernecks, who showed a balanced offense and some good punting in a tough road loss at Montana State during their season opener. Adam Fellner, Western Illinois' punter, should get many opportunities to pad his stats in this one as the Illini stay unbeaten early on in the season.

Illinois 35, Western Illinois 13