Illinois plays Indiana this week. Illinois is nursing a 7 game losing streak. Indiana isn’t that far behind with a 6 game losing streak. Neither team has won a game in the Big 10. For what its worth, Illinois has shown spurts of what this team can be. I watched Indiana play last week against Wisconsin, and boy they looked disappointing. Welcome to the final toilet bowl of the 2017 Big 10 season
Location: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Time: 11 AM CST
TV: BTN, FoxSportsGO
Like Illinois, Indiana uses a 2 quarter back system. Peyton Ramsy and Richard Lagow both combine for 2300 yards, 18 TDs and 10 interceptions. Indiana has a large pass heavy offense that relies on their receivers for big plays as they average 10.18 yards a catch. About 70% of Indiana’s plays are pass plays. Infact the the only team that is worse that Illinois at rushing this year is Indiana, by a whole 5 yards.
This is actually very good for the Illinois defense. Illinois is one of the leaders in takeaways on defense with 16 on the year (9 fumbles and 7 INTs). Indiana comes second to last in turnovers committed, ahead of, you guessed it, Illinois with 17 turn overs on the year. Illinois in fact leads the nation in fumbles forced at 14. Indiana is also last in the league in turnover margin at -10.
So what do these stats mean. Illinois can take the ball away. The Illinois defense starts 8 under classmen with 8 more under classemen on the 2nd string. This teams has seen a lot of action in the 7 game skid. The one thing Illinois does not have to worry about is a dominant run game. Their best running back has less than 500 yards and only 3 TDs. Illinois has shown it can stop the run-heavy Wisconsin to 3.7 yards a carry 2 weeks ago. Indiana does not have a 100 yard rushing game in the last 4 weeks.
Now Illinois on offense is a whole different story. Indiana is terrible at forcing turnovers with only 7 on the season. But Illinois QB’s don’t know what their jersey color is. Illinois has a combined 14 interceptions on offense and comes ahead of only Rutgers in yards par game. Freshman WR Ricky Smalling has shown poise and become some what of a star on Illinois’ struggling offense. Smalling is 5th in the conference with 16.6 yards per catch. Illinois offense has yet to score more than 24 points since the first game against Ball State.
With limited offensive power, Illinois has to take of the ball. I honestly think that if Illinois can control the turnover margin, they have a chance in this game. This falls on the quarterbacks Cam Thomas and Jeff George Jr. to make smart passes and the O-line to give the QB enough time to make throws. On defense, Illinois has to get in Richard Lagow’s face and keep him from getting into rhythm. However, Illinois will need an offensive miracle to win. Indiana 27 – Illinois 13.