Big Ten Rivals Clash in Bloomington: Illinois Fighting Illini at Indiana Hoosiers

#19 Illinois Fighting Illini at Indiana Hoosiers
Memorial Stadium – Bloomington, Indiana
Saturday, October 8, 2011, 2:30 pm Eastern, TV: Big Ten Network
Opening Line:Illinois -17
Current Line: Illinois -14
Opening Total: 54
Current Total: 53 1/2
Opening Money Line: Illinois -600 / Indiana +475
Current Money Line: Illinois -550 / Indiana +450

Indiana hosts Illinois in Big Ten action Saturday. Illinois opened as a 17 point favorite but has been bet down to 14 points.

Both Indiana and Illinois have played a lot of close games. The difference is #19 Illinois is winning those close games and is 5-0, and Indiana is 1-4 with all four losses by 7 points or less. Illinois is coached by Ron Zook, and started off the season with a 5 game home stand. The Illini have wins over Arkansas St 33-15, South Dakota St 56-3, Arizona St 17-14, Western Michigan 23-20, and last week versus arch-rival Northwestern 38-35. It is the first time in school history that Illinois has played 3 games in a row decided by 3 points or less. Indiana, is headed by first year coach Kevin Wilson has a win over South Carolina St 38-21 and 4 losses by a total of 19 points. Indiana lost to Ball St in Indianapolis 27-20, at home versus Virginia 34-31, at North Texas 24-21, and last week at home against Penn St 16-10. This is the 69th meeting between the two schools. Illinois leads the series 44-21-3, including 14-13-1 in Bloomington. The Illini have won 3 of the last 4 in the series including 43-13 last year in Champaign.

At one point in the third quarter, Northwestern was leading Illinois 28-10. The Illini came roaring back and actually took a 31-28 lead with 6:53 left. Northwestern regained the lead with 1:15 left 35-31, but Illinois scored with 13 seconds left to win the game 38-35 on a one yard touchdown run by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Scheelhaase also had 391 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception. He was also the leading rusher for the Illini with 20 carries for 35 yards and the touchdown. A.J. Jenkins had 12 catches for 268 yards  and 3 catches. Illinois had 473 total yards and overcame 8 penalties and 3 turnovers in the win. Northwestern had 329 total yards.

Illinois is averaging 433.6 yards a game including a top 25 rushing attack with 209.8  yards a game. Illinois is scoring 33.4 points a game. Illinois has 9 turnovers and has allowed 14 sacks this season. The Illini are 41/78 on third and fourth conversions, and 21/23 scoring in the red zone, but only have 15 touchdowns. Illinois has been great on defense this year allowing only 295.6 yards and 17.4 points a game, both are ranked in the top 25 nationally. The rush defense is #10 in the country allowing only 79 yards a game. Illinois has forced 17 sacks and 10 turnovers this season. Illini opponents are 30/82 on third and fourth down conversions, and 10/13 scoring in the red zone with 7 touchdowns.

Scheelhaase is 68/98 passing with 1,028 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He also has 76 carries, 259 yards, and 3 rushing touchdowns. Running back Troy Pollard has 28 carries, 269 yards, and a touchdown. Pollard is probable with a knee injury for the Indiana game. Donovonn Young has 35 carries, 241 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 2 catches for 7 yards. Jason Ford has 69 carries, 224 yards, and 4 scores, along with 7 catches for 51 yards.  Receiver A.J. Jenkins has 40 catches, 633 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Darius Millines has 10 catches for 174 yards, and a touchdown. Millines is doubtful with an arm injury after missing the Northwestern game. Evan Wilson only has 5 catches but 2 of them went for touchdowns. Kicker Derek Dimke hasn’t missed a kick in 25 tries, including 7 field goals with a long of 49 yards.

Last week, Indiana was down 16-3 in the fourth quarter against Penn St. The Hoosiers scored a late touchdown to make the final 16-10 and cover the 14 point spread.  The game was sloppy on both sides with 5 turnovers and 11 penalties combined. Penn St had 464 total yards but only managed 16 points, due mainly to 3 turnovers. Indiana had 256 total yards including just 72 rushing yards.

Indiana is averaging 382.8 yards a game, including 256.2 passing yards a game. Indiana is scoring 24 points a game. Indiana has 8 turnovers and has allowed 12 sacks this year. The Hoosiers are 45/88 on third and fourth down conversions, and 11/14 scoring in the red zone with 8 touchdowns. The defense is allowing 402.2 yards and 24.4 points a game. The rush defense is among the worst in the country giving up 190.4 yards a game. Indiana has forced 11 turnovers and 2 sacks this season. Hoosier opponents are 40/84 on third and fourth down conversions, and 16/20 scoring in the red zone with 8 touchdowns.

Hoosier quarterback Edward Wright-Baker is 80/129 passing with 925 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, along with 41 carries for 88 yards. He missed the Penn St game and is questionable for this game with an ankle injury. Back-up Dusty Kiel is 33/63 passing for 356 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. Running back D’Angelo Roberts has 41 carries, 187 yards, and a touchdown, along with 5 catches for 37 yards. Roberts also missed the Penn St game and is questionable with a concussion. Stephen Houston will get most of the carries if Roberts can’t go. Houston has 40 carries, 151 yards, and a touchdown, along with 6 catches for 22 yards. Matt Perez has 45 carries for 136 yards and 4 scores along with 3 catches for 23 yards. Four Hoosier receivers have at least 12 catches this season. DaMarlo Belcher has 20 catches, 250 yards, and 1 touchdown. Kofi Hughes has 14 catches for 212 yards and 2 scores.  Duwyce Wilson has 12 catches, 161 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He missed the Penn St game and is questionable with a back injury. Dre Muhammad has 14 catches for 145 yards. Kicker Mitch Ewald is 15/15 on extra points and 5/7 on on field goals with a long of 49 yards.

Indiana is 3-2 against the spread this season and the total is 2-3. Illinois is 2-3 ATS and the total is 2-3 as well. Illinois is 7-1 ATS in the last 8 following a game that they failed to cover, 8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games, 6-2 in their last 8 October games, 9-4 in their last 13 conference games, 2-5 in the last 7 as a road favorite, and 5-14 against a team with a losing record. Indiana is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 following a straight up loss, 5-1 ATS in the last 6 as a home dog, 5-2 in the last 7 home games, 5-2 as an underdog, and 7-3 in the last 10 versus a team with a winning record.

Indiana is banged up but the Hoosiers have shown a lot of grit. Illinois is much better on offense than Penn St, and the string of close games fro both teams could end this week. Illinois should roll in contest, especially since Indiana has so many key injuries on offense.

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