Last week, we all underestimated Michigan’s offense and overestimated Purdue’s. Everyone expected Michigan to win, but not many people anywhere thought the Wolverines would shut down Purdue’s offense the way it did. Offensively, Michigan was unstoppable, except when it fumbled at the end of the first half leading the Purdue’s only touchdown. That opening drive when Michigan went 17 plays and just ran the ball down Purdue’s throat was beautiful to watch wasn’t it? Well this week should be similar, so let’s take a look at our picks.
|M&GB PREDICTION SUMMARY
Justin: Michigan 48 – Illinois 10
Chris: Michigan 40 - Illinois 16
Josh: Michigan 45 – Illinois 9
Sam: Michigan 43 – Illinois 10
Katie: Michigan 41 – Illinois 10
Matt: Michigan 31 – Illinois 9
Average: Michigan 41 – Illinois 11
Justin: Unbeaten in conference play. The two main challengers, Michigan State and Nebraska each have a loss. They also happen to be Michigan’s next two opponents. Beat them both and Michigan is in the drivers’ seat for the Legends division. That means Michigan will be looking ahead to next week, right? Doubtful.
Brady Hoke has been excellent at tempering expectations and keeping the team focused on one week at a time. He will run right at Illinois just like he did Purdue and throw the ball just enough to keep the defense honest. Michigan wins big. For more, check out this week’s Friend vs Foe and this morning’s game preview.
Michigan 48 – Illinois 10
Chris (1): Illinois enters this game with a 2-4 record, with their only FBS win coming against Western Michigan. They have looked poor on both sides of the ball, giving up an average of over 28 points per game while only scoring around 20 points per game. Coming into the season, hopes in Champaign were high for another bowl trip, as they returned 14 starters and a dual-threat quarterback in Nathan Scheelhaase. However, injuries on the offensive line have limited the offense’s effectiveness and the defense has yet to show up for a game.
Am I worried that Michigan will lose this game on Saturday? No. But this game does happen at an interesting time on the schedule. With MSU coming up next weekend and Nebraska after that, the potential is there for a “look ahead” game. The Wolverines need to avoid letting that happen. If they sit back and think they are just going to roll Illinois without much of an effort, they may find themselves on the losing end. Scheelhaase can frustrate defenses with his running and his ability to create plays when the blocking breaks down.
The line for this game is currently sitting at 25 points. I think that’s about right. Denard Robinson will have a similar game this week as he did last week against Purdue and the Michigan defense will put a hurting on the Illinois offense. If anyone knows how to get the players to contain Scheelhaase, it’s defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Michigan wins.
Michigan 40 – Illinois 16
Tim Beckman is already feeling the heat in Champaign (photo by Seth Perlman, AP)
Josh (1): Illinois is not a very good team, to put it lightly. Their one “big” win came against FCS opponent Charleston Southern. They beat Western Michigan in their opener but have not played well against anyone of significance. They’ve been blown out in all four of their losses: Arizona State, Louisiana Tech, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Their leading rusher has 227 yards on the season. Denard had more than that last week. Nathan Scheelhaase is a decent quarterback but so far he has more picks (five) than touchdowns (three). In their four losses the defense has given up an average of 431 yards, while the offense has turned the ball over an average of 3.5 times per game. During those losses they’ve been outscored by 30 points per game.
This team gives up a ton of points and yards on defense and turns the ball over like it’s their job on offense.
Since the Air Force game Michigan’s defense has not given up more than 13 points to anyone. They may not be creating as many turnovers as Greg Mattison would like but they’ve been improving each week. Raymon Taylor made the most of his bump to starting cornerback last week and I expect him to improve as the season progresses.
Al Borges went back to Denard’s strengths last week and it yielded huge dividends. I expect much of the same against a porous Iliini defense.
This one shouldn’t be close and will be another good confidence booster heading into Michigan State week. I’d be shocked if Russell Bellomy and Thomas Rawls didn’t see a lot of action late in the game – maybe sooner for Rawls if Toussaint continues to prove ineffective. Michigan made Kirk Herbstreit eats his words of doubt last week against Purdue, and this week they’ll make him look good for jumping back on the Michigan bandwagon.
Michigan 45 – Illinois 9
Matt (2): It’s easy to think that Michigan will be able to defeat Illinois handily. Illinois has had a very off year, currently sitting with a record of 2-4. Michigan however…well, hasn’t been too bad. After a tough loss to Alabama and a loss also to Notre Dame, Michigan is 3-2.
Fitz Toussaint had a big game against Illinois last season (photo by the Ann Arbor News)
Michigan has been lacking in quite a few areas this year in some games, and in others, they look outstanding. The play against Purdue last Saturday was amazing. Turnovers, touchdowns; it was outstanding.
I hate to sound like a pessimist, because that’s one thing I’m definitely not, but Michigan hasn’t had the kind of year we all were hoping for. But two losses isn’t the end of the year. Honestly, we can still win the Big Ten. Anyway, I’m getting off topic.
Many people chose Purdue as kind of the black horse of the Big Ten. Some analysts were saying they could quite possibly win the Big Ten. And if I’m not mistaken, the Big Ten Network seemed to be pretty impressed with Purdue before the season started. So…either Purdue isn’t as good as everyone thought, or Michigan is better than everyone is thinking.
Michigan versus Illinois usually seems to turn out to be a good game. I remember quite a few times watching this game end up being high scoring and very exciting. However, I do not believe that this year we will see a high scoring, or very exciting game.
I see Michigan coming out on fire. They are coming off of an impressive win over Purdue. The momentum should carry the Wolverines into this game ready to take the Illini down, and that’s just what they’ll do. I think that Michigan’s defense will continue to be dominant, and the offense will be able to put up some long drives and put points up on the board.
Dominant performance tomorrow! Go Blue!
Michigan 31 – Illinois 9
Sam (1): In last week’s Big Ten opener, Michigan did exactly what it had to to keep its Big Ten championship hopes alive and well in a 44-13 bashing of the Purdue Boilermakers. This week, expect much of the same. With one game before Michigan State takes the short trip to Ann Arbor to try to keep their winning streak against their arch rivals going, Michigan will likely run, run, and run some more. Al Borges and Brady Hoke want a win this weekend, and only a win. They don’t need to be flashy, they don’t need to run the score up, they just need to start the Big Ten season 2-0 and get ready for the Spartans.
Obviously Brady Hoke will tell you that Illinois is the only thing on Michigan’s mind right now, as it should be, but I’m pretty sure that the Wolverines have one eye on the schedule. Denard Robinson and the rest of his backfield mates carried the ball a whopping 54 times for 304 yards and three touchdowns last week in West Lafayette, and seeing as the Fighting Illini have given up 465 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground in the last three weeks (all 20-plus point losses), look for more of the same.
Linebacker Jonathan Brown is the team's second leading tackler (photo from FightingIllini.com)
Michigan also forced four turnovers one week ago; if that happens again, this game will be over at halftime. Illinois is led by dual-threat quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who has completed 62.5 percent of his passes on the season so far but has thrown only three touchdowns to his five picks and has only run for 95 yards. His favorite target will be Ryan Lankford, who with 362 yards receiving has more than double that of the next guy down, but a number of other receivers could see the ball as well, as five receivers have caught double digit balls, including three with 20 or more.
Defense is obviously a huge problem for Illinois and will likely be their downfall again this weekend. They have given up 28.3 points per game in the middle of a not-so-powerful schedule that includes Western Michigan, Arizona State, Charleston Southern, Louisiana Tech, and Penn State. Illinois hasn’t held an opponent under 30 since week one, when they beat Western 24-7, and they have given up more than 40 points three times in those five weeks since.
Meanwhile, Greg Mattison has his Michigan defense returning to 2011 form, a bad sign for the teams remaining on the Wolverines’ schedule. The Maize and Blue have given up only 13 points in three straight weeks, and haven’t given up more than 25 since being trounced by Alabama to start the year. Jake Ryan has emerged as a force rushing the passer and stifling outside run plays and the secondary has done its part in limiting the big play. It’s been an all around solid if not outstanding defense; I doubt the orange and blue will do anything to prove this sentiment otherwise.
There’s no sense in going into extreme detail for a game like this, so I’ll cut any extra details. Watch for Michigan to really try to get Fitgerald Toussaint going after yet another disappointing week running the ball and watch for at least one play-action pass to go for a 50-plus yard touchdown from Denard to Jeremy Gallon. In the end, this game should be in the bag by the time the fourth quarter rolls around. I’ll take Michigan to make it two in a row.
Michigan 43 – Illinois 10
Katie: Last week went well, as Michigan scored over forty points in a game for the second time this season. But Purdue also didn’t fair well against the Wolverine defense, and since the Boilermakers are the better of the two teams Michigan was pitted against in weeks five and six Michigan should be able to roll this weekend. Illinois is 2-4 coming into this Saturday’s game, Michigan is the first ranked team they have faced thus far. Their only two wins came against Western Michigan and a Charleston Southern team that’s having an equally hard time winning. That being said the Wolverines offense should be able to put up some great numbers.
The Fighting Illini have been outscored by their opponents 170- 127, while Michigan has raked up fifty more points than the teams they have faced. The total offense stat is pretty level, however the caliber of teams that the Wolverines has faced gives them the edge. Some people are even hoping that Notre Dame will make it into the National Championship game, which means our two losses have come to high quality teams. As for the running game the Illini backs could put up some numbers, though nothing like the yardage that Denard should scamper for, he already has 730 yards on the season. Not shockingly Illinois wins the receiving stats and the pass percentage, however, if those don’t turn into points then the Blue and Orange will be in deep trouble.
On defense Ashante Williams and Jonathan Brown could pose some problems for Michigan’s O-line, and possibly keep Robinson in check by forcing him to throw. If Illinois has any chance to stay in this game their defense will have to step up more than they have in the past six games. But with an offense that if firing on all cylinders can amass big numbers, I think that the Fighting Illini are going to have all that they can handle, and a bit more this Saturday.
Michigan still has its eye on the Big Ten Championship which means that this should be a full force effort, especially when the next home game is a fierce in state rival. I think Michigan takes charge early with methodical drives, and eats up the clock. This game is about proving our skills to those in East Lansing. We’ve broken the streak with the Buckeyes, it’s time to show Sparty that we’re back in business too.
Michigan 41 – Illinois 10