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The Illinois game.

Illinois Fighting Illini
2008 record
: 3-3 (1-2)
2008 Sagarin: 50 (IU is #90)
2007 record: (lost to USC in Rose Bowl)
2007 Sagarin: 30
Series: Illinois leads 42-20-2
Last IU win: 2006, 34-32 in Champaign
Last Illinois win: 2007, 27-14 in Bloomington

Because of personal circumstances, there could be some outages in the next week or two. I'll do my best to keep up, especially with basketball practice beginning Friday night, but no guarantees.
Football season continues, at least technically. The math for bowl eligibility is fairly daunting. For IU to have any prospect of postseason play, IU must go 4-2 in the second half of the season. Even if IU can beat Central Michigan, beat Northwestern, and find a way to beat Purdue in Joe Tiller's home finale, IU still would need to win either at Illinois, at Penn State, or at home against Wisconsin to get to 6-6. To get to unconditional bowl eligibility at 7-5, IU would need to win two of those games. In other words, we lost our margin of error a couple of losses ago, and will need to somehow completely remake the season to have any hope of anything. Really, 5-7 would at least give us some hope for 2009, but 2-10 isn't out of the question.
Illinois, without Rashard Mendenhall but with plenty of talent returning, doesn't seem to be on par with last year's Big Ten runner-up and Rose Bowl team, but IU historically has stuggled in Champaign. Before IU's 2006 win, the Hoosiers had not won there since 1979. And IU has always been glad to help the Illini when they were struggling. In 1996 and 2004, IU losses in Champaign prevented IU from going 0-8 in the Big Ten.
This is, according to the Big Ten office, a rivalry game. While not quite as contrived as the Land Grant Trophy, IU and Illinois don't have any long history with each other. Frankly, matching Illinois and Purdue and IU and Northwestern might have made more sense--Purdue and Illinois are as geographically close as any Big Ten campuses and IU and Northwestern are in a feverish battle for 10th place in the historical rankings.
Juice Williams has improved dramatically as a passer. Williams is completing 58 percent of his passes and has tied his career high with 13 touchdown passes. He is averaging 279 yards per game, compared to 134 last year. And he remains dangerous as a runner, with 4.4 yards per carry and 4 rushing touchdowns. Williams leads the Illini with 101 rushing attempts, but Daniel Dufresne has been solid, with 79.7 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry. If IU's previous games are any indication, Dufresne will have a huge day against us. The Illini offense ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring offense, total offense, passing yards, and first downs per game (stats can be deceiving--IU still remains highly ranked in some of these categories). It hasn't been as pretty on the defensive side. Illinois ranks dead last in points allowed (IU is #10), 8th in total offense (IU is 7th). Illinois has accumulated its statistics against the #22 schedule, IU against the #65 schedule. The 17-point spread seems about right.
The Hoosier Scoop reports that Kellen Lewis is questionable for Saturday's game with an ankle sprain. A win on Saturday, despite the Illini's struggles, would be a huge upset, unfortunately.