IlliniPlaybook Picks - Version 3.0

Follow along each week as the staff at IlliinPlaybook give picks for the upcoming slate of games.

Each week the IlliniPlaybook staff will provide picks a number Big Ten games, as well as provide insight into other various storylines involving Illinois or from around the nation. Keep in mind, we're picking against the spread, which should make things interesting as we check the scores each Saturday. We'll keep track of the standings and declare a winner in December... Stay tuned...

How we fared last week: Another tough outing from the crew, with all of us below the .500 mark. One os us did do worse than the others (this guy, I admit).

Ryan: 3-4
Taylor: 3-4
Fletcher: 2-5

On the year:

Ryan: 5-7
Taylor: 4-8
Fletcher: 4-8

Also -- We'd like to invite you into the competition. Post your picks from the following list of games HERE on the premium IlliniPlaybook message board. We'll keep track of the standings and award the winner with two free months of premium content!

UPDATE - We'll award the subscriber with the most wins and highest winning percentage -- opening up two chances to win.

How you readers fared last week (and current standings through one week of play):

moesrevenge: 5-2
PaytonHighstep: 4-3
iluvert: 4-3
cgtrojan: 4-3
ParkStree: 3-4
jhwaddell: 3-4
rwn61254: 3-4
chip2: 3-4
frankjp: 3-4
bhots23: 2-5
learningandlabor: 2-5
BigTenPaul: 2-5
CapitalCityOutlaw50: 2-5

Ohio State (-17) versus California

Taylor Rooks
Fletcher Page
Why: "Ohio State didn't look all that impressive last week in it's 31-16 win over Central Florida. With that wake up jolt, I don't see Urban Meyer's squad going through the motions against a below average Cal team this week."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Cal has already given up 31 points twice to their first two opponents, Nevada and Southern Utah. Bad news for Cal is that Ohio State isn't Nevada or Southern Utah. This one could hurt for Cal."

Northwestern (-3.5) versus Boston College

Taylor Rooks
Fletcher Page
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Give Northwestern credit (can't believe I just said that), they held off a feisty Vanderbilt team and proved themselves on their way to a 2-0 start. Boston College, on the other hand, has to be missing Luke Kuechly this year. This one should be Northwestern."

Penn State (-6) versus Navy

Taylor Rooks
Why: "I think it is a winnable game for Penn State, especially considering how bad Navy looked against Notre Dame. But it's too hard to predict what kind of team we will see from PSU on any given weekend. Plus they just lost another player, making it too hard for me to pick them as favorites."
Fletcher Page
Why: "I like Penn State in this one 1) because Navy isn't very good, and 2) because Penn State is slightly not as terrible as Navy.
Ryan Easterling

Michigan State (-6) versus Notre Dame

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Yeah, take that, ACC"
Fletcher Page
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Notre Dame is pretty inexperienced at the quarterback position, and Michigan State has a pretty experienced secondary. If Notre Dame can stop the run, they may have a chance, but I think Michigan State forces a few turnovers and comes away the winner."

Southern Cal (-8) versus Stanford

Taylor Rooks
Fletcher Page
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Nothing is more motivating than payback, especially for USC. Stanford doesn't have Andrew Luck or Coby Fleener anymore and USC still has Matt Barkley, Marquise Lee, and Robert Woods, (and Silas Redd). Linebacker Shayne Skov can't cover the whole field. USC should keep on rolling this week."

Tennessee (-3) versus Florida

Taylor Rooks
Fletcher Page
Why: "Here's a stat the Tennessee faithful have been forced to deal with... the Gators have won seven straight over the Vols. And actually, Tennessee has beaten Florida only six times since 1976. That's a troublesome trend -- but I say, forget about it! The Vols have too much on offense to be stopped at home, especially by one of the more average looking Florida teams to start a season in the past two decades."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "I'm going to go with Tennessee on this one, but only because it's in Knoxville and not at The Swamp. Tyler Bray is really stepping up this year, and the Tennessee receivers are getting the job done even in the absence of Da'Rick Rodgers."

Illinois (no spread) versus Charleston Southern

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Illinois will win by at least 35 , I'm thinking something like 7 - 56.
Fletcher Page
Why: "No injuries and a consistent, confidence building look from the offense. That should be the goal this weekend as the Illini should routine CSU, 42-10.
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Illinois needs a bit of a "healing" win this weekend, and they should get it against Charleston Southern. I think the number of points scored could depend on who's at quarterback, but the Illinois defense should get some confidence back and I'm thinking this one is 38-7."

This and That

What surprised you most from the loss to Arizona State last weekend?

Taylor: "I didn't think the Illinois defense was going to crumble in the way that it did.They had no energy, and ASU was too up-tempo for them to keep up. It was so surprising, because there was literally no communication. Coming from a team that seems so bonded and possesses chemistry, it came as a shock that they just crumbled. In my opinion, the offense did the best it could. Despite the extremely shaky quarterback situation, Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young ran the ball extremely well, and the wideouts caught some tough passes."

Fletcher: "The ice cream buffet bar caught me off guard at halftime. Very happy with all the choices made available. Other than than, it didn't surprise me to see the ASU offense put up points. But I didn't forecast the Illinois defense to give up gashing amounts of yardage and to have no answer or adjustments as the game wore on."

Ryan: "I guess what surprised me the most was how Arizona State's offense was so successful at doing what the Illinois offense is predicated upon. They got the ball to their guys in space and kept the tempo hot the whole time. After facing that offense every day in practice, you would think the shock factor to seeing it in a game would be minimal."

Which injury situation is more detrimental to the team... Darius Millines ankle or Terry Hawthorne's nagging injury (believed to be ankle/foot related, but not confirmed)?

Taylor: "Darius Millines injury is more detrimental .... the wide out position has little depth, so Illinois needs as many good hands and quick feet that it can get. Darius is a playmaker, and judging from the ASU loss, that's what Illinois really needs."

Fletcher: "Millines hurts the most right now (because it doesn't appear he'll play), but his absence may be a blessing in disguise for players like Justin Hardee and Kenny Knight. Both injuries are troublesome because both players have been injury-prone in the past. I'll take Hawthorne as my answer, because I want to see what he can do when full go. There isn't much depth at corner either, but to me, missing out on the chance to see what TH can do when at full speed would be a shame."

Ryan: "I don't think it's even close. Illinois has some depth at the cornerback position, but without Millines at wide receiver, you're really sacrificing a lot when you bring in the next guy. At least on the defense you have some corners who can step in and play with some confidence."

Supposing Illinois will win handily this weekend, what does the team need to do/how does the team need to perform to prove last weekend is firmly in the rearview mirror?

Taylor: "The team needs to make something happen every time the quarterback has the ball, for the sake of confidence (both for the team and the fans)."

Fletcher: "No injuries and rhythm and flow. That should be the motto. The team needs to avoid further attrition (something that can't be controlled) while the offense works to become more consistent. I know the defense looked bad last week, but I see that unit has being better off long term. The ASU game was a perfect storm of substandard on that side of ball. I expect great improvement there this week."

Ryan: "Illinois needs to win and win big. I'm not a big fan of running up the score, but you play your game until they stop you. They need something that's going to get their confidence up going into next weekend, and playing timid won't get that done. Play fast, play mean, and play all 60 minutes tough.

Well, there you have it -- IlliniPlaybook Picks Version 3.0. Check back next week for the results and next installment. And don't forget to make your picks on the message board.

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