Next on Deck

A quick primer on Illinois's remaining opponents in terms of how they've done up to this point, who they'll play before taking on the Illini and how the Illini stack up against them.

What do you do during a bye week? Do you look back or look forward?

Saturday's 39-19 drubbing at Nebraska brought Illinois quickly and violently back to earth. Luckily for the Illini and everyone who cares about them, they've had this week to gather themselves and get ready for the gauntlet that is the remainder of Big Ten play.

Here's a quick primer on Illinois's remaining opponents in terms of how they've done up to this point, who they'll play before taking on the Illini and how the Illini stack up against them.

October 19: Wisconsin
Current Record: 3-2, 1-1 Big Ten
Games before Illinois: Northwestern (Saturday)
Short take: The Badgers were off last weekend after a tough loss at Ohio State, and they'll come to Champaign off a matchup with Northwestern. Wisconsin is a hard test for any team because they're efficient on both sides of the ball. Of course, they're the best running team in the Big Ten (over 300 yards on the ground per game), but quarterback Joel Stave gives the Badgers a better passing game than they're used to having. They only give up 14.6 points per game, so it's hard to imagine Illinois besting
Crazy prediction: Loss

October 26: Michigan State
Current Record: 4-1, 1-0
Games before Illinois: Indiana (Saturday), Purdue (Oct. 19)
Short take: The Spartans have the best statistical defense in the conference, allowing just over 200 yards and 13 points per game to opponents. There's a good chance Michigan State will be ranked again when they come to Memorial Stadium. Two things make this a winnable game for Illinois: MSU's lack of firepower (10th on Homecoming weekend. If Illinois can get up early, they may be able to stay up against a less-than- dynamic Spartan offense.
Crazy prediction: Close win

November 2: at Penn State
Current Record: 3-2, 0-1
Games before Illinois: Michigan (Saturday), at Ohio State (Oct. 26)
Short take: Penn State will probably enter its game with Illinois a little battered after games against Michigan and Ohio State. Their offense revolves around a true freshman quarterback, and the Nittany Lions presently have a -3 turnover margin. No matter what people say about the state of PSU's program, a road win in Happy Valley would be huge for the Illini.
Crazy prediction: Win

November 9: at Indiana
Current Record: 3-2, 1-0
Games before Illinois: at Michigan State (Saturday), Michigan (Oct. 19), Minnesota (Nov. 2)
Short take: Indiana's been a pleasant surprise so far this season. The Hoosiers' problem is they're all offense. At this point, Indiana has the worst defense in the Big Ten, and it doesn't get easier going forward. If the Illini can go to Bloomington and make some plays on defense, they should be able to get in the conference in total offense) and the extra incentive for the Illini to win
Crazy prediction: Win

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
November 16: Ohio State
Current Record: 6-0, 2-0
Games before Illinois: Iowa (Saturday), Penn State (Oct. 19), at Purdue (Nov. 2)
Short take: Nope. Not happening. If I'm wrong, I'll figure out some sort of penance. At this point, it's a waste of my time and yours to think of some way Illinois can beat Ohio State outside of every Buckeye scholarship player coming down with a stomach flu on game day.
Crazy prediction: Loss

November 23: at Purdue
Current Record: 1-4, 0-1
Games before Illinois: Ohio State (Oct. 26), Iowa (Nov. 2), at Penn State (Nov. 9)
Short take: Purdue's kind of awful. They can't score (17 points per game) and can't defend (36.6 points given up per game). This is the best chance Illinois has to win a Big Ten game all season. Barring some catastrophic injuries, the Illini should be road favorites in West Lafayette.
Crazy prediction: Win

November 30: Northwestern
Current Record: 4-1, 0-1
Games before Illinois: at Nebraska (Nov. 2), Michigan (Nov. 16), Michigan State (Nov. 23)
Short take: The Wildcats were very close to beating Ohio State last weekend in Evanston, and their game against Michigan in November will probably decide which team goes to the Big Ten Championship. Illinois is a couple years away from really challenging their in-state rivals.
Crazy prediction: Loss

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