CHAMPAIGN - Vegas knew something.
The Illinois-Purdue line shifted from minus-1.5 in favor of Illinois to a pick 'em early this week. But the line shifted drastically to minus-5 for Illinois on Thursday, likely a reaction to Illini interim coach Bill Cubit calling running back Josh Ferguson "questionable" following Wednesday's practice.
Now, it's official. After missing the last month with an AC sprain in his shoulder, Ferguson -- who is listed as probable on this week's Illini Injury Report -- will likely suit up at Purdue on Saturday.
Ferguson -- fourth on the Illini career all-purpose yard list (3,945) -- is a very welcome addition to an Illini offense that has averaged just 11.5 points per game during Big Ten play, by far the lowest output in the conference.
"I think it would help just from a mental standpoint," Illini quarterback Wes Lunt said. "He's a veteran guy on this team and a lot of people have confidence in him. Having him back from a mental standpoint would give a lot of guys more confidence."
Ferguson (371 rushing yards, 5.4 yards per carry over the first five games) will boost an Illini rushing attack that is averaging just 67.2 yards per game during conference play (40 yards lower than the next worst B1G rushing attack). He'll also relieve pressure on freshman running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who has carried almost the entire running back load during the last four games (258 rushing yards, 3.6 yards per carry).
"It'd certainly be a morale boost for the troops up front," Illini senior guard Ted Karras said on Monday. "He can make you right in anything really, a guy like that. Ke'Shawn has that ability, he's just not as seasoned as Ferg."
Ross-Ade Stadium // West Lafayette, Ind.
Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 // Noon ET / 11 am CT // BTN
6 RB Josh Ferguson – Probable