At this point in the season it's sad to say the Illinois football team just need a win and badly.
The Illini face their first ranked opponent today with plenty to prove on ESPN. This has been one of the tougher weeks for head coach Ron Turner. Fans calling during his weekly call-in show pointing out their frustrations, suggestions and wanting to know how he could get this sinking ship pointed in the right direction.
Today will be a tough task, playing on the road against a tough Boilermaker defense; they are holding opponents to 293 yards a game. The only game the Boilers lost this season was to Bowling Green 27-26, in that game the defense gave up 407 yards of total offense. Should be an interesting day, the Illini lead the Big Ten is passing with 268.8 yards a game, but rank last in rushing with 115.6 yards a game.
I don't know what else can be said of freshman E.B. Halsey, who leads the conference in all-purpose yards with 186.6 yards a game. Maybe consider cloning the kid.
Since taking over the program at Purdue, Coach Joe Tiller has led the Boilermakers to five winning seasons, and six-bowl births with a combined record of 49-29. Right now Tiller's group has outscored their opponents 98-27 since their first game of the season.
Fact is the numbers will not make a difference today the players will, the Illini need to come out and play "smash mouth" football. Take the crowd out of the game early, get to the red zone and score seven points, which is easier said then done, they rank ninth in the league in the red zone.
Coming back to Champaign Saturday night with a loss will make for another tough week for Turner and his boys.
My final prediction: Illinois 27 Purdue, 21.