ILLINOIS: Five Days and Counting

Both Indiana (4-2/0-2) and Illinois (3-3/1-2) could significantly enhance their postseason possibilities with a win this weekend. Hoosier Nation begins its day-by-day preview of the match-up with a look at five to numbers to note about the contest...

136.3 – passing yards/game for the Illinois offense, which ranks 114th (out of 120) nationally. That's nearly 25 less passing yards per game than anyone else in the Big Ten, and it's a total that has the Illini on pace for the least proficient Big Ten passing attack since Northwestern averaged only 143.4 passing yards/game in 1999. The Illini have been a run-heavy offense this season, running the ball 265 times compared to only 131 passing attempts. When they have opted to throw it they've been largely unsuccessful, throwing nine interceptions compared to only five touchdowns and averaging 6.2 yards/pass attempt.

46.7 – punting average for Illini punter Anthony Santella, which ranks first in the Big Ten and fourth nationally. Now in his fourth year handling Illinois' punting duties, Santella has gone from a special teams liability to a weapon for Coach Ron Zook. As a freshman Santella ranked last in the Big Ten with a 37.7 average, and then improved to ninth with a 39.1 average as a sophomore in 2008. Last fall he climbed to sixth with a 41.3 average before making a huge jump this fall. Santella had a long punt of 67 yards earlier this fall, and as a team Illinois ranks fifth nationally in net punting with a 41.14 average. Indiana, by way of comparison, ranks 83rd in net punting (34.6) and Chris Hagerup ranks 87th in punting with a 38.2 average.

202.0 – all-purpose yards/game for Indiana's Tandon Doss, which ranks first nationally. The Hoosiers' junior wide receiver had 241 all-purpose yards in Saturday's 36-34 win over Arkansas State, which moved him past Oregon's LaMichael James into the No. 1 spot nationally. Nearly half of Doss' yardage has come on kickoff returns, where he's totaled 500 of his 1010 all-purpose yards and ranks 22nd nationally with a 27.8 yards/return average. But Doss is also averaging 87.6 receiving yards/game, which also ranks 22nd nationally. Doss leads the Big Ten by a wide margin in the category, with Michigan's Denard Robinson ranking second with 156.0 all-purpose yards/game.

3 – straight games the Indiana defense has surrendered at least 30 points. In losses to Michigan and Ohio State coupled with Saturday's win over Arkansas State, the Hoosier defense is yielding an average of 38.0 points and 463.0 yards of total offense per game. The defensive struggles, though, are nothing new. Dating back to the second half of last season, Indiana has now given up at least 30 points to its last six Big Ten foes. The last time IU didn't give up 30 points to a Big Ten opponent was in last season's 29-28 loss at Northwestern. Since the 2007 Insight Bowl season, IU has allowed Big Ten opponents to score 30 or more points in 14 of 18 games.

-6 – Illinois' turnover margin this season. The Fighting Illini enter the Indiana game with 14 giveaways thanks to nine interceptions and five lost fumbles. Defensively, Coach Ron Zook's team has only three interceptions and five fumble recoveries, which has Illinois ranked last in the Big Ten and 108th nationally in turnover margin. Indiana has been much better in the category, with 10 takeaways compared to seven turnovers for a +0.5 margin. Four of IU's turnovers have come in the two losses, leaving only three giveaways in the Hoosiers' four victories to date.

Coming Up
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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