6.7 - Perhaps the most disturbing number if you're an Illini fan is 6.7, as in 6.7 yards/carry for the Illini opponents. How bad is that? Texas is the nation's No. 1 rushing attack (310 yards/game), and the Longhorns only average 6.6 yards/carry. USC is the only team in the country that has an average that eclipses Illinois' futility, as Reggie Bush and Co. average 7.1 yards/carry (USC ranks third nationally in rushing). Illinois is surrendering a Big Ten-worst 232.2 yards rushing/game. How bad has the Illinois rush defense been? A year ago, Iowa ranked last in the Big Ten in rushing offense, going for less than 80 yards/game. In the Hawkeyes' Big Ten opener, Ohio State limited the Hawkeyes to -9 yards of rushing offense. But in the Hawkeyes' 35-7 victory over Ron Zook's Illini, they ran for a season-high 301.
19-21 – Illinois' proficiency in the red zone this season. Entering last week's contest at Iowa, the Illini were 18-for-18 in putting points on the board when it moved inside the 20, but a 1-for-3 effort put an end to that. Illini kicker Jason Reda, who had been 8-of-9 on field goals entering the Iowa game, had a pair of field goals blocked by the Hawkeyes and missed another 21-yarder in Iowa City. Still, the Illini's 90.5 percent success rate ranks second in the Big Ten (to Iowa's 94.1%), compared to Indiana's 66.7% success rate, which ranks last in the conference.
4 – Number of sacks recorded by the Illini defense in its first five games, which ranks last in the Big Ten. Indiana, meanwhile, has recorded seven in its first four games. Most of the pressure comes from the interior of the d-line, as defensive tackles Chris Norwell and Ryan Matha each have 1 ½ sacks. The Illini defensive ends, meanwhile, have combined for just ½ sacks this season.
12 – Number of freshmen (3) and sophomores (9) Illinois has in its starting lineup, making Coach Ron Zook's starters the youngest in college football (tied with Cincinnati). Illinois starts only four seniors. Compare that to Indiana, which had six underclassmen starting against Wisconsin – 2 freshmen (James Hardy, Marcus Thigpen) and four sophomores (Blake Powers, Charlie Emerson, Leslie Majors, Tracy Porter). Indiana started 10 seniors Saturday – Chris Taylor, Isaac Sowells, Adam Hines, Brandon Hatcher, Victor Adeyanju, Russ Richardson, Ben Ishola, Josh Moore, John Pannozzo and Kyle Killion).
2 – Mallorys on the Illinois coaching staff. Former IU assistant coach Curt Mallory oversees the Illini secondary, while Mike Mallory is the Illini's defensive coordinator and also coaches the linebackers. Curt left Indiana after the 2004 season and joined Zook, who had recruited Curt while he was a player at Bloomington (Ind.) South High School. Mike, meanwhile, is in his fifth season with the Illini and is a holdover from the Ron Turner staff that was let go after the 2004 campaign. Former IU Coach Bill Mallory's third son, Doug, is in his first year as an assistant coach at LSU. Mallory was on Les Miles' Oklahoma State staff and joined Miles in making the to LSU after Nick Saban departed to take the Miami Dolphin head coaching job.
What's coming up:
On Tuesday - Four Key Matchups
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do to Win
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
Five Days and Counting...
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