Indiana football fans could be witness to something they haven't seen in four years – a blowout Big Ten win in Bloomington.
Hoosier faithful have sat through their share of blowouts in recent years, but they've been on the wrong end of the result. But when the Hoosiers and Fighting Illini tee it up tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium, Indiana should come away with its first double-digit Big Ten victory since Nov. 3, 2001. It was on that afternoon that Antwaan Randle El accounted for 321 total yards and the Hoosiers scored 42 first-half points on their way to a 56-21 rout of Northwestern.
I'm not predicting a 42-point, first-half outburst, but this contest has the makings of a lopsided Indiana win.
Offensively, Indiana's Blake Powers believes he has something to prove. Powers still remembers his first real introduction to college football last year in Champaign, when he was pressed into duty after a Matt LoVecchio injury. It was an afternoon to forget as Powers was 4-of-11 for 41 yards with a pair of interceptions as Illinois overcame a 19-0 deficit and won, 26-22.
But this has been a different Blake Powers in 2005, as he's thrown 14 touchdowns in four games, ranking him third nationally in touchdown throws. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal – led by James Hardy – whom Illinois will be hard pressed to match-up with. Compounding the Illini's problems is the complete lack of a pass rush, which should give Powers plenty of time to abuse the Illini secondary downfield. The Hoosier ground game, meanwhile, should also be plenty productive, as Illinois is surrendering an NCAA-worst 6.7 yards/carry and 232.2 yards/game.
Defensively, the Hoosiers are determined to show that the pass defense isn't as woeful as it was a week ago against the Badgers. It's unlikely that Indiana won't be forced into man coverage as much as it was against Wisconsin, which should bode well for a much better afternoon for Leslie Majors and Tracy Porter. Illinois also doesn't have a legitimate deep threat, which will also make the task at hand much easier for the Hoosiers' sophomore corners.
This could also prove to be a big weekend for defensive ends Victor Adeyanju and Ben Ishola, who will be going up against a pair of offensive tackles who have been anything but stout this season – Illinois has surrendered a league-worst 14 sacks.
Vegas oddsmakers have the Hoosiers as a five-point favorite, but everything points to a much more convincing Indiana win. The Hoosiers appear confident after a 3-1 start, while Illinois is loaded with self-doubt after getting walloped by Michigan State and Iowa in the last two weeks. Indiana has legitimate bowl aspirations, Illinois doesn't. Indiana is a veteran squad (it starts nine seniors) while Illinois starts the nation's youngest squad (3 freshmen, 9 sophomores).
I'm expecting the sort of win that hasn't happened too often in Bloomington…
HoosierNation.com Prediction: Indiana 41, Illinois 10
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Key Matchups
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
On Saturday – Hoosier Gameday
One Day and Counting...
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