One Day and Counting...

With six more games on the schedule this isn't Indiana's last chance to get a win in 2006, but there's little question that Saturday's 12 p.m. match-up with Illinois (2-3/1-1) provides the Hoosiers with their best chance to add to this season's win column.

With six more games on the schedule this isn't Indiana's last chance to get a win in 2006, but there's little question that Saturday's 12 p.m. match-up with Illinois (2-3/1-1) provides the Hoosiers with their best chance to add to this season's win column.

After all, Indiana did handle the Illini with ease a season ago, winning 36-13 in Bloomington. Hoosier tailback Chris Taylor ran for 132 yards on 18 carries in that contest as Indiana picked up its most lopsided conference win since beating Northwestern 56-21 in 2001.

But this year's match-up is at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, a venue IU hasn't won at in 27 years. Remarkably, IU's 10-game losing streak at Illinois is the school's second-longest conference road losing skid, trailing only its 15-game, 37-year run of losses at Michigan Stadium.

Indiana also heads into this contest with little confidence in the wake of its three-game losing streak. After starting the season 2-0 Indiana has dropped three in a row at home, with the most recent being a 52-17 drubbing at the hands of Wisconsin in the conference opener.

Illinois, meanwhile, bounced back from a 1-3 start with a huge win last weekend. Paced by 122 yards passing and 101 yards rushing from true freshman quarterback Isiah "Juice" Williams, Illinois knocked off Michigan State 23-20 on a last-second Jason Reda field goal. Coach Ron Zook's team will try to build on that win with a victory over Indiana this weekend in the Illini's Homecoming contest.

IU Coach Terry Hoeppner said the addition of Williams is the biggest change for the Illini from a season ago.

"The biggest difference is the quarterback," Hoeppner said. "He is throwing the ball well, and by design, they are running him well in the spread offense. He is 220 pounds, and he is a powerful runner. I think they are playing a similar structure on defense as they were last year, but they are playing better. Michigan State is a good football team. They are playing with a big confidence boost."

Indiana, meanwhile, is lacking in that area after its recent results. Hoeppner is hoping his team can find a way to bounce back with a good effort Saturday.

"I hope that we are not that fragile in that one play knocks us off kilter," Hoeppner said. "It's our job as coaches to get the team ready. I know there is no answer or an exact science to win games, but they need to be as prepared as they can be. We are trying to gain support, build a fan base and win games."

Can Indiana win this weekend? It's possible, but appears improbable. Indiana will need a big game from redshirt freshman quarterback Kellen Lewis to get it done, and a much better effort from the IU defense that was shredded a week ago by Wisconsin.

HoosierNation.com Prediction: Illinois 30, Indiana 14.



What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do to Win
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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