ILLINOIS: Four Days and Counting

Indiana (3-0) and Illinois (2-1) have both circled this weekend's match-up as a game it needs to win to take a big step toward a bowl berth. HoosierNation.com continues its day-by-day preview of the game with Tuesday's "Four Names to Know" on the Illinois roster...

Troy Pollard, RB/Daniel Dufrene, RB – most Big Ten fans know Illinois starting running back Rashard Mendenhall, a 5-11, 224-pound junior who is coming off a 150-yard, three-touchdown effort against Syracuse and leads the Illini with 322 yards and six touchdowns. But Illinois Coach Ron Zook likes to rotate tailbacks, and the 5'8", 180-pound Pollard will get his share of touches as well. A true freshman, Pollard carried 13 times for 92 yards in Saturday's 41-20 win over Syracuse when he filled in for usual No. 2 tailback, 5‘11", 197-pound junior college transfer Daniel Dufrene (17 carries, 155 yards on year), who was slowed by an ankle injury. Running the ball is nothing new to Illinois, which led the Big Ten in rushing a year ago despite going just 2-10. Mendenhall, Dufrene and Pollard lead an Illinois ground attack that is currently ranked eighth nationally.

Vontae Davis, CB – This 6'0", 205-pounder started last year as a true freshman, earned Freshman All-America honors, and is now considered one of the top covermen in the Big Ten. He'll likely be matched up against IU's James Hardy for much of the afternoon, making him one of the keys to Illinois success (or failure) Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Davis is a big, strong, physical corner who ranks third on the team with 19 tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss while leading the squad with three passes broken up. Davis is also a potential concern on special teams – he blocked a punt in the season opener against Missouri and returned it for a touchdown.

Xavier Fulton, LT - When Fulton's collegiate career first got underway, it was his job to get after opposing quarterbacks as a defensive end. Now, after a knee injury kept the 6-5, 295-pounder on the sidelines for 1 ½ years, it's his job to hold defensive ends at bay. Fulton moved from defensive end to offensive tackle this past spring and is now the Illini's starting left tackle. It's been so far, so good for Fulton, as the Illini have allowed only five sacks in their first three games. Fulton will get his toughest test of the year this week when he lines up IU sophomore Greg Middleton. Middleton has recorded at least one sack in each of IU's first three games and his season-total of five ranks him first in the Big Ten and second nationally.

Arrelious Benn, WR – A high school teammate of one of last year's marquee true freshmen, cornerback Vontae Davis, Arrelious Benn is already off to a big start as well in his debut season. Benn has started each of the first three games and leads the team with 13 receptions for 152 yards. At 6-2 and 215 pounds, the 2006 Parade All-American was Scout.com's 12th-ranked player regardless of position in last year's recruiting class and the second ranked wide receiver. While he's only a freshman, he's a very physical pass catcher who can break tackles and will provide a huge test for IU senior cornerback Tracy Porter. While his pass-catching abilities are what made him such a coveted recruit, Indiana will have to be concerned with Benn in the running game as well. Benn has carried the ball 10 times for 60 yards so the IU defensive coaches can count on Benn running a couple of reverses Saturday.

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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