ILLINOIS: Five Days and Counting

It's been a very disappointing start to the season for both Indiana (2-4/0-3) and Illinois (3-3/1-2), and the two will meet Saturday in Champaign to try to turn their seasons around. kicks off its day-by-day preview of this weekend's match-up with "Five Numbers to Note" about the contest…

75.0 – percent of Illinois' offense comes courtesy quarterback Juice Williams. The Fighting Illini junior quarterback is averaging 353.7 yards/game, including 279.5 per outing through the air and 74.2 per game on the ground. Williams has helped the Illini passing attack go from 11th in the conference a year ago (168.2) to first this season (281.2). He's put up even bigger numbers during the last two weeks, with 431 total yards in a 38-24 win over Michigan followed by 503 yards of offense in last week's 27-20 upset loss to Minnesota. That's an even higher percentage than IU quarterback Kellen Lewis put up a year ago, when he accounted for 73.9 percent of IU's offense (290.7 out of IU's 393.8 yards/game).

29.2 – points per game surrendered by the Illinois defense, ranking Coach Ron Zook's team last in the Big Ten. They have given up at least 20 points in five of six games, which could be good news for an Indiana offense that has slipped to ninth in the Big Ten in scoring after its combined 16 points in losses to Minnesota and Iowa the last two weekends. Opposing teams are running for 152.5 yards/game and throwing for 208.7 yards per contest against an Illini defense that is led in part by former Indiana assistant coach Curt Mallory, who is the co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach.

69 – penalties committed by Indiana (35) and Illinois (34) thus far this season, making them the two most penalized teams in the conference thus far. Despite not being flagged once against Murray State, Indiana is still averaging a league-worst 57.2 yards/game in penalties, while Illinois is a close second with 56.2 yards/game. IU has most commonly been flagged for personal fouls (6), offensive holding (6) and false starts (6), while it has also been called for offsides five times as well. It's a category that the Hoosiers didn't fare well in last season, either – they ranked 11th in penalty yards with 54.5 per game.

5 – unconventional touchdowns scored by Illinois' opponents this season, or nearly one per game. Thus far, Illinois has given up a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns; two fumble returns for touchdowns; and one interception return for a score. Indiana has that happen only once this season, coming on the 40-yard interception return for a score by Ball State safety Sean Baker. Illinois got things off on the wrong foot in its week one loss to Missouri when the Tigers returned a kickoff and an interception for a score, and since then Eastern Illinois (fumble recovery), Penn State (kickoff return) and Minnesota (fumble recovery) have also scored in unconventional ways.

12.5 – tackles for loss for Illini middle linebacker Brit Miller, ranking him in a tie for first in the Big Ten. Miller has been called on to replace All-Big Ten performer J Lehman, a two-time All-Big Ten performer who ranked in the top five in the league in tackles in each of the past two seasons (No. 1 in '06, No. 5 in '07). From a statistical standpoint, Miller has been up to the challenge. In addition to the tackles for loss, the 6'1", 250-pound Miller leads the conference with 10.2 tackles per game and he's also totaled a team-best four sacks and two forced fumbles.

What's 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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