Preview: Michigan vs. Illinois

Previewing Michigan's upcoming game against Illinois.

Michigan returns to the field after a bye week to the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium to celebrate Homecoming.

The Wolverines welcome Illinois for a collegiate first. It'll be the first time in college football history that two former Super Bowl head coaches (Jim Harbaugh and Lovie Smith) will face head-to-head in the collegiate ranks. The four-year hiatus between playing each other is also the largest gap since 1919.

Both teams enter this match-up with plenty to play for.

Last Meeting: Michigan defeated Illinois 45-0 in 2012.

What a win means for Michigan: This is a game Michigan should win with ease. However, the bye week rust could slow the Wolverines down a little bit in the early parts of the game on Saturday. At any rate, a win for U-M on Saturday means it took care of business on the football field. The coaching staff and players preach that the most important game is the next one, so this game in particular will receive plenty of attention to avoid a devastating mishap.

What a win means for Illinois: The Illini would largely play the part of the spoiler if it were able to pull off the upset on Saturday. A victory would likely derail a season that many were banking on being special for the Wolverines. It's one of those victories that shake the very foundation of the conference and sets the tone for a program for the future. If Illinois fans were looking at a starting point and a marquee victory in the Lovie Smith era, a victory over Michigan would be it.

Player to Watch: On the defensive side of the ball, defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot is a player to watch. A preseason All-American, Smoot is averaging two tackles for loss per game during conference play. For the season, he has compiled 30 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one sack, five hurries, two forced fumbles and one safety. He will be a player the offensive lineman will keep an eye on at all times as wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage is something he is known for. He will likely provide a greater challenge to the line than anything Rutgers threw at them two weeks ago.

What they're saying: Illinois head coach Lovie Smith:


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