And, Ouimet's take on the Big Ten including predictions for this Saturday's big games. And even more -- how the MAC could end up as the fly in the BCS ointment.">
And, Ouimet's take on the Big Ten including predictions for this Saturday's big games. And even more -- how the MAC could end up as the fly in the BCS ointment.">

Ouimet: Any Fight In the Illini?

Former Michigan Assistant Recruiting Coordinator Mark Ouimet: "Look for Michigan to play a more up-tempo game again."<br><br> And, Ouimet's take on the Big Ten including predictions for this Saturday's big games. And even more -- how the MAC could end up as the fly in the BCS ointment.

It's a good idea to start with special teams again.
Illinois has a good kick returner, Ibrahim Halsey. And he's getting a lot of practice since Illinois' opponents are scoring a lot. He's averaging 24.7 yards on 14 returns. And their punter is good -- Steve Weatherford is averaging 44 yards a punt.

Michigan's special teams are getting better.
Steve Breaston is doing a good job. And we can expect to see Carl Tabb on kickoffs now, as well as maybe Breaston, Darnell Hood or Pierre Rembert. Tabb for sure.

The Michigan Offense vs. the Illinois Defense.

Michigan is averaging six yards a play, which is pretty good. Michigan is having success offensively, and that will continue against a below-average Illinois defense which is allowing 30.1 points a game. And Chris Perry is having a good year -- that's getting kind've overlooked but he's averaging 120 yards a game rushing ... he should pad that this week.

Illinois has played some teams extremely close (UCLA, Cal, Missouri), and has been blown out in their other games. So it's a hit or miss kind of team. Therefore it's important for Michigan to score early on them and get them down like Michigan State did last week against them. Illinois is giving up a lot of points early. So look for Michigan to play a more up-tempo game again, to spread 3-4 receivers out, to run more no-huddle. They've had success with that. And Michigan won't get away from the run, they'll run Chris Perry. And they'll use Perry as a receiver as well -- they've had success with that, and have stretched defenses into matchups they're not used to.

The Illinois defense HAS had17 sacks (to Michigan's 14) -- so they're pretty good there. They have some good players on defense -- they have a good safety in Marc Jackson, and two good linebackers, and Derek Strong on the defensive line. They just don't have overall depth. They are very thin depth-wise. So Illinois will try to blitz early. The Michigan offensive line will have to pick it ip -- and I think they will. I don't think Illinois will have success ... Michigan should score early and often.

The Michigan Defense vs. the Illinois Offense.

Illinois' kickoff returner Halsey is their tailback, averaging 66.3 yards a game. And Illinois averages 110 yards on the ground overall -- so they don't have a very good running game, 95th in the country. In contrast, Michigan averages 179 yards a game rushing. However, Illinois may look at Michigan's films and try to run it. So we'll see how that goes.

What they are better at is passing. Illinois has 15 touchdowns, 11 passing. They average 244 yards a game passing, 41st in the country. But Jon Beutjer is out, he got hurt last week. So Chris Pazan will be the guy. We recruited him, although he committed to Ill early. He's a second year guy, and he's their future. He's short -- 5-9 -- but strog. This will be his first significant game. His strength in high school was his accuracy.

So they will come out passing, and try to make Michigan's cornerbacks work hard (we'll see if Jeremy LeSueur plays). Cal Hayden is a good receiver, averaging 65 yards a game. And they will try to throw to the tailback and fullback out of the backfield a lot.

The Michigan defense has to avoid big plays, and get into the correct defensive schemes. And with a young quarterback they need to get to him, and with a short quarterback they need to knock down some passes. Larry Stevens and Pierre Woods (who leads the team in tackles - tied with 42 - and sacks), along with Lamarr Woodley, will have to exert the pressure. And by the way, Lawrence Reid is getting better every game.

Ouimet's Prediction: 42-13


Ouimet on the Big Ten Conference.

There are seven Big Ten teams ranked ... that will change after this week because there are several big games.

Purdue at Wisconsin: Purdue (5-1, 2-0, with only an opening game loss to Bolling Green) is my highest ranked team in the Big Ten, #7 (AP #13). They will win at Wisconsin (6-1, 3-0) Saturday. Michigan doesn't play Wisconsin, so they want Purdue to win.

OSU (5-1, 1-1) plays Iowa (5-1, 1-1) at OSU. Whoever loses that one is out of the Big Ten race with two losses. I think Iowa will win a close game, 1 point or less (;-). And Robert Reynolds ... that kind of thing happens in the heat of the battle, but a one game suspension isn't enough, it should be three.

MSU (6-1, 3-0) at Minnesota (6-1, 2-1). I predict Minnesota in that one. The strength of MSU's defense is blitzing the quarterback, but Minnesota will be running it -- will MSU be able to stop Minnesota's running offense?

One other thing, the BCS has a problem. Namely the MAC. Northern Illinois is undefeated, and has wins over Maryland and Alabama. And Bolling Green has beaten Purdue and lost only to OSU, by 7. AND .. the best team in MAC is Miami of Ohio with the best quarterback in the Midwest, Ben Roethlisberger-- Miami has lost only to Iowa 21-3 in their first game of the year, and has beaten CSU, Northwestern, and Cincinnati. So if Northern Illinois stays undefeated, how does the BSC keep them out? Or even, one could argue, any of these three teams if they end with one loss?

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