The Illini are generally regarded as 11-point favorites against the last-place Gophers, but who knows if that takes into account a few key factors:
1. New Minnesota coach Tim Brewster is a proud Illinois alumnus (he caught 64 passes as a tight end for the 1983 Big Ten champs) and sought the head-coaching job that Zook earned in December 2004.
2. Brewster's son, Clint, committed to play quarterback at Illinois last summer and maintained that commitment until the final days, when he switched over to his dad's new school.
3. That left Illinois without a quarterback recruit in the Class of 2007, so the unhappy Illini took the quarterback from Minnesota's class (Phil Haig) who de-committed once young Brewster came aboard.
4. All of these issues have built an immediate rivalry between the Illinois and Minnesota coaching staffs, which surely will carry over to the players.
Zook only spoke of the first item on this list when discussing the Gophers, but his conclusion isn't any different than if he took all of these factors into account.
"I'm sure that they've had this game circled since that staff got there, with Coach Brewster being an alumnus of here," Zook said. "This is an opportunity for them. We've got a little momentum going here, and it's an opportunity for them to derail us."