Illinois vs. Northwestern fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, November 24
Game Time: 3:30 ET
Venue: Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
Illinois (4-7) vs. Northwestern (7-4) Game Preview
One Reason Why Illinois Will Win
That running game that was on fire and rolled for 430 yards on Minnesota and looked like it was becoming something special … yeah, more of that.
It doesn’t always equate to wins, but at least the Illini have shown signs of being interesting with the running backs able to get into space and crank out yards in chunks, and QB AJ Bush also being able to tear off yards in chunks.
In the final game of the year, this is a chance to make the season. It’ll still be a losing campaign, but going 5-7 would seem like a step forward – even in an inconsistent season. But more than anything else, Illinois needs Northwestern to not care.
It was one thing for the Wildcats to show up and try against Minnesota last week, but even in a rivalry game – whatever. There’s a fine line between Northwestern being able to win, and being awful, and that line might be needing to stay in one piece for the Big Ten Championship next week.
That’s not how Pat Fitzgerald and the Cats roll, but considering the D doesn’t get behind the line and doesn’t generate a pass rush, and with the O always needing to come up with something big, attitude and focus on offense might just be enough for the Illini.
One Reason Why Northwestern Will Win
Teams just aren’t running well on the Wildcat D.
It’s not a hair-on-fire run defense, but everyone is in position, and there aren’t any missed tackles – that’s enough. Shockingly, it’s a rock-solid sound group, and it works against what Illinois likes to do with its ground game.
Wisconsin was able to pound away, and Nebraska had a little success, but Minnesota and its ground game and O went nowhere.
Notre Dame couldn’t run well, Iowa didn’t do much, and now, the Cats have gone three straight games without giving up around three yards per pop.
The formula can still work. Play good enough defense to bog the game down, come up with the two good drives when needed, and expect the inferior team to stall. This can and should be boring, and it’s what works.
What’s Going To Happen
It’ll be yet another close Northwestern battle with the offense not quite able to put the game away until late. However, this will be more like the Nebraska battle than the ugly 18-15 victory over Rutgers.
Illinois will have a few good drives, but it’ll stall way too often. Northwestern will look ugly like it always does, but the Illini defense won’t come up with the stop it needs to pull it off in the fourth quarter.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Northwestern 34, Illinois 27
Line: Northwestern -17, o/u: 58
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3
Must See Rating: 2
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