Ah, October 5th, 1946. I remember it like it was yesterday. That was when Illinois, under 5th-year head coach Ray Eliot, put a hurting on the Boilermakers 43-7 in Champaign. It remains their largest margin of victory ever against Purdue, and the Illini will hope to duplicate that type of performance this Saturday when they welcome the Boilers into town. It is arguably one of the most important games of Tim Beckman's career as Illinois head coach, because if the Illini were to lose this one, his seat would continue to grow hotter. See if our staff writers think Beckman can put some breathing room between him and a pink slip below when they make their game predictions, but we want to hear from you too! Be sure to give us your pick in the comments section.
Jim Vainisi --- Illinois 31, Purdue 24
I predict we'll see more of what we've been seeing from this Illini team on Saturday. The offense will get off to a slow start and Purdue will take the lead into halftime. Fans panic, but Lunt orchestrates another come-from-behind victory. Suddenly the team is 4-2 and with two more wins they're bowling.
Mark Primiano --- Illinois 42, Purdue 20
Wes Lunt is back and healthy. That is fantastic news. Also fantastic news? Purdue ranks 96th in points scored per games. They rank 81st in points allowed per game. And that's with games against Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and SIU. Tim Beckman should get his first home conference win and the first laugher of the 2014 season.
Aaron Rench --- Illinois 41, Purdue 17
Yeah, that's right; Illinois wins quite easily. Lunt starts out hot, Ferguson and Young get plenty of handoffs, and the defense is in Danny Etling's face all game. All of this combines for a great week including the silence of Beckman haters. This will be the most dominant game of the Fighting Beckmans.
Colin Whitchurch --- Illinois 30, Purdue 20
I don't know if this is going to be a game where both defenses are so incompetent that it becomes a shootout or if it's going to be a game where both teams are just so all-around incompetent that points are at a premium, but I'm thinking it will be somewhere in between.
Bryce Smith --- Illinois 43, Purdue 19
I have been pretty realistic (and accurate) this season when it comes it comes to picks, and I think I'll be close again this Saturday. Illinois will finally get to see the blowout win their fans have all been waiting for all season. Tim Beckman's seat will cool down a little bit and Illini fans will calm down a little bit. The offense will be able to play well and the defense will continue its trend of tackles-for-loss and turnovers; it will be too much for Purdue.
Brad Repplinger --- Illinois 38, Purdue 15
Since we don't know much about Wes Lunt and his leg injury, one would think that his movement in the pocket this game will be limited. That being the case, look for more quick slants and screen passes for short gains and the offense to methodically move the ball down the field. I would also love to see Josh Ferguson run for over 100 yards and have over 150 all purpose yards. Defensively, all I want to see is Purdue stay out of the endzone. With the way that our linebackers/STAR position players have played recently, I think that wish may in fact come true. Give Mr. Paul Griggs five field goals and put it on my tab!
Trevor Vallese --- Illinois 28, Purdue 20
This game will be much closer than it should be. I imagine this is one of the few Big Ten matchups that the Boilermakers feel like they have a chance to actually win, and if it were in West Lafayette I'd be much more dubious about Illinois' chances. But let's face it, Purdue is simply a bad football team and I think if Wes Lunt is playing and is relatively healthy, the Illini will pull out a victory.
BONUS PREDICTION: The defense will come up with their first truly big stop of the season when Purdue drives to the Illinois 10-yard line but is stopped on 4th down and goal to end the game.
Matt Silich's prediction can always be found in his excellent weekly game preview (seriously, check it out). Again, drop by below to tell us what you think is going to happen this weekend!