There are three games left on the Illini's schedule. They must win two. The Ohio State's and Nebraska's are over with-all these games are winnable. With quarterback Wes Lunt back there is hope for the Illini as they will face Iowa, Penn State, and then Northwestern on the road. Last week Iowa lost to the Minnesota team we beat 51-14. Penn State beat a terrible Indiana team 10-7, and scored on a long TD run. Northwestern lost to Michigan in an epically bad battle, 10-9. Pat Fitzgerald attempted to go for two to put the Wildcats up 11-10. In a football game. This is a crucial game for Tim Beckman and co. as they look to earn two wins in the B1G for the first time. This game could change the Illini season for better or for worse. There's reason for hope but will the Illini win? See what the staff thinks:
Jim Vainisi: Iowa 34, Illinois 24
I want to believe. I want to believe that the players will come out and fight for Beckman. I want to believe that Illinois could win. Sadly, I just don’t see it happening. Two more weeks.
Aaron Rench: Illinois 34, Iowa 30
This is the hardest B1G game to predict this week. Each team has a potential ceiling or a possible floor that are equally likely to happen on any week, like a bouncy ball with magnets. In the end though, bye weeks have proven to be supremely beneficial and the Illini have been building up for this one for two weeks. (Possibly three weeks considering how they played against Ohio State.) Illinois Wins, 34-30.
Brad Repplinger: Illinois 38, Iowa 28
The Hawkeyes looked as good as the Bears last week against Minnesota. No need for any heroics as the Illini win off of 3 straight touchdown passes from Wes Lunt to Geronimo Allison. Also, V'Angelo Bentley runs back a kick to open the game. No kool-aid this week folks, this is a game we SHOULD win!
You heard the man: No kool-aid, straight up!
Collin Whitchurch: Iowa 30, Illinois 17
I understand that Illinois is at home and I understand that Iowa is coming off of a pretty embarrassing loss, but there's no reason the Hawkeyes shouldn't win this game by double digits unless Wes Lunt shows zero rust and the Illini defense forces some turnovers.
Mark Primiano: Iowa 31, Illinois 28
Lunt's grand return will at least mean the offense is worth watching again. Iowa's going to come out angry after getting completely embarrassed by Minnesota last week. Sadly, the transitive property doesn't apply to football.
Trevor Vallese: Iowa 34, Illinois 28
The Illini welcome back Wes Lunt in grand fashion as he throws for three first half TDs to propel Illinois to a 21-13 halftime lead over Iowa. But the Hawkeye defense stiffens and only allows one touchdown in the second half. The team that put up 48 points against Northwestern is the one that shows up in the third quarter and the Illini drop a close one to Iowa, 34-28. I also predict at least two sideline interference penalties, kicks-out-of-bounds, or fights between Beckman and Cubit. Because why not.
Bryce Smith: Illinois 38, Iowa 27
As Aaron once said: New helmets and a new quarterback will combine to lead an Illini win. The fans will have some fun as Wes Lunt airs it out and the offense keeps the Illini on the top the entire game. The off week was huge for the defense, I believe, so they will come out and have another Minnesota-like performance. I have said for a while that Iowa is overrated and I hope we can expose that this weekend and get our second Big Ten win. One thing that people forget: Iowa lost to an Iowa State (2-7) team that just lost to Kansas. In football.
Josh Ferguson has his first big game of the year and runs all over the Iowa defense. He is able to help out Wes Lunt and the passing game and be a dual-threat offense, which they haven't done much this year.
What are your guys predictions? Comment below on this big game!
As always you can find Matt's prediction in his game preview.