Illinois is wrapping up the non-conference portion of their schedule this weekend against the Texas State Bobcats, a 1-1 squad coming off a loss to Navy. Check out Jim's excellent interview with Texas State blogger Will Butler for more on them. As for the Illini, finishing the first month of the season with a 3-1 record would be status quo; where most thought they'd be.
The competition really ramps up next week when they go on the road at Nebraska, but they also can't get caught napping against the Bobcats, a team that put up 65 points in week one. This game could have that all-too-familiar feeling from the Youngstown State affair if the Illini aren't careful. Below our staff writers give their predictions for who's going to win the game, but we want to hear from you too! Be sure to give us your pick in the comments section.
Jim Vainisi --- Illinois 38, Texas State 24
Illinois will find a way to make this another close game -- Texas State may even lead at one point. However, in the end I think the Illini will pull away and win somewhat comfortably against the Bobcats.
Mark Primiano --- Illinois 35, Texas State 24
You know what would be really nice after last week's game? A complete and total laugher in which we mop the floor with our non-power-five conference opponent. I'm not confident that will happen though. Illini win by eleven.
Matt Silich --- Illinois 45, Texas State 26
Matt's prediction comes once again from his excellent game preview article:
While I'm confident that Texas State is better than some of their statistical rankings may say, this defense looks like one that Illinois should really be able to abuse. We're talking 40, potentially 50 points could go up on the board here, depending on the pace of the game and turnovers. Even without Geronimo, Memorial Stadium should be hearing the fight song quite a bit. It's hard to trust the Illini after a disjointed first three weeks, but I feel oddly confident about this one for them. Hopefully, Illinois can avoid the need for another fourth quarter comeback.
Aaron Rench --- Illinois 31, Texas State 17
I'm ready to be 3-1 so bad. Half way to a bowl game? Please. Josh Ferguson is finally going to have a strong performance. No more of these 40-yard games -- 102 or bust. The Illini coaches will give added importance to the running game after last week's loss. Washington knew we weren't a threat on the ground, then committed most of their resources to stopping Lunt. This is the last chance to prove that the running backs and (especially) the O-line can get some yards on the ground.
Colin Whitchurch --- Illinois 38, Texas State 17
I live 30 minutes from Texas State and can confirm that it is a real university with real people who really care about their school's athletic success. That's about all I've got.
Bryce Smith --- Illinois 41, Texas State 17
The Illini should finally get their blowout game here. I look for the defense to play well for most of the game and the offense to thrash Texas State's defense. Anything over my prediction I'll be happy, anything under 14 points and I won't be. A key to this game will be to see if Lunt and the offense can actually start the game fast. Wouldn't that be nice, a quick start?
Trevor Vallese --- Illinois 45, Texas State 28
This will be the first comfortable win the Illini pick up this season... I think. Lunt throws several bombs to Dudek and the defense comes up with a big fumble recovery late to seal an easy victory. G-Mo and Teko Powell will be missed, but if there were a game this season where I would feel comfortable with those two being out, it would be this one.
BONUS PREDICTION: Earnest Thomas is going to make several huge plays on defense that will help put the Bobcats away in the second half. Maybe an interception return? Or a fumble recovery? Last week I predicted that Mikey Football would haul in the game-winning touchdown catch against the Huskies, and we all know how incorrect that was, which is exactly why you should listen to every word I say this week.
What say you?? Drop by below and let us know how you think the game is going to play out!