Illinois, fresh off a less-than-impressive Week 1 victory over Youngstown State, is set to take on Western Kentucky in a Week 2 matchup at Memorial Stadium. The Hilltoppers are coming off a 59-31 shellacking of defending MAC champion Bowling Green. Below, our staff makes their predictions on Saturday's outcome. Be sure to weigh in below on how you think the matchup will play out.
Jim Vainisi --- Illinois 35, Western Kentucky 27
It’s a close game, but Illinois manages to squeak out a win over a good WKU team. I expect the offense to come out firing (and running) as we see some improved play calling from Week 1. Western Kentucky’s potent offense will be a good early-season test for the Illini defense, but I believe they’ll be able to keep the team in the game.
Mark Primiano --- Illinois 35, Western Kentucky 30
Illinois is likely an okay Power 5 team that had a bad first week. Western Kentucky is likely a good smaller conference team that had an amazing first week. I don't think week one accurately represented either team's true talent level. Illinois in a shootout.
Matt Silich --- Illinois 38, Western Kentucky 27
Western Kentucky has the offensive firepower to hang around, but Illinois' improved defense should be able to hold them up enough for a win. We'll learn a lot about the Fighting Illini this week, but I like their chances against a Hilltoppers team that isn't as good as their last result implies.
Aaron Rench --- Illinois 34, Western Kentucky 28
I've had two dreams this week involving this game. The first one happened after I ate salsa, then ice cream, then a pickle right before I went to bed, so I don't know if I can trust it. In that dream, the Illini won with Lunt throwing four touchdowns and Tim Beckman ran for another. I'm going to assume that last part's fake. In the second dream, I didn't watch the game because my wife was having a baby (this is supposed to actually happen some time soon) but the Illini won on a last second hail mary and I was slightly mad because I didn't see it happen, which angered my dream-wife because I wasn't completely overwhelmed with the birth of our first kid.
Collin Whitchurch --- Illinois 40, Western Kentucky 31
I expect the Illini's offense to look far more comfortable in Week 2 and build a sizable lead that both shocks and comforts fans. Western Kentucky makes it interesting, but the offense is too much. Louisiana Tech from last year, this ain't.
Bryce Smith --- Illinois 41, Western Kentucky 31
The first game we saw a lot of jitters but then in the 4th quarter we showed our capability. I think the defense surprises making a few key stops against WKU’s prolific offense. Our offense picks up where they left off and ease the Illini fans a little bit, taking care of business against WKU.
Brandon Cain --- Illinois 31, Western Kentucky 17
Another week in Bill Cubit's offense and a late charge will give Wes Lunt added confidence against the Hilltoppers. Ferguson gets back to it on the ground and the Illini painfully control the clock.
Trevor Vallese - Illinois 45, Western Kentucky 41
This seems like it could very easily become 2012 versus Louisiana Tech 2.0. A non-power conference team that scores lots of points but is the slight underdog on the road. Hopefully the result is different this time around, though. Bobby Petrino certainly didn’t leave the cupboards empty at WKU, but I believe the Illinois offense will find its stride this week and it will be a high-scoring affair. Lunt throws for four and Ferguson contributes too. Illini win a close win.
Drop by below and let us know how you think the game is going to play out!