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NCAA Football '14 Simulation: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

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We used the popular EA Sports video game to simulate the results of Saturday's Illini game. Will the Illini defense hold strong against a Power 5 team?

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

With the help of some passionate college football fans in the world of the internet, TCR will be simulating every Illinois football game this season using EA Sports' NCAA Football '14. We've downloaded updated rosters and the team depth charts will be changed on a week-by-week basis to reflect what we'll see on the field. We'll also check the weather forecast to mirror the expected conditions at kickoff.

Last season, our simulations predicted the correct outcome 70% of the time.

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Week 3: Illinois Fighting Illini (2-0) @ North Carolina Tar Heels (1-1)

Here we are, one of the biggest games of the season is upon us as Illinois travels to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels.  The Illini are coming off another dominating performance against Western Illinois, shutting out the Leathernecks in Memorial Stadium.  This week, they face a balanced Tar Heel offense that produces an average of 240 yards in the air and 210 yards on the ground.  Here's how each team is rated:

Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Overall: 79
  • Offense: 83
  • Defense: 78
North Carolina Tar Heels
  • Overall: 90
  • Offense: 90
  • Defense: 88

Simulation:

Even though Illinois was outmatched in the ratings, they started the game strong when Wes Lunt hit Geronimo Allison for a 27 yard touchdown pass.  After the defense held the Heels' offense, Taylor Zalewski booted a 28 yard field goal to give the Illini a 10 point lead in the 1st Quarter.  The Tar Heels surrendered 4 turnovers in the first half, with 2 passes intercepted (one by Taylor Barton and the other by Mason Monheim) and 2 fumbles.  Both teams would trade blows though as Elijah Hood found the endzone twice and Marquise Williams added a touchdown run of his own.  But Sam Mays would snag a touchdown pass from a yard out, Josh Ferguson took a 2 yard run to the house, and Zalewski kicked a 36 yard field goal to give the Illini a 27-21 halftime lead.

In the second half,  Zalewski continued to shine as he nailed field goals of 39, 32, and 36 yards.  But field goals were not enough to contain Williams as he hit Kendrick Singleton for a 6 yard touchdown pass.  Add to that another Elijah Hood touchdown run, and the game was tied at the end of the quarter.

The turnover bug that plagued the Tar Heels early hit the Illini hard in the 4th, as Lunt would throw 3 interceptions which all lead to Carolina scores.  Mack Hollins grabbed 2 touchdown passes of 15+ yards, and Marquise Williams ran for another touchdown to put the Heels up big.  Illinois tried to rally late, as Sam Mays caught another touchdown pass from Lunt, but it was too late. Nick Weiler garnished the victory with a 43 yard field goal to give North Carolina a 17 point victory.

Final Score: Illinois 43, North Carolina 60


Here is the scoring summary and team stats for the game: