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 download 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.
Week 1: Illinois Fighting Illini (0-0) vs. Kent State Golden Flashes (0-0)
Friday night's season opener is against the Kent State Golden Flashes. They finished with a 2-9 record last season, placing them in a tie for last in the MAC East division. Here's how the teams stack up in the simulation:
Illinois Fighting Illini
- Overall: 79
- Offense: 83
- Defense: 78
Kent State Golden Flashes:
- Overall: 75
- Offense: 75
- Defense: 76
Illinois started strong, driving the ball down the field on their opening possession to set up a Taylor Zalewski field goal. Kent State would open up a strong run game in the first half to counter the Illini and would, surprisingly, find themselves holding the lead at the break. Here's the scoring drive summary:
Halftime Score: Kent State 17 , Illinois 10
Wes Lunt would command the Illinois passing offense in the second half, and found success down the field, notching two touchdowns over 50 yards to freshman Sam Mays, and the other to Dionte Taylor. Lunt's favorite targets were Geronimo Allison (9 catches, 174 yards), and TE Tyler White (6 catches, 60 yards). Even though Josh Ferguson was held under 75 yards, he was able to rack up a total of 122 all-purpose yards with a touchdown. Illinois' major concerns were on the defensive side of the ball, as they gave up over 500 yards of total offense for the game. Also, the offense was sluggish in the red zone, only converting 44% of their trips into points.
Colin Reardon and the Flashes threatened late after the Orange and Blue took a 34-17 lead, but the defense held tough and Illinois held on for a victory under the Friday night lights.
Final Score: Illinois 34, Kent State 31
Here is the second half scoring summary: