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TCR Staff Predictions: Illinois at Minnesota

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Maybe win No. 3?

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Cohn: Minnesota 37, Illinois 19

Doesn’t this just feel like a Minnesota 37, Illinois 19 kind of game? Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as high as anyone else on the Illini having a decent shot at a fairly unproven Gophers team, despite their 4-0 start. But am I really supposed to believe that Illinois wins its second conference road game in as many years and beats Minnesota after that thumping in Champaign last year? Absolutely not. I know better by now. Give me Illinois under 30 points for the first time this year, the defense not stepping up, and one week closer to basketball season.

Tristen Kissack: Minnesota 38, Illinois 27

Really don’t like this matchup for the Illini. Minnesota’s receivers could have a heyday against the Illinois secondary, and I’m not sure the offense has the fire power to keep up. Even coming off a bye, I don’t think the Illini have enough to steal this one up in Minny.

Michael Berns: Minnesota 48, Illinois 30

The Illinois defense has trouble defending big plays, especially in the second half. The secondary (and Lovie’s cover-2) are proving to be major weaknesses once the defensive line is tired and is no longer dominating the line of scrimmage. Minnesota likely has the best group of wide receivers Illinois will face this season — that includes the Michigan game next week. The Gophers’ depth at the wide receiver position combined with the fact that they are a typical Big Ten running team capable of some ground-and-pound, run-you-over plays means that Illinois’ defense once again will be on their heels. Even if Illinois’ offense gets back on track, we can’t expect 4 turnovers like we saw in the Nebraska game. Most of Minnesota’s personnel is the same group of players Illinois thrashed last season to the tune of 55-31. Goldy cares. A lot. They remember.

Matt Rejc: Minnesota 35, Illinois 31

This should be a close game, but the Illini have simply not yet shown the toughness necessary to pull out a win against a conference peer on the road. Reggie Corbin and Dre Brown should be able to run wild behind Illinois’ strong offensive line, but the liabilities of the defense will likely outweigh a bounce-back effort from the offense. If the defense can find enough ways to get off the field via three-and-outs and turnovers, and in turn be able to play four full quarters, then I can see the Illini pulling this one out. I just can’t see that happening yet.

Drew Pastorek: Illinois 37, Minnesota 31

Ugh. I really labored over this pick. Illinois should probably be 4-0 and Minnesota should probably be 1-3, though the Gophers’ receiving corps -- Chris Autman-Bell, Tyler Johnson, and Rashod Bateman -- is downright nasty. QB Tanner Morgan is coming off an epic performance against Purdue, throwing for 396 yards and 4 TDs, while completing 21 of 22 passes. No doubt about it, Minnesota can score. But Illinois can score, too. And neither team boasts a ton of defensive stalwarts. The key to the Illini attack should be clock control. Use the running game as much as possible and limit the Gophers’ offensive opportunities. Make them play defense to beat you. I’m still not convinced that the Fighting Flecks are actually good, and nothing that happens on Saturday would really sway me -- Minnesota is a two-touchdown favorite, so nobody will be surprised if they win comfortably. But Illinois is bad, so an Illini victory would only prove my point. Lovie and his staff have had two weeks to prepare for this game, and frankly, this is it. IF NOT NOW...WHEN? I already regret typing this.

Raul Rodriguez: Illinois 48, Minnesota 45

Call me crazy, but I think the Illini pull this one out. Lovie’s super young 2017 team hung with the Gophers. A year later, back in Champaign, the Illini wiped the floor with Gophers. This leads me to be believe Lovie knows how to prepare for Minnesota and he’s had two weeks to prepare. The Illini running game, led by Reggie Corbin, will give Minnesota hell. At the same, Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan should have a lot of success against the Illini. So, expect a shootout. But, the bottom line is that PJ Fleck makes Lovie blood boil and the result of this one will reflect that.

Patrick Catezone: Illinois 38, Minnesota 35

Anthony Pasquale: Illinois 34, Minnesota 34

For more on their predictions, check out the latest Oskee Talk.