Stephen Cohn: Illinois 52, UConn 3
Let’s keep working the magic here. Nearly was correct last week; aiming for that again.
But, again, on a serious note, this UConn team isn’t very good. Illinois also might not be very good, but the Illini are certainly better than the Huskies. If Brandon Peters can play game manager and Isaiah Williams can get in there for a few snaps in a blowout Illinois win, it’s a successful day. They don’t have to win by 49, but leave with your health and a chance to finish the non-conference play 3-0 next week and I’ll be happy as can be.
Jacob Rajlich: Illinois 38, UConn 10
Coming off a stomping of Akron, Illinois heads into a matchup against UConn where once again they are favored considerably. UConn was only able to beat Wagner, a school which I had never heard of previously. I don’t imagine that Illinois will be able to pummel UConn on the road like they did Akron at home, but I don’t imagine that the game will be competitive for long. I love Brandon Peters and this year’s offense, and they’ll need to perform once again to secure another win as they look to sweep the non-conference slate, and hopefully have a fighting chance at making a bowl game.
Michael Berns: Illinois 45, UConn 28
If this line of Illinois -20 holds, I do not expect Illinois to cover. Something about a road trip nearly 1,000 miles away with an inexperienced quarterback in Brandon Peters makes me nervous. “Good teams win, great teams cover” is the mantra around these college football parts. After Akron last week, Illinois might be good — but they certainly aren’t great until they prove us otherwise. I have complete faith in Rod Smith’s offense and Reggie Corbin scoring on a couple of big plays (60+ yard touchdown type plays), but I still have concerns in the passing game and in Lovie’s defense. UConn is bad, and it shows Week 2.
Raul Rodriguez: Illinois 35, UConn 14
The Illini did better than expected in Week 1 against an Akron team in game 1 of a new era. Now, the Illini face a more experienced coaching staff in UConn. So, while I understand that the Illini will face a team in Uconn that’s probably as good as Akron, I think this will be a tougher matchup for the Illini. Uconn only beat Wagner, a below average FCS team, 24-21. Understandably, many expect an Illini blowout. I think we get a blowout in this game eventually but not before the Illini struggle a bit. I expect Brandon Peters to have another solid outing. I also expect the Illini defense to have some early struggles before shoring things up at halftime. I expect this to be a close game in the third before the Illini pull away to win 35-14.
Drew Pastorek: Illinois 38, UConn 16
Let’s get crazy. Let’s get nuts. The Illini throttled Akron last week, which was a very pleasant surprise. And they did so without really showing a whole lot. They might have overachieved a touch, but the hype train is a-rollin’. If this game took place at Memorial Stadium I would happily predict a score akin to last week’s 42-3. The only hangup I have is that the game is in Connecticut. Like Berns mentioned, the Illini certainly aren’t great. But UConn is reaaaaaally bad. Maybe not “last season’s worst defense in college football history bad” but bad nonetheless. The Huskies’ lone win last year came in a squeaker against a subpar FCS team. Last week’s win? 24-21 against Wagner — Staten Island’s Football Team! — a subpar FCS team. Illinois opens up the offense, Brandon Peters continues to be an effective field general, Reggie Corbin does more Reggie Corbin things, Josh Imatorbhebhe and Trevon Sidney show out against an overmatched defense, and the Illini win going away. Plus, I’ve been on record as saying that if Illinois doesn’t score at least 35 in this game they ought to disband the program. I referred to last week’s point spread as a “sucker bet.” Damn that. Put grandma’s inheritance on the Orange & Blue this week. A 20-point favorite ON THE ROAD? Yowie wowie!
Thumpasaurus: Illinois 59, UConn 10
Drew, is that what you call “let’s go crazy”? 38-16? Naw. Hell naw. This offensive line is just too dominant. Some of what I saw from the UConn defense against Wagner suggests several one-play touchdown drives are coming. I’m willing to trust this team against a UConn squad that really is notably worse than Akron. Illinois has lacked an overpowering offensive line for many years, with last year’s coming into its own over the course of the season. This year is different, and you can afford to make a lot of mistakes when you’re so dominant up front. The Illini will run roughshod over this team, which will not have enough beef in their own offensive line to make any hay against Big Ten level athletes. I’m picking Brandon Peters in my fantasy league for my annual homer pick.
Mark Schaer: Illinois 48, UConn 16
If Illinois loses this game, I will actually be surprised. That is not something I have said about Illinois football in quite a while. I haven’t felt this confident going into a football game since V’Angelo Bentley was returning punts and kickoffs. Apparently UConn’s defense is worse than Illinois’ was last year, which is... saying something. I liked what I saw in Brandon Peters last weekend, and even with Mike Epstein out for the season, I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw in Ricky Smalling, Trevon Sidney, and Josh Imatorbhebhe against Akron. (Again, it was Akron, but we’ll at least give the defense some kudos for not doing what they did against Kent State.) Reggie Corbin and Dre Brown will get plenty of work in, too. I think the defense will not benefit from as many dropped passes as they did against Akron, so UConn might score a few points. But the Illini will cover, you can bet $55,000 on that.