Matt Rejc: #21 Illinois 34, Purdue 24
There are a lot of factors going in favor of the Illini in this game, and I do think they’re able to leave last week in the past. Charlie Jones and Aidan O’Connell will pose a threat, but Devon Witherspoon, Quan Martin, and Sydney Brown will be ready for them. I predict two interceptions by the secondary on the day, each of which will turn into points on the other end. Chase Brown will do his typical thing, and the Illini will jump out to an early 14-0 lead on two long runs. Senior Day will mean a lot to not only the seniors on this roster, but also the other players who very likely won’t be coming back (Witherspoon, Randolph, Newton, etc.). That motivation will translate onto the field.
Will Charlton: #21 Illinois 24, Purdue 17
This game essentially determines if Illinois will play in Indianapolis. A win (which I expect against a struggling team) would mean one more win in the final two games clinches the division. But here’s why Illinois wins – Chase Brown. The Purdue defense is pretty lackluster against the run, and that showed BIG time last weekend against Iowa in the blowout loss, no offense, but how do you lose by three touchdowns to IOWA?? I expect this Boiler team to be motivated to play well after tough back-to-back losses, and the combination of O’Connell and Jones won’t be easy for the Illini secondary to stop, but in the end Chase Brown is just too much for Purdue to handle and he continues to tear it up on the ground. DeVito continues to be very efficient, the offensive line plays MUCH better than last weekend, the defense plays more aggressive, and all around the Illini will show that they are mad about losing last weekend. I also think this game is not as close as my score indicates as Purdue probably gets a garbage time touchdown or field goal. Let’s make it 8-2 on Saturday, ILL.
Ethan Parker: #21 Illinois 21, Purdue 10
Something inside of me was screaming Purdue win. Maybe because of all the heartbreak and despair the Illini always seem to put me through, or because it always seems when it matters the most we are on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Purdue getting waxed by Iowa at home last week almost scares me more than if they would have beaten them. It almost feels like they are saving the offense… for us? My mental and physical well-being is at risk so that’s why I’m taking the Illini. Going down the checklist in favor of Illinois:
1. Senior Day 2. Game at Memorial, day after Veterans Day (gotta be some good karma there) 3. Chase “Bulldozer” Brown 4. Barry Lunney Jr.’s Extension 5. This Defense is never satisfied.
To the spirit in the sky, let us have this one. Next week you can put us in the Big House blinder, but for now give the Illini this one, ILL.
Pleas Honeywood: #21 Illinois 20, Purdue 17
I think Illinois’ secondary is the best Purdue has seen/will see this year. Witherspoon, Martin and company could make life very difficult for Aidan O’Connell. On Senior Day in Champaign and coming off a loss, emotions will run high. I expect the Illini upperclassmen to grind out a tough victory against a Purdue team coming off a similarly embarrassing loss. Tommy DeVito played well in spite of the loss last week, and I suspect the Illini will put more trust in their QB’s hands.
Drew Pastorek: #21 Illinois 23, Purdue 17
Yes, Illinois came up short against Sparty last week. But let’s remember that the Illini moved the ball very well, outgaining MSU 441-294. Illinois had several missed opportunities that they simply couldn’t overcome. Meanwhile, Purdue absolutely laid an egg at home against Iowa, a team that just discovered something called a “forward pass” about two weeks ago.
I think this game will be close because of Illinois’ tendency to run the ball and limit the opponent’s time of possession. Chase Brown will continue his streak of 100-yard games, but I’m hopeful that newly-extended OC Barry Lunney will call a better game and not have Brown run up the middle 35 times. Defensively, Devon Witherspoon will put Charlie Jones in a straitjacket & Illinois will force an interception for a 13th straight game.
The Fighting Illini have allowed nine TDs all season. The Boilermakers have given up 27. If illinois’ defense replicates what it’s done all season, they should be able to win. I expect a tight, competitive game with the B1G West likely on the line.
These seniors deserve to walk off that Memorial Stadium field victorious. The Illini get it done for guys like Palcho, Quan & Sydney, but also for those who may be leaving early, like Chase, Spoon & The Law Firm. As Matt said, I believe the Orange & Blue will be doubly-motivated – cleanse themselves of last week’s loss and send off the seniors strong.