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Staff Picks: Likely no upset for Illinois at No. 3 Michigan

We don’t see an upset in the cards Saturday in Ann Arbor.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Will Charlton: #3 Michigan 31, Illinois 14

What happened? Where was the Illini team that played with passion each game and out-willed their opponents? The past two weeks haven’t completely taken away their chances at Indy but it certainly feels like it. Sadly now they go up against a Big Ten juggernaut and the struggles will not end. I just don’t see Illinois making changes this week as Michigan will clearly be the better team. Corum will have a big day on the ground, McCarthy will make plays with his arm when he has to, and the Wolverine defense is too much for the struggling Illini offense to deal with. It might be a little close at first like 10/14 to 7 at halftime but Michigan will do what they’ve done all season and pull away in the second half. I want to be proven very wrong, but I seriously doubt it. ILL though.

Noah Cowell: #3 Michigan 35, Illinois 10

This team just isn’t the same Illinois team that we saw win 6 games in a row. The last two games were ones the Illini needed to win the most, but no aspect of the team looked sharp. The defensive line, one that spent the first 8 games of the season dominating backfields, has been nonexistent. The offensive line has stopped creating holes for Chase Brown. And now the team goes into one of the most hostile environments in all of college football, facing up against a Michigan team that wins by over 30 points a game. I think Illinois brings motivation from the past two losses into the first half and keeps it within ten by half. However, much like they did against Rutgers, the Wolverines will polish each side of the ball and dominate the Illini to stay undefeated.

Ethan Parker: Illinois 23, #3 Michigan 13

I hate myself, but what the heck. If Illinois’ Big Ten West dreams are sinking, I’m going down with the ship. Illinois shocks the WORLD by defeating #3 Michigan, but the way I see it Michigan would have to beat themselves for that to happen. Some fumbles, INT’s, special team mishaps keep Illinois in the game long enough for Tommy Terrific to work his magic. Defense would have to have a day and the offense would have to have little to no mistakes for this miracle to come to become reality. Will this happen? No way. Am I a lunatic? Yes… yes I am. I-L-L baby.

Pleas Honeywood: #3 Michigan 30, Illinois 7

This game could get ugly. If MSU and Purdue are indicators of where this team is, the game could be theoretically over by halftime. The roster has been decimated by injuries since the Illini won six games in a row. While Illinois does present a tough style matchup for Michigan, Harbaugh’s crew is what the Illini long to be. But the roster isn’t there yet. It’ll take a few Elzys, Hills, Feagins, and Justin Scotts from in-state to make that real. So until then, the Illini will give it everything but even Tommy D. and a hobbled Chase Brown will struggle against that Michigan defense. But on the bright side, hello Cade McNamara.

Kyle Tausk: #3 Michigan 38, Illinois 10

2 weeks ago, I would’ve probably picked a single digit margin of victory for Michigan. After having watched Illinois get beat in the trenches by two mediocre opponents the last two weeks, I don’t think this one will be particularly close. The Wolverines have one of the best offensive lines in the country and should not have much trouble getting Blake Corum going on the ground early. With the Illini extremely thin at corner opposite Witherspoon, JJ McCarthy should be able to have an efficient day as well. As for Illinois’ offense, I’d be shocked if they have Chase Brown for this one and without him, I can’t imagine a scenario where Illinois scores enough to keep this one close. Wish I could be more optimistic here but I’ve got Michigan rolling into their bout against Ohio State with a blowout victory.

Thumpasaurus: #3 Michigan 23, Illinois 0

If our offense had any adjustments to make, last week was the time to make them. It’s not that I don’t think we’ll have any chances to score; we’ve done very well on our opening (scripted) drives this season. It’s just that our coaches have been very committed to going for it on 4th down in the red zone. I think we’ll get there twice and come away with no points.

Illinois needs to be willing to throw the ball to a lot more of the field if they want to stop Chase Brown from being swarmed in the backfield like he’s been the last couple weeks. Isaiah Williams needs more touches and we need to at least try a few deep shots early to try and get the defense to back off. That being said, the time for these adjustments was last weak against a Purdue secondary that was vulnerable to it.

When on offense with a significant talent advantage, Michigan likes to simply run the ball and flex their ability to dominate physically. Illinois will have no choice but to load up heavily against this, and I expect that at some point the Wolverines will hit Schoonmaker (the TE) for a huge gain on playaction. The Illini defense will stiffen up, especially against a Michigan offense that has struggled in the red zone. Unlike Illinois, Michigan will take the points.

Yes, I also fantasize about the Illini finding an extra gear with their backs against the wall, but if they did that I’d simply wonder why it wasn’t there in the most important game of the season last week

Matt Rejc: #3 Michigan 24, Illinois 16

There’s a possibility that the Illini take this game, but it’ll require a lot of good fortune, and the defense and offense will need to play their best football of the year. If Michigan overlooks the Illini (understandable with a playoff ticket on the line against OSU), then they could open themselves up a bit, but I doubt it’s enough on its own for the Illini to win the game. At the end of the day, the Illini simply need to emerge healthy so they can take the HAT and win a bowl game for the first time in a decade.