Fresh off a 38-6 drubbing of Wyoming, the Illini hit the road opening Big Ten play in Bloomington, Indiana this Friday at 7 PM CST. Let’s take a look at what they need to do to earn a win over the Indiana Hoosiers.
Repeat the same gameplan
The Illini looked great on the offensive side of the field last week, as they completely dominated Wyoming. They finished with 26 first downs and 477 total yards of offense, as they were moving the ball up and down the field against the Cowboys.
The Illinois run game was the story of that one, though. They finished with 260 rushing yards as they continued to gash their opponents on the ground.
The offense also did a great job of protecting the ball, as they finished the game with zero turnovers. This will be huge against Big Ten opponents, who will capitalize on free possessions.
Draw on their game experience
The Indiana Hoosiers are going to get the benefit of the doubt at home, and Illinois hasn’t been good on the road over the years, losing five of their last seven away from Champaign.
However, Indiana has a lot of question marks on its roster and the lack of playmakers is concerning. The Hoosiers will have new players at both quarterback and running back as well as new faces in their receiver corps.
Furthermore, Indiana also has had to rebuild its defense which gave up 33.3 points per game last season, 109th in the nation.
Illinois also has a game under its belt to get the rhythm underway, and the Fighting Illini looked encouraging.
How much will it matter that Illinois was able to tune up and roll against Wyoming? A lot.
Illinois now has confidence that it has its quarterback in Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito. Meanwhile, Chase Brown is looking like a star after running for 151 yards and three scores.
The Illinois secondary will be a strength early on with a good group of veterans helping out an improved pass rush – it held Wyoming to just 30 yards in the 38-6 Week 0 win.
As long as the Illini offense can grind it out and control the clock (the line should be able to handle the Hoosier defensive front without too much of a problem), the D should be able to take care of the rest.
It's hard to believe the two teams haven't met since 2017, a 24-14 Indiana victory. Overall, Illinois is 44-24-3 against the Hoosiers, but they haven't beaten them since 2011 with Indiana taking the last three matchups.