Records: Hoosiers (3-5, 1-3 Big Ten); Illini (3-5, 1-3)
When: 3:30 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1250 AM; 102.9 FM
On the Web: To watch a video preview for the game, go to Eyeing IU at www.journalgazette.net.
3 matchups to watch
IU vs. crucial situations: This one goes back to the 42-39 Minnesota loss, when all the Hoosiers needed to do to win, or at least force overtime, was hold onto the football from within the Golden Gophers 10-yard line. IU fans know how that ended: with a fumble and another heartbreaking loss. IU should have some similar chances against an Illinois squad that has the same record and the same urgency entering this game. The winner improves its bowl hopes; the loser will have to get a win against No. 4 Ohio State, a team that hasn’t lost a game in the past two seasons, in Columbus. IU coach Kevin Wilson picked up his first Big Ten win as coach of the Hoosiers with a 31-17 victory against the Illini last season. He and his team will hope for a similar result.
IU secondary vs. Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase: The Hoosiers are well-acquainted with Scheelhaase, who has been a stabilizing force for Illinois in an up-and-down year. The senior has thrown for 1,970 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and although the dual-threat quarterback is running much less than in the past – with just 66 attempts and 106 yards to his name – he is still a threat as a scrambler and can take off if need be. The Hoosiers have struggled to contain similarly shifty quarterbacks all season, and the secondary will need to pick up the slack and force some coverage hurries and sacks to keep Scheelhaase out of sync with his receivers.
IU running backs vs. Illinois front seven: The Illini give up 233.1 rushing yards per game, and both sophomore running back Tevin Coleman and senior running back Stephen Houston had 100-yard days against Minnesota. The offensive line was exceptional in that game, and the Illinois unit isn’t nearly as gifted as the Golden Gophers. If IU can get the run game established, it should be able to win.
Prediction: Indiana 42, Illinois 28