Head coach Ron Zook and No. 19 aim to remain undefeated as they go on the road to face the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday.
After opening the season with convincing wins over Arkansas State and South Dakota State, the Illini have been tested at home the last three weeks, scoring three-point wins over No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils, Western Michigan and Big Ten rival Northwestern Wildcats. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase leds the Illini's offensive attack, rushing for 259 yards and three touchdowns and completing nearly 70 percent of his pass attempts for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns against three interceptions.
A trio of running backs -- Jason Ford, Donovonn Young and Troy Pollard -- have combined for 132 attempts for 734 yards and nine touchdowns. Junior dfensive end Whitney Mercilus and junior Michael Buchanan, who plays the "Bandit" position, have combined for 10 quarterback sacks through five games.
The Hoosiers are 1-4 under first-year head coach Kevin Wilson, and are coming off a 16-10 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions. Sophomore quarterback Dusty Kiel made his first start against Penn State, completing 22-of-45 pass attempts for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the loss. Getting back to the running game may be a priority for the Hoosiers. After averaging nearly 170 yards and two touchdowns on the ground the first three games of the season, Indiana's ground game has just 122 yards on 58 carries with zero scores the last two weeks.
Game date, time: 2:31pm ET, Saturday, October 8, 2011
Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana
TV channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Fighting Illini are favored by 14.5 points
Series history: Fighting Illini leads the series, 44-21-3
For further reading, news, discussion and more, visit Illinois blog Hail To The Orange and Indiana blog The Crimson Quarry. Here’s this week’s college football TV schedule, and stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news hub for more.