No. 3 Michigan hosts Illinois on Saturday in Ann Arbor. It's one of the most lopsided Big Ten games of the year -- maybe only less lopsided than the last game Michigan played -- and will end with Michigan winning by a lot of points.
The Wolverines are elite, and they're on a crash course to play Ohio State with two undefeated records on the line on Nov. 26. That's not guaranteed to come about, but if it doesn't, it's hard to see Illinois being what gets in the way. The Illini are a bland 2-4, and while they did beat Rutgers last week, the next piece of evidence to suggest they can play with Michigan will be the first. If the Wolverines are clicking, this shouldn't be especially close.
It's a battle between two former NFL coaches. Jim Harbaugh's 49ers beat Lovie Smith's Bears on Monday Night Football in 2012, long before the men's paths led them to this point. The result here should be similar.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. The broadcasters are Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen, and Lisa Byington.
Online streaming: BTN2Go
Spread: Michigan is favored by more than five touchdowns.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at The Champaign Room (for Illinois fans) and Maize N Brew (for Michigan fans).
Three big things to know
1. Michigan's going to create a lot of discounted steak. The Ruth's Chris Steak House in Ann Arbor launched a promotion before the Rutgers game that included a price reduction in percentage points by whatever margin of victory Michigan could accrue. It got expensive. The Wolverines won by 78, and Ruth's Chris moved to cap the discount at 50 percent. There will be more cheap steak after whatever Harbaugh does to Illinois.
2. Michigan's schedule until Ohio State is really something. The Wolverines play their next five games against Illinois, Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa, and Indiana. It'd be pretty shocking if the Wolverines lost any of those, but as long as they don't lose more than one (which they won't), they'll play Ohio State with a league title berth on the line.
3. Just for fun, how could Illinois be competitive? The Illini would need a lot of luck, including some Michigan turnovers. They'd need to rip off a whole lot of explosive running plays, which is the thing they've been best at on offense, even while they've struggled to be efficient in general. They'd need a lousy pass defense to have the game of its life, and they'd need to actually get stops when Michigan's offense is forced into passing downs. Given that Illinois has been one of the worst defenses in the country on such downs, it doesn't seem likely.