Michigan at Illinois Preview 2019

Spoiler: Illinois is very bad at football

Like Rutgers but orange
Kickoff time: Noon EST
Memorial Stadium - Champaign, Illinois
Michigan -22.5, O/U 49.5

At the 2016 Michigan Illinois game I sat near a pair of Illinois fans who were quiet for most of the afternoon. Illinois had just beaten Rutgers 24-7 and Michigan was coming off a bye after beating Rutgers 78-0. For those Illinois  fans, there really wasn't much to cheer for as the game was 34-0 going into the 4th (to be honest I don't remember any of the first three quarters, the day was that uneventful). But Illinois had a lucky break in the 4th after a 43 yard touchdown pass following a Michigan fumble. The Illini fan sitting nearby made his first noise of the day by raising his hands to the sky and proudly shouted "WE'RE NOT RUTGERS!"

The current state of Illinois football right now is just that: they're not Rutgers. Iowa was Wisconsin Lite. Illinois is Rutgers Plus. Their two wins this season are from two of the bottom five teams in the country. They lost to Eastern. Illinois is not good at football (but ignore the part where they have a more recent Big Ten Championship than Michigan- sorry sorry I'm trying to delete it).

Credit Illinois fans for having heart though:
They landed Brandon Peters but then they broke him.

A weird sect of the Illini faithful view Michigan as one of their rivals which is as adorable as it is weird. Any time someone who didn't know the schedule asked who Michigan's playing next and I said "Illinois", I've never heard anything but "oh."

Illinois Offense vs Michigan Defense

This part would've been about former Michigan QB Brandon Peters facing off against his former teammates but he's most likely out with either a shoulder injury or a concussion type thing. So his backup is... uhhh..... a redshirt freshman. QB Matt Robinson (#12) has 50% completion on the year for 125 yards, most of which was against Minnesota. If he goes down, Illinois' QB depth goes down to walk-on level performances. 

The Fighting Illini do have a nice running back in Reggie Corbin (#2). Reggie is averaging 6.6 yards per run including a 66 yarder against Nebraska, remove that run and he's still at around 5.5. He'll be running behind NFL-draft-ish RT Alex Palczewski (#63). There was concern last weekend about Iowa's tackles as being certain NFL draft picks and Michigan's defensive line reduced them to rubble. Palczewski isn't generating quite the hype and so if we're to look for one positive in this game, it's how Michigan's ends handle him.

Illinois' offense ranks around the mid-50s on SP+ but without Brandon Peters that's sure to take a hit. I could write more about the Illinois offense but they really don't have many options to go up against another top five Michigan defense. If Michigan has a game similar to the Iowa game then expect a lot of plays to go the opposite direction for Illinois.

Illinois Defense vs Michigan Offense

The Illinois defense ranks behind Rutgers on SP+ (13th overall in the Big Ten) which is what happens when you give up 82 points in two Big Ten games and 34 points to Eastern Michigan. Against both Minnesota and Nebraska, the Illini have given up over 300 rushing yards (Nebraska would go on to put another 328 through the air). Michigan may very well put up another Rutgers game performance.

Of course it is not all doom and gloom, Illinois does have Oluwole Betiku Jr. (#47). Oluwole is 3rd in the country in sacks with seven so far on the year. While this sounds frightening at first, it should be noted that five of these came against Akron and UConn. Still, with Shea getting antsy at the first sign of pressure, Oluwole is sure to be annoying.

Illinois' other legitimate dangerman is LB Jake Hansen (#35). So far this season Jake has 2.5 sackes, an interception, and four forced fumbles. Michigan has been fumbling a lot this season so watch out for Jake to make the  game annoyingly close early with a big play. 

Michigan's offensive performance against Rutgers has been caveated with "But Rutgers." Michigan's offensive performance after this weekend should probably be caveated with "But Illinois." Michigan Football's twitter account did tweet this out earlier:

There's a nonzero chance that that's a subtle hint that they want to incorporate Joe Milton into the gameplan more. Shea's not been performing to expectation and Dylan McCaffrey is likely still out. I would not be opposed to even having Joe Milton play a whole half. The defense will most definitely do their job to allow him some room for mistakes.

Key matchup, Josh Uche beard vs Lovie Smith beard
Best Case Scenario
The Rutgers game but on the road. I think the best best case scenario is that Joe Milton plays a great game that gives us all something resembling hope.

Worst Case Scenario
Even the worst case scenario is probably a comfortable win, but if Michigan's offense can't move the ball against Illinois then there will be many more torches and pitchforks on social media after the game.

The Part Where Patrick Gets the Score Completely Wrong
Michigan - 42
Illinois - 6

Past Highlights



No comments

Post a Comment