After a closer-than-expected loss to Missouri, Illinois should tiptoe past Southern Illinois in a competive game Saturday night.

Football Field Forecast: Predicting Southern Illinois Versus Illinois

The Illini football home opener against Southern Illinois is tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Be sure to follow along with Writing Illini’s Gameday Binoculars and our live drive and score updates on Twitter.

As for right now, here’s a prediction on Saturday’s game.

Upset Avoided

After last week’s disappointing loss to Missouri, Illinois will get back on track against Southern Illinois, despite this game looking and feeling like an upset special after the Salukis crushed Quincy 70-7 last week.

While the Illini have lost another defensive player (Michael Buchanan, to suspension rather than injury) and Southern Illinois is experienced on the offensive side of the ball, Illinois will even its 2010 record at 1-1.

Southern Illinois’ defense is not on the same level as that of the Missouri defense, and it’s unlikely that Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is going to commit 4 turnovers again.

Without the turnovers, and with less pressure on the young quarterback, the Illini offense should look more like the unit that was on display during the first half of last week’s game.

Running back Mikel LeShoure is primed to have another great game, and Scheelhaase should be able to get comfortable in the pocket and have more time to pass the ball.

While SIU will likely put up some points with an experienced quarterback leading an offense that has been dubbed “the Boise State of the Midwest,” Illinois’ size and strength should tip the scales in favor of the Illini by the end of the game.

Final Score

Illinois 34, SIU 27

Illini Game MVP Prediction

Freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase

SIU Game MVP Prediction

Quarterback Chris Dieker

Some Predictions from the Credentialed

Local Media

Bob Asmussen: (News Gazette): SIU 24, Illinois 21

Tom Young (News Gazette): Illinois 28, SIU 17

Metro Media

Herb Gould (Chicago Sun-Times): Illinois 31, SIU 24

Shannon Ryan (Chicago Tribune): Illinois 32, SIU 10

National Media

Adam Rittenberg (ESPN): Illinois 24, SIU 20


Until tomorrow night.

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Tags: Adam Rittenberg Bob Asmussen Chris Dieker Eddie McGee Football Herb Gould Illinois Fighting Illini Football Illinois Football Martez Wilson Michael Buchanan Mikel Lehsoure Nathan Scheelhaase Ron Zook Salukis Football Shannon Ryan SIU Football Southern Illinois Football Southern Illinois Salukis Football Tom Young

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