Football Field Forecast: Predicting Northern Illinois Versus Illinois

Expect Martez Wilson (#2) and the rest of the Illinois defense to keep a close eye on NIU running back Chad Spann (#28) on Saturday afternoon.

With a victory over Northern Illinois tomorrow afternoon, the 2010 Illinois Fighting Illini would be 2-1, a record that may not seem like much on paper but would actually be sort of a milestone (albeit a sad one) for the program.

Just how bad have the last two seasons of Illinois football been?

With a victory tomorrow, Illinois would be over .500 for the first time since November 1, 2008, when the Illini defeated Iowa to improve to 5-4.

That’s right.

When the Illini line up against the Huskies tomorrow, the team will have gone 687 days without having a winning record. Yikes!

While a win tomorrow will likely mean nothing more than one more victory in the team’s quest for a bowl, it could also be another non-conference confidence booster for the Illini  prior to a brutal schedule that kicks off Big Ten play.

Illinois head coach Ron Zook has tried to remind his players that they are not even a quarter of the way through their season yet, saying:

We’re excited about where we are at this point, (but) we still have a long way to go.

Despite his outward attitude, Zook has to be looking forward to the thought of being above .500 after entering the season on the hot seat.

Of course, as seen the last two seasons, nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to Illinois football.

Just as was the case against Southern Illinois, the Illini will have to come out ready to play.

If Illinois does, it should be alright against the Huskies.

Kill Released from Hospital

In this week’s Fighting the Fighting Illini preview, Writing Illini covered NIU coach Jerry Kill’s hospitalization.

The coach was released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital this morning and has made the trip to Memorial Stadium with his team.

We’re guessing he’ll be on the sidelines or at least in a press booth tomorrow morning.

Writing Illini Prediction

The Illini will remain perfect against public in-state foes as they run over a struggling NIU team.

While NIU’s defensive line will be considerably bigger than the SIU front four that Illinois controlled last Saturday night, the Illini dynamic running duo of Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford will still get the job done pounding the rock on the ground.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will build on his confidence from last week’s impressive performance and make plays both in the pocket and on the run.

While some projections have the Huskies scoring 28 or more points on the Illini, they seem to be looking at last year’s Illinois defense.

Under new defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, this year’s defensive unit  has impressed everyone by holding an explosive Missouri team to 23 points and keeping SIU out of the end zone entirely.

In fact, if it were not for a costly Eddie McGee interception on the Illini 20 against SIU, Illinois would likely have posted its first shutout since the 2007 season, when the Illini blanked another public, in-state university in Western Illinois.

Final Score

Illinois 31, NIU 10

Illini Game MVP Prediction

Junior running back Mikel Leshoure

NIU Game MVP Prediction

Running back Chad Spann

Some Predictions from the Credentialed

Local Media

Bob Asmussen: (News Gazette): Illinois 27, NIU 16

Metro Media

Herb Gould (Chicago Sun-Times): Illinois 34, NIU 24

Rick Armstrong (Chicago Sun-Times): NIU 27, Illinois 24

Shannon Ryan (Chicago Tribune): Illinois 28, Northern Illinois 23

Scott Powers (ESPN-Chicago): Illinois 31, NIU 14

National Media

Adam Rittenberg (ESPN): Illinois 26, NIU 14


Until tomorrow’s kickoff, which is set for 11:00 a.m. central time.

Tags: Chad Spann Eddie McGee Football Huskies Football Illini Football Illinois Fighting Illini Illinois Fighting Illini Football Illinois Football Jason Ford Jerry Kill Mikel Leshoure Missouri Football Nathan Scheelhaase NIU Football Northern Illinois Northern Illinois Football Northern Illinois Huskies Northern Illinois Huskies Football Ron Zook Vic Koenning Western Illinois Football

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