Sep 17, 2010; Chicago, IL, USA; Outside view of Soldier Field prior to the game between the Wisconsin Badgers and Northern Illinois Huskies. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Football: Washington Gameday Preview

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Illinois vs. Washington

Saturday, September 14th – at Soldier Field; Chicago, Illinois

  • Kickoff – 5:00 p.m. (CST)
  • Television – BTN
  • Radio – Fighting Illini Radio Network | Sirius/XM Radio (92/196)
  • Weather – Sunny, 58-70 degrees, 0% precipitation (via accuweather).
  • Odds – Huskies are listed as 10-point favorites (via oddsshark).

Quick History

  • 10th meeting, Huskies lead series (5-4).
  • This year is the 50th anniversary of Illinois’ 1964 Rose Bowl victory over the Huskies, an Illini squad that was led by Chicago-born Illini legends Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski.
  • The two programs are 2-2 in games played in Champaign, while Washington holds a 3-1 margin in Seattle. The Illini notched a 17-7 win in the 1964 Rose Bowl. Illinois will travel to Seattle in the third week of 2014 for a Sept. 13 tilt at Husky Stadium.

Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Beckman On receiving votes in both the AP and coaches’ polls:

“I wasn’t even aware. We’re just worried about one game at a time and we know we get the opportunity to play a very good football team in Washington and that’s all we’re worried about right nowl, Tuesday, and then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and of course, Washington.”

Beckman On creating depth on the defensive line:

“Well, I think it’s needed. We need to make sure that we’re playing players. I know that at the outside linebacker and star positions, we played six players this last ballgame. Smoot got in there as a freshman, Finney was back so we got Finney to be the STAR along with B.J. Bello and Mike Svetine. Inside, we’ve got Teko Powell, who will continue to get better and better with more reps. Remember, he was not redshirted, so he’s just a sophomore and didn’t play a whole bunch of reps last year. Austin Teitsma and Jake Howe continue to provide stability, then you’ve got to get Bain in there and you try to improve the defensive front each game.”

Beckman On the difference in the running game:

“Again, I think that [the SIU game] was the first opportunity to play under this system of Coach Cubit’s and as we perform, we get better each week. I think as you look at, we really hit them with some outside runs early in the Cincinnati game. Which, of course, with the pass success we were having, of course stretches the defense a little bit more. In all, as a head football coach as I look at that film, I think our offense did a great job of utilizing different looks and being able to establish the pass really first before that run really became effective.”

Beckman On playing at Soldier Field:

“Not everybody gets to do this. I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity for any student-athlete to go in and say they got to play a college football game in the Orange and Blue at Soldier Field. I know this is one of things we want to continue to do as a program because it’s a unique experience, an experience that college football gives a young man and it just happens to be in our state and in one of our cities, so we’re excited about going up to Chicago.”

Three Keys to Victory

  • The key to the game has got to be the offense. This season the Illini have thrived on the offensive side of the ball and I do not expect this game to be any different. The running game has been able to find holes with the help of the line. The receivers have found running lanes after making great catches. The quarterback has found his receivers, and more importantly, runs when he has to, not because he can. They have found ways to score, and score at will. If the Illini are able to continue the trend of jumping out to a lead and holding their opponents at bay, the Illini could find themselves continuing an improbable season and end up at 3-0 heading in to their bye week. (Austin)
  • The key for the Illini against the Huskies is to stop the big play. Both of the Huskies passing touchdowns were of 18+ yards. The Illini need to make sure the Huskies do not get behind the defense. Give some cushion and play tight in the middle. (Rees)
  • Score more points than them. No, but seriously, this game has the potential to be a shootout if the Illini offense continues to fire on all cylinders, and firing on all cylinders is exactly what is going to have to happen for the Illini to pull off the upset. The offense is going to run into a much stiffer test against a Huskies defense that returns 8 of their top 9 tacklers from last years #31 ranked unit in total overall defense than they did last week against the Bearcats and their porous pass defense. (Ryan)

Gameday Thoughts

  • The Illinois offense has been catching teams off guard this season. Last week, it looked like Cincinnati underestimated the Illini offense and they ended up having a big day against the Bearcats. Bill Cubit is having success early in Champaign. Let’s see if that can continue in Chicago.
  • This will most likely be Illinois’ most important game of the season. Northwestern has been calling themselves “Chicago’s Big Ten team” and this is Illinois chance to rock their Chicago boat. The Illini need to show Chicago recruits that their is a new dog in town and that they will have better success in Champaign than in Evanston.

Injury Report

The only player that Illini fans can expect to not see today is OL Tony Durkin. Durkin has an undisclosed injury that will most likely keep him out for the entire season.

Prediction

Not only is the Chicago Homecoming game the most important non-conference game for Illinois, but it could be seen as the most important game of their season as well. Illinois and Northwestern have always fought over the city of Chicago and Northwestern even calls themselves, “Chicago’s Big Ten team.” On top of that, Illinois have a chance to win more games than they did a year ago after their first three games of the season. With a win this week, Illinois could also break into the AP Top 25.

Final Score: Illinois 38, Washington 35

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Tags: Chicago Homecoming Football Illinois Fighting Illini Soldier Field Washington Huskies

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