With each passing day, we are getting closer and closer to Illinois football in 2014. Even though the Fighting Illini improved their overall record in 2013, fans are just as anxious leading into the 2014 campaign. This is because the Orange & Blue are close to returning to the postseason, and many fans want to see the Illini earn a bowl bid in 2014.
The next game on our schedule preview for the 2014 season is the team’s Big Ten home opener against the Purdue Boilermakers.
2013 Record: 1-11 (0-8 in the Big Ten)
Key Losses: RT Justin Kitchens, LT Kevin Pamphile, CB Ricardo Allen, DT Bruce Gaston, DE Greg Latta, P Cody Webster, LB Will Lucas
Key Returners: QB Danny Etling, RB Akeem Hunt, WR DeAngelo Yancey, TE Justin Sinz, S Anthony Brown, LB Sean Robinson
Player to Watch: QB Danny Etling
This preview seems eerily similar to the Texas State schedule preview. Just like the Bobcats, Purdue has a quarterback entering his sophomore season after a sub par freshman campaign. Danny Etling played in just eight games for the Boilermakers last season after replacing former starter Rob Henry in the first half of the NIU game. In his eight games, Etling threw for 1,690 yards, ten touchdowns, and seven interceptions. His best game came in the team’s season finale against Indiana where he threw for 485 yards, four touchdowns, and had his highest QBR of the season at 70.7. If Purdue is going to improve from their one win in 2013, they will need better and more consistent play from the QB position.
Prediction: Illinois 38 – Purdue 21
After suffering their first loss of the season against the Cornhuskers, the Fighting Illini will bounce back at home against Purdue. Danny Etling and Akeem Hunt will put up a better performance than they did a year ago, but the Purdue defense will not be able to contain the Illinois passing attack. If Boiler Nation thought Steve Hull was good, just wait until they get a look at Geronimo Allison, Raphael Barr, Martize Barr, Mike Dudek, and possibly Malik Turner! Oh yea! How could we forget about Josh Ferguson as a receiver out of the backfield? The Tim Beckman doubters will get a little bit quieter, as the Orange & Blue will be one win away from a bowl bid following this victory.
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