After winning against Youngstown State last weekend, Illinois football is looking to improve to 2-0 for the second straight season as the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers come to Champaign for a tough match-up this weekend.
A Conference USA program, Western Kentucky routed defending MAC champion Bowling Green this past Friday evening 59-31.
One positive aspect is that in four chances, Western Kentucky has not defeated a Big Ten team. That said, this will be the first ever meeting between the schools, and it should be pretty entertaining to watch.
The Hilltoppers started out their FBS tenure going 0-12 against non-conference teams, yet has since gone an impressive 8-3 against non-conference opponents.
Defensively, one of the more difficult tasks for the Illini receivers will be getting away from Jim Thorpe Award Watch List member Cam Thomas.
Thomas was top 20 nationally in passes defended and interceptions a season ago. The Illini will likely look to avoid his side of the field, as this future NFL draftee is tough for any quarterback to challenge.
The Hilltoppers are also one of the younger teams in the nation. Something the Illini can relate to.
With that being said, the Illini offense will need to keep an eye on senior safeties Ricardo Singh and Rico Brown, as they will look to disrupt them and keep them out of any kind of rhythm throughout the game.
A positive to note from Western Kentucky’s throttling of Bowling Green is that their defense was unable to force a single turnover. So, the Illini may be able to find ways to keep the ball in their possession throughout the day.
Prediction: Illinois’ offense plays more like they did in the second half of the Youngstown State game, advancing to 2-0 and winning this game 41-30.
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