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Minnesota Game Preview

by Adam Frank, KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on November 11, 2009 at 8:35 AM

Game 9: Illinois (2-6, 1-5) at Minnesota (5-4, 3-3) - TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.
Kickoff: 11am CT
TV: ABC (Play-by-Play: Matt Rosen, Expert Analysts: Ron Johnson, Sideline: Ron Johnson)
Weather: 58 degrees
All-Time Series Notes: 63rd meeting. Minnesota leads 32-27-3 overall and leads 19-11-2 in games played in Minnesota.
Fun Facts: With the win last week against Michigan, Ron Zook is the first coach since Ray Elliot in the late 1950s to beat Michigan in back-to-back seasons.

Illinois Probable Starters

QB 7 Juice Williams (Sr)
RB 5 Mikel Leshoure (Soph)
WR 19 Jack Ramsey (Fr)
WR 9 Arrelious Benn (Jr)
WR 8 A.J. Jenkins (Soph)
WR 15 Chris Duvalt (Sr) or 17 Jeff Cumberland (Sr)
TE 16 Michael Hoomanawanui (Sr)
LT 71 Jeff Allen (Soph)
LG 66 Randall Hunt (Sr)
C 62 Eric Block (Sr)
RG 52 Jon Asamoah (Sr)
RT 72 Hugh Thornton (Fr)
K 84 Matt Eller (Soph)

DE 95 Doug Pilcher (Sr)
DT 92 Josh Brent (Jr)
DT 93 Corey Liuget (Soph)
DE 97 Clay Nurse (Jr)
LB 38 Ian Thomas (Soph)
LB 51 Evan Frierson (Fr)
LB 33 Russell Ellington (Soph)
CB 28 Dere Hicks (Sr)
SS 4 Donsay Hardeman (Sr) or 15 Walt Aikens (Fr)
FS 20 Garrett Edwards (Jr)
CB 12 Terry Hawthorne (Fr) or 3 Tavon Wilson (Soph)
P 87 Anthony Santella (Jr)

Minnesota Probable Starters

QB 8 Adam Weber (Jr)
RB 22 Duane Bennett (Soph)
FB 35 Jon Hoese (Jr)
WR 83 Da'Jon McKnight (Jr)
WR 11 Terry Stoudermire (Soph)
WR 1 Brandon Green (Soph)
TE 48 Nick Tow-Arnett (Sr)
LT 76 Dom Alford (Jr)
LG 68 Chris Bunders (Soph)
C 53 D.J. Burris (Jr)
RG 73 Matt Carufel (Jr)
RT 71 Jeff Wills (Jr)
K 37 Eric Ellestad (Jr)

DE 89 Barrett Moen (Sr)
DT 99 Garrett Brown (Sr)
NT 98 Eric Small (Sr)
DE 55 Cedric McKinley (Sr)
LB 21 Simoni Lawrence (Sr)
LB 30 Lee Campbell (Sr)
LB 32 Nate Triplett (Sr)
CB 15 Traye Simmons (Sr)
SS 27 Kyle Theret (Jr)
FS 3 Kim Royston (Jr)
CB 24 Marcus Sherels (Sr)
P 38 Blake Hauden (Sr)

5 Keys for Illinois

1. Keep feeding Leshoure

The sophomore from Champaign has been a revelation through eight games and has clearly established himself as the go-to running back on the clan. Mikel Leshoure's big game against Michigan invoked memories of another running back who wore #5 not too long ago. Give Leshoure the ball twenty times again and let him make things happen.

2 Rush, rush, rush

The pass rush looked great in the second half last Saturday. Clay Nurse and Doug Pilcher finally found ways to get in the backfield albeit against a struggling Michigan offensive line. Maybe that's just what the defensive line unit needed to get the ball rolling. Corey Liuget is coming off an All-Big Ten type performance as well. Get in Adam Weber's face and Illinois wins this one.

3. Juiceeeeeeeeee

The senior quarterback had his best game since October in Ann Arbor this past Saturday. If Juice Williams can hold onto the ball and simplify things for himself by making the safe pass, the Illini offense will continue to thrive. Glad to see Williams run off the field with a victory. He deserved it.

4. Payback

I think it's safe to say that Minnesota started the downward spiral for Illinois with an upset victory in Champaign last October. After routing Michigan on the road, Illinois came back home with a 3-2 record and the toughest part of their schedule behind them. On Homecoming, Minnesota allowed over 500 yards on defense but managed to force three key turnovers and held the Illini with a goal-line stand, very reminiscent of Illinois' against Michigan last week. Minnesota used the win to jolt their season en route to a bowl bid. If the Illini can sneak out a win in Minneapolis, maybe the Champaign folks can dream of a bowl themselves.

5. Gopher threats

Even without star receiver Eric Decker (out for season - knee), Minnesota still boasts an impressive receving corps. Tight end Nick Tow-Arnett is coming off a huge game a week ago against Michigan State while Illinois native Brandon Green, Terry Stoudermire, Da'Jon McKnight, and Hayo Carpenter have the ability to bust a big play. Whether it be Weber or MarQueis Gray, the Illini are going to need to bring the pressure to limit the pass game. Duane Bennett had a 100-yard performance in Champaign last year and will be ready to go again.

Key Matchup

Illinois' running back Mikel Leshoure vs. Minnesota's Front Seven

Leshoure has become the biggest offensive weapon on the field for Illinois and needs to have another 100-yard performance if the Illini plan on leaving Minneapolis with a victory. The ground game allowed Juice Williams to settle down and get his arm going and it will be imperative for that to continue against Minnesota. The tough Minnesota front seven, headed by defensive tackle Garrett Brown (the reigning defensive player of the week in the Big Ten) and middle linebacker Lee Campbell, is made up entirely of seniors.

Predictions

Adam Frank: Illinois 28-24
Dan Fredman: Illinois 24-20
Josh Keller: Minnesota 24-21
 

 

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