Illinois Preview

Submitted by The Mathlete on November 5th, 2010 at 8:15 AM

The Mathlete vs The Big House

Saturday will be my first game day at Michigan Stadium and although I went through a period of mourning after last Saturday, I couldn’t be more excited right now. I am bringing my dad along and although he isn’t necessarily a Michigan fan, he acknowledges the greatness of The Victors, the Maize and Blue and shares a hatred of Notre Dame. Any game day advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully I can contribute some good luck to get the 6th win monkey off our back on Saturday.

On to the preview.

Rush Offense vs Illinois

Michigan Off: +7, 2nd nationally, 1st in Big 10

Illinois Def: +4, 3rd nationally, 2nd Big 10 (Iowa)

Key Players

Denard Robinson: +8 rushing, 1st nationally all positions

Vincent Smith: -0, 13th in Big 10


Illinois lines up as another top-notch rush defense opponent for Michigan. Before losing Denard against Iowa, Michigan managed to hold up quite well against the only rush defense in the Big Ten better than Illinois (Iowa is now #1 nationally). Illinois’s one below average game was Indiana getting 50 yards on 16 carries before the game got out of hand. Indiana’s average is really bad. Illinois should provide another strong challenge for Michigan who is still looking for someone besides Denard to help carry the load. If someone can step up, Michigan could still get a good advantage here. If they don’t Denard will probably still get his yards but the carries will start to add up.

Pass Offense vs Illinois

Michigan Off: +4, 17th, 2nd

Illinois Def: +2, 42nd, 5th

Key Players

Denard Robinson: +4 passing, 7th in Big 10

Junior Hemingway: +4, 13th

Roy Roundtree: +4, 14th

Darryl Stonum: +2, 18th


Michigan’s edge here comes almost entirely from its early season success. Illinois has had strong performances against Ohio St and Indiana and mostly average against everyone else. If Denard can find his early season success it could help free up some of the pressure on his carries but at this point in the season it seems as though his performance through the air has regressed.

Rush Defense vs Illinois

Michigan Def: –3, 110th, 11th

Illinois Off: +1, 44th, 4th

Key Players

Mikel LeShoure: +0, 11th

Nathan Scheelhaase: +2, 15th nationally among QBs


Michigan has gotten gashed two of its last three games but Illinois only has one strong game on the season and that came back in September against MAC foe Northern Illinois.

Maybe Michigan has a chance to not get killed on the ground this weekend but at this point I am preparing for the worst until given a reason not to.

Pass Offense vs Illinois

Michigan Def: –4, 109th, 10th

Illinois Off: –1, 75th, 9th

Nathan Scheelhaase: +2, 9th in Big 10

Jarred Fayson: +2, 19th


Illinois’s pass offense has been all or nothing and Michigan’s pass defense has just been nothing. Last Saturday saw the worst showing of the year and Michigan’s sole above average game was in 2 months ago with a starter out for nearly a half. Illinois doesn’t have a lot of volume through the air, so Michigan has that going for them. The Illini put up big passing numbers against Penn St and Purdue but have mostly struggled in limited attempts against everyone else.

Maybe Michigan has a chance to not get killed through the air this weekend but at this point I am preparing for the worst until given a reason not to.

Special Teams

Michigan: –1, 106th, 10th

Illinois: +3, 19th, 2nd

Michigan Punts: Big advantage Michigan

Illinois Punts: Big advantage Illinois

Michigan KO: Slight advantage Illinois

Illinois KO: Big advantage Illinois

Kickers: Huge advantage Illinois (#6 in country) but at least we made a FG last week


The one advantage we have is the one special team you don’t want to be using. Like Penn St last week, the advantage Michigan has is that Illinois isn’t a huge threat to break big returns. Everyone talks about Michigan’s special teams issues but the only one that really matters for the 2010 Michigan team is the kicker since field position has been largely irrelevant for both our offense and defense.

Predictions that will almost certainly lose you money

Illinois 39 Michigan 35

Hopefully Vegas and the Michigan –3 line know something I don’t, which they likely do. Illinois is one of the top 10 in smallest standard deviation of game scores, they have been very consistent. Michigan can’t count on an Illinois let down but should have a good shot if the A game shows up again.

Iowa 45 Indiana 21 – Indiana is just Indiana

Michigan St 37 Minnesota 17 – Michigan St takes advantage of a nice break to get things right

Penn St 27 Northwestern 10 – Penn St keeps it going

Wisconsin 34 Purdue 21 – May be an optimistic total for Purdue’s offense

TCU 28 Utah 24 – TCU finally gives up a few points but stays undefeated

LSU 21 Alabama 20 – The highly precise numbers were LSU 20.1 Alabama 19.6, should be a very close game and a good chance for some late game Les Miles magic

Can’t wait to be at Michigan Stadium on Saturday!



November 5th, 2010 at 9:44 AM ^

I wish you would have posted earlier that it would be your first game day at the stadium. I just gave away my club seat tix for the game. I would have gladly given them to someone who has contributed so much to this board. It would have made things just a little more special (perhaps). In any case, enjoy the game and next year post early about going to the game. if I still have my tix and I can help out, I will.

Young Pretty a…

November 5th, 2010 at 9:44 AM ^

Illinois D has played very well, but they have yet to face a monster that is Denard Robinson.  Hopefully Mike Shaw can go, I think he will produce more than what V Smith has been.

Go Blue


November 5th, 2010 at 10:18 AM ^

Illinois has held every team they've faced this season well below their season averages in both yards and points.  Offensively, this might be Michigan's toughest challenge yet.  You could make the case that the Illinois defense is just as good as Iowa's. 


Rich Rod needs to be aggressive early.  Our offensive numbers are great, but I feel that too much of the production is coming late in the game, with our opponents in prevent or slow down mode.   Open up the playbook in the first quarter and get them off balance.  I would like to see our offense really put together a complete game ala UConn.

03 Blue 07

November 5th, 2010 at 12:15 PM ^

Dude, Mathlete, I am so impressed that someone like you who has such clearly devoted and fanatical fandom without having ever gotten the chance to go to the Big House. Have a blast,  man, and you are a true fan. Oh, and thanks for all of your posts.

The NUTcracker

November 5th, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

Tailgate at the golf course. Makes the trip complete in my book, if you like to drink and socialize. I drove from Iowa with a mixed group of UM/Iowa fans for the Iowa game. Had been to the Big House for football games but had not tailgated. Was a great time. Enjoy the game and thanks for all the great posts


November 5th, 2010 at 2:25 PM ^

that will be a significant achievement. I don't see us holding Illinois under 50....they still want revenge for the 70 we laid on them in 1981.


November 6th, 2010 at 12:56 AM ^

We'll have to agree to disagree on that Northwestern/Penn State outcome

You guys will have a blast tomorrow, look us up if you can,  here's hoping you are our good luck charm tomorrow!!


November 6th, 2010 at 4:19 PM ^

Hey Mathlete,

Hope you had a great day at the Big House. For a first experience, you could not have asked for more drama. Love your previews and since I always rely on them I was very nervous about the game today. But the Blue team found a way to be one play better and I'm sure you don't mind missing this prediction!

Go Blue!