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College Football
Minnesota at Illinois
When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, October 25, 2014
Where: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois

In Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Illinois has faced two of the nation’s top five tailbacks during its last three games. After a much-needed bye week to prepare, the Illini get yet another on Saturday when David Cobb and 24th-ranked Minnesota visit for their Homecoming game. “We're going to have to take care of what we take care of and that's swarming to the football and making sure that we tackle and get off blocks,” Illinois coach Tim Beckman said at weekly press conference about facing Cobb, who is fifth in the FBS with 144.7 rushing yards per contest. “That's very important this game.”

It will be a tall order for the Illini, who have lost three straight games and rank last in the Big Ten and 122nd nationally with 271.1 rushing yards allowed per contest. Minnesota, meanwhile, has reeled off four wins since a 30-7 loss to Texas Christian on Sept. 13. The Gophers are averaging 248 rushing yards per game during that streak, with Cobb accounting for 170.3 per contest.

TV: Noon ET, ESPNU. LINE: Minnesota --6.5

ABOUT MINNESOTA (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten): The Gophers are bowl eligible for the third straight season and are 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1990. But it wasn’t easy getting there last week as they had to rally from second-half deficits of 31-20 and 38-29 to outlast visiting Purdue 39-38 on the strength of three touchdowns (two passing) and 249 yards of total offense from quarterback Mitch Leidner. Despite the season-high 38 points allowed, Minnesota still ranks tied for 29th in the FBS with 21.4 points surrendered per contest and is tied for seventh in total takeaways with 18, including a Big Ten-leading 11 interceptions.

ABOUT ILLINOIS (3-4, 0-3): With the Illini struggling to find a rhythm without starting quarterback Wes Lunt, who suffered a broken leg Oct. 4 against Purdue, the team will go to a two-quarterback system Saturday as Reilly O’Toole and Aaron Bailey will both take snaps. Illinois is averaging a Big Ten-best 304.6 passing yards per game – thanks largely to Lunt – but O’Toole and Bailey only combined to go 14-of-24 for 135 yards in their last outing, a 38-28 loss at Wisconsin on Oct. 11. The Illini are also struggling with pass protection (tied for 110th in the FBS with 3.14 sacks allowed per game) and keeping a grip on the ball (tied for 86th with 14 turnovers lost).


1. Minnesota leads the all-time series 35-28-3, including a 17-3 road win in their last meeting in 2012.

2. The Illini will wear “Gray Ghost” alternate uniforms to honor the 90th anniversary of Red Grange’s six-touchdown Homecoming performance against Michigan in 1924.

3. Illinois RB Josh Ferguson is one of only two active FBS backs with more than 1,500 career rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. Arizona State’s D.J. Foster is the other.

PREDICTION: Minnesota 38, Illinois 27

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Minnesota 6-1 W4 28.7 21.4 5-0 1-1 0-1 0-0 3-0
Illinois 3-4 L3 28.6 35.9 3-1 0-3 0-0 0-0 0-3
Last Meeting
Minnesota Illinois
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/10/12 MINN 17 ILL 3 309 231 78 276 101 175
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Minnesota P. Nelson 60.0 78 0 0
Illinois N. Scheelhaase 65.2 175 0 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Minnesota D. Kirkwood 28 152 5.4 2
Illinois D. Young 10 42 4.2 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Minnesota I. Fruechte 3 40 13.3 0
Illinois S. Harris 2 57 28.5 0
Touchdowns Player TD
Minnesota D. Kirkwood 2
Illinois A. Abner 0
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Minnesota M. Leidner 54.1 847 5 5
Illinois W. Lunt 66.1 1569 13 3
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Minnesota D. Cobb 189 1013 5.4 5
Illinois J. Ferguson 87 470 5.4 5
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Minnesota M. Williams 15 247 16.5 4
Illinois M. Dudek 37 598 16.2 3
Touchdowns Player TD
Minnesota M. Leidner 6
Illinois J. Ferguson 7
Quickchart Matchup
Minnesota Off vs  Illinois Def
348.7 yards
484.6 yards
4.8 yards/rush
5.3 yards/rush
7.3 yards/attempt
7.6 yards/attempt
Illinois Off vs  Minnesota Def
409 yards
364.3 yards
3.7 yards/rush
4.3 yards/rush
7.8 yards/attempt
5.5 yards/attempt