Illinois vs. Purdue prediction and game preview. Projecting who will win when the Fighting Illini host the Boilermakers on Saturday.
Illinois vs. Purdue Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Ill.
TV Broadcast: Big Ten Network
First-year coach Lovie Smith knew it was going to take some time to rebuild the Illinois program. That doesn’t mean he’s likely any less frustrated after the Fighting Illini fell to 0-3 against FBS competition with last week’s 31-16 loss at now-No. 12 Nebraska. They did play their best game in three weeks, though, and led by six points going into the fourth quarter before giving up 21 unanswered.
But for as tough as Smith’s had it in his first season in Champaign so far, things are even worse for embattled Purdue coach Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers dropped to 2-2 after getting crushed by Maryland, 50-7, last week. They finished with 10 rushing yards and a season-low 205 overall, while giving up 400 on the ground alone.
What to Know About Illinois
The Illini have scored 26 points over their last two games, and that’s simply not going to cut it. Wes Lunt finished 13 of 22 for 133 yards against Nebraska as Illinois went with more conservative play-calling with the team ahead late. Lunt attempted 42 passes the previous week in a 24-point loss to Western Michigan. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Lunt’s becoming confused about his role and the trust in his arm given the disparity in attempts.
Hardy Nickerson Jr. – his father is the defensive coordinator – is one of the Big Ten’s top linebackers and ranks third in the conference in tackles per game with 9.75. Still, Illinois has given up an average of 440.7 yards over its last three contests.
What to Know About Purdue
Hazell’s seat is probably the hottest in the country, and there’s no telling when Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski will send him out the door. His record stands at 8-32 in three-plus seasons and patience is wearing thin amongst the fan base. A loss to Illinois could be the end of the road.
Last week marked the 18th time during Hazell’s tenure that the Boilermakers have finished with fewer than 300 yards, and they’ve lost 17 of those games. David Blough finished 18 of 41 passing and is completing just 56.1 percent of his throws on the season.
Offense: Illinois – Lunt is better when he’s let loose.
Defense: Illinois – Purdue ranks 13th in the Big Ten in yards allowed per game.
Special Teams: Purdue – Illinois is allowing allowing 26.1 yards per kickoff return, second-most in the conference.
Coaching: Illinois – Hazell won’t be getting the edge here until there’s vast improvement.
Intangibles: Illinois – Lunt threw three touchdown passes and Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for 180 yards in last year’s 48-14 win over Purdue.
Matchup To Watch
Lunt vs. Purdue’s defense
Smith would be wise to give Lunt more attempts in this one. Purdue is having trouble containing any offense, and Lunt would be able to pick the Boilermakers apart.
Spread: Illinois -10.5
Illinois vs. Purdue Prediction
Lunt and the rushing attack have big games just like last year, Blough throws two interceptions and the Illini hand Hazell yet another defeat.
Illinois vs. Purdue final score prediction: Illinois 24, Purdue 13