Penn State at Illinois
Speaking of roast goose, the air in Champaign-Urbana is starting to smell a little, um, fowl. I could tell you the atmosphere around Illini football is a touch toxic, or you could go read this piece at Black Heart Gold Pants and see for yourself.
Illinois needs to win out in order to make a bowl game, and that may be the only thing that saves Tim Beckman’s job. (Maybe. Historically Illinois has been very patient with football coaches; Ron Turner and Ron Zook got a combined 15 seasons, after all.) Winning out means winning this game. Stopping Penn State’s offense won’t be too tall an order. Heck, everybody’s done it this year. But moving the ball against the Nits’ wood-chipper defense is another story.
I think Illinois’ best bet is to just be insanely aggressive early in an effort to throw Penn State’s defense off balance. Some games come down to the final play; I think this is one of those games that will be decided in the first quarter. Possibly even on Illinois’ first possession. If that possession leads to points of any sort (except points for Penn State, of course) then the Illini have a chance. A sustained drive that yields no points isn’t necessarily a bad omen. Three and out? Buh-bye.
So what’s going to happen?
You really think Illinois can suddenly find some offensive spurs in Week 13 on what figures to be a cold and crappy day? I don’t.
The pick: Penn State 17, Illinois 7