Minnesota is tied for the Big Ten West lead, hosting Illinois in search of 1st win over Bielema
Thu, Nov 2, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (AP) - Illinois (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) at Minnesota (5-3, 3-2), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Line: Minnesota by 2 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Minnesota leads 40-32-3.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
The Illini are coming off their bye week, given double the time to process their homecoming collapse against Wisconsin on Oct. 21 when the Badgers scored 18 straight points in the fourth quarter for a 25-21 win. After starting 7-1 last season, Illinois has lost nine of its last 11 games against power conference opponents. The Illini still have a realistic path to reaching a bowl game that would give the program back-to-back appearances for the first time since 2010-2011.
The Gophers are part of a four-way tie for first in the Big Ten West Division after consecutive victories over Iowa and Michigan State. They need one more win for bowl eligibility but have their sights set higher than that. Minnesota has lost both games to Illinois since coach Bret Bielema was hired after losing all seven times to Wisconsin when he was the coach there from 2006-2012.
Illinois defensive line vs. Minnesota offensive line. Illini defensive tackle Johnny Newton, a projected top-10 NFL draft pick next year, must sit out the first half for a targeting foul against Wisconsin. Newton is tied for the FBS lead with 31 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus data. Keith Randolph Jr. leads all FBS defensive tackles with an average of 5.5 tackles per game. The Gophers are fourth in the Big Ten with an average of 174.5 rushing yards per game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Illinois: Kicker Caleb Griffin. He's the first player in program history with two game-winning field goals in one season, with a 43-yarder to beat Maryland as time expired and a 29-yarder with 5 seconds left to take the lead on Toledo. Griffin also ended the first half with a 53-yarder in a loss to Purdue.
Minnesota: Running back Jordan Nubin. The third-year sophomore had 40 carries for 204 yards and two touchdowns against the Spartans in his first career start with the top three tailbacks, Darius Taylor, Zach Evans and Bryce Williams, all out with injuries. Nubin, who came to the program as walk-on safety - the position his older brother, Tyler Nubin, stars at for the Gophers - and had only 15 career carries entering the game, had the most rushing attempts for a Minnesota player since Mohamed Ibrahim (41) in 2020.
FACTS & FIGURES
Illinois has not won three straight games against Minnesota since 1993-95. ... Isaiah Williams (Illinois) and Daniel Jackson (Minnesota) are tied for third in the Big Ten with 26 first-down receptions, trailing Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr. (34) and Penn State's KeAndre Lambert-Smith (27). ... Kaden Feagin leads all Big Ten freshmen with an average of 4.9 yards per rush for the Illini. He has yet to take a loss in 67 carries. ... Illinois is last in the conference with an average of 396 yards allowed per game. The Illini ranked second in total defense in the Big Ten behind Iowa last year. ... Minnesota's Dragan Kesich leads the conference with 16 made field goals. He has missed three.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll"