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Minnesota at Illinois Preview: Week 9 - The Chance To Reach Something Bigger

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4-0 in the Big Ten? Only Illinois stands between Minnesota and that special step forward.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Thoughts

It would be easy to overlook the Illini. Let's face it, every one of us wants to do that. They're extremely weak at defending the run. Their starting quarterback is injured. Their coach is a buffoon who is going to be fired soon. I mean, why shouldn't we overlook them?
Those among us who remember games like Indiana 2004 have to fight the urge to fear a lesser team who the Gophers are facing on the road. We've seen the pitfalls and heartbreak before and we don't want to experience it again. Here's the thing though. This isn't a 2004 Glen Mason coached Gophers team. This is a 2014 Jerry Kill team. A team that can make defensive adjustments. Heck, a team that can play defense. It's time to move past fearing a team like Illinois though. This is a new day.
Does that mean we overlook them? No. But it should mean that we see them for what they are, a team that can defeat Minnesota (because the Gophers are still a flawed team) but one that Minnesota SHOULD beat (because they're much more flawed than Minnesota).

Gnome #TAKES

Zombie Gnome
With no Halloween game this year, I invited our friend the Zombie Gnome to stop by a little early. What does ZG think of Illinois? He's going to steal a bit from The Champaign Room because he loves it so much.
Is that meant to refer to Illinois or just Tim Beckman? I dunno, does it really matter?

Light Pre-Preview Reading

TDG Links

Models & Bottles - Purdue

Throwback Thursday - Exorcising The Gray Ghost

Gophers Depth Chart - Week 9

Tim Beckman and Nike Make New Uniforms Happen

Enemy Links

Previewing Minnesota

TCR Predictions Thread

Q&A with The Daily Gopher
Game Poster: The Return of the Galloping Ghost (You MUST check this out, it's really well done)
An Interview with Carl Spackler

When/Where

Date: Saturday, October 25th

Kickoff Time: 11 AM CT

Where: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL

Watch/Listen

TV: ESPNU

Streaming Video: WatchESPN (or the WatchESPN app for your mobile device)

Radio: KFAN (100.3 in the Twin Cities) and the Gopher Radio Network (Radio Affiliates).

Streaming Audio: Locate KFAN on IHeartRadio (or the IHeartRadio app for your mobile device)

Satellite Radio: SiriusXM 195; Sirius 113; XM 195

Odds

Spread: Minnesota by 5.5-6

O/U: 55.5-56

Weather Forecast:

For the tailgate:

ILL tailgate

At kickoff:

ILL game

For the postgame party:

ILL postgame

Cool and sunny. Sounds like a perfect day for a football game!

THE ENEMY

Where Are They From? Champaign-Urbana, IL

University of Illinois Map

All Time Series: MN leads 35-28-3

Last Game: 17-3 win by Minnesota at Illinois in 2012. Otherwise known as the game where MN got bowl eligible for the first time under Kill.

SB Nation Blog: The Champaign Room
Last Season: 4-8 (1-7 Big Ten...the lone win was over Purdue)
2014 Season to Date:

3-4 (0-3 Big Ten), with a pretty bad loss to Purdue mixed in there.

Head Coach: Tim Brewster Tim Beckman - Final year, dead man walking

Players to Watch:

1) Aaron Bailey (QB - Sophomore): I've got no stats to back this up. Illini fans are hanging what seems like all of their hopes on Bailey. The hopes being thrown at him are pretty large, with the general feeling seeming to be that a game where Riley O'Toole is the starter is automatically a loss. So I guess we'll see?

2) Mason Monheim (LB - Junior): 2nd on the team in tackles and third in tackles for loss. Lets face it, if Illinois is going to beat Minnesota they need to stop the run. Monheim will be key to that.

3) The rest of the defense. Seriously, Illinois has to stop Minnesota to win.

Keys to the Game:

- Make Purdue Illinois pay for stacking the box. Using this again? Yep. If Illinois manages to stop the run and Mitch Leidner can't pass? That puts the Illini in a much better spot.

- No turnovers. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say the Illinois MUST force some TO's in order to win. So don't help them.

- RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN. Illinois isn't good against the run. Have fun David!

How Afraid Am I?

On a scale of 1 to 5 "Brewsters on his face" (1 being not a afraid, 5 being very afraid)?

Tim Brewster doesn't fear Tim Beckman. He welcomes him as a brother.

I'm taking my cue from Brew. Minnesota isn't going to lose.

Completely Worthless Prediction:

I don't think Minnesota is a team that blows anyone else out this year. The Gophers will build a lead, sit on it, and gives up late points that makes the final score closer. Minnesota 24 - Illinois 14.