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Minnesota Football vs. Illinois: Preview - A must win game for the Gophers

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If the Gophers want to assure themselves a chance at a bowl game then they had better beat Illinois.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Opening Thoughts

Can I make a confession? My feelings coming into this Illinois game we can be summed up like this...

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I just...I can't raise any sort of feelings. Good, bad, or otherwise. It's a game on the schedule. It's a game I pretty much expect Minnesota to win (even in a season like this where I honestly can't be sure of that because of inconsistency and injury). Even a nonexistent place like Purdue managed to draw forth a little more feeling from me than Illinois. I can't explain it. I can only assume it has to do with the fact that Tim Beckman got himself fired for being a terrible person and he was the sole source of my feelings (mostly based in mockery) for Illinois.

Gnome #TAKES

I was emailed the following picture when asked for thoughts on Illinois.

Congrats Illinois, you're the plain bagel of the Big Ten.

When/Where

Date: 11/21/15

Kickoff Time: 11 AM CST

Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Watch/Listen

TV: ESPN News*

*Yes, the channel that many of you don't get and that many of the people who do have it don't get in HD. The channel so far down the cable sports purgatory that you'd gladly endure a Matt Millen called BTN game to avoid being on it.

Streaming Video: WatchESPN

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

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

Satellite Radio: SiriusXM 196; Sirius 136; XM196

Odds

Spread: Minnesota by 4.5 to 5, depending on the site.

Over/Under: 46.5 to 47, depending on the site

Bill C's S&P+ Pick

Game Spread
(Home)
Proj. Winner Proj. Margin Win Prob. Pick
(Spread)
Illinois at Minnesota -4.5
Minnesota (25.7-21.4)
4.3
59.8% Illinois

S&P doesn't even see us covering, if that gives you a sense of why I've loathe to call this a lock as a victory.

Weather Forecast

Well, at least it's sunny!

weather

The Enemy

Where Are They From? The barren wastelands of central Illinois, otherwise known as the least favorite part of my trip any time I've ever had to drive from Madison to Cincy (or vice versa).

All Time Series: Minnesota leads the series 35-29-3. In other news, that's closer than I remembered.

all time IL 15

Last Season: About that...

That image sums up Minnesota's health leading into the game, our collective reaction as a fanbase when the game was over, and what Illinois fans think about when the ponder all the reasons Beckman should have been fired at the end of last season.

2015 To Date: 5-5 (2-4 Big Ten). If possible, that record is probably generous compared to how the team has played as the season has moved on.

Interim Head Coach: Bill Cubit, who we should all hope gets hired at Illinois because the fanbase freakout over the move will probably be fun to watch.

Keys to the Game

- You complete me: A game where the offense, defense, and special teams show up. I'm not even saying all 3 need to play great, but all 3 are present with at least an ok level of play. I wonder what that would look like? Probably pretty glorious against Illinois. We could use that. So maybe make that happen, yes?

- Limit your own mistakes and capitalize on any by Illinois: Don't put yourself behind schedule with penalties on offense. And if you force a turnover turn it into points. No empty possessions when you have the chance to break the game open.

- Be hungry: Make the Wisconsin game about something more than getting the Axe back.

How Afraid Am I?

For those who don't know, this is a bit where I rank my fear by saying how many Tim Brewsters I am afraid of the opponent. The more Tim Brewsters I list, the more afraid I am...because the memory of Timmy Brew is scary for all Gophers fans. Typically this is done on a scale of 1 to 5 "Brewsters on his face" in the Metrodome, though I mix it up as needed.

Brew 1

I should be more afraid of Illinois because Minnesota is not a juggernaut. But I refuse to fear a plain bagel.

Completely Worthless Prediction

Time to set up the "Beat Wisconsin and go bowling!" scenario. I'm going to trust in our offense. Please don't make a fool out of me.

Minnesota 31 - Illinois 17

Make Your Own Prediction