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Minnesota Football: Gophers Host Illinois Looking to Get First Big Ten Win - OPEN THREAD

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Homecoming for Minnesota with Illinois the opponent

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Fighting Illini are incredibly young and struggling mightily this season. The Gophers have a 3-game losing streak and look to get back in the win column on Homecoming.

3 KEYS

  • Run the Ball - Time to get back to running the ball and owning the line of scrimmage. This Fighting Illini defense is last in the Big Ten in rushing defense giving up just under 200 yards per game on the ground. If the Gophers are serious about running the ball as an identity, this is the game to reestablish that.
  • The Ball is the Program - Take care of the ball, giving Illinois extra possessions or short fields is exactly what will give them life. This is a game the Gophers should win and limiting stupid turnovers will greatly help them accomplish this win.
  • Get to the Quarterback - Illinois has struggled finding a quarterback they can trust. Combined they have thrown 11 interceptions. I’d like to see pressure on the quarterback and forcing some more picks.

OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • RB - Mike Epstein - Team’s leading rusher. We’ve kind of sucked against the run lately and Epstein leads the team in carries and yards, and is sporting a 6.1 yard per carry average.
  • LB - Del'Shawn Phillips - Junior linebacker who leads the team in tackles. Not exactly a kid who is game-changing, but worth watching and getting a body on.

PREDICTION

A couple of 0-3 teams in the Big Ten West, but I think it would be fairly surprising for the Gophers to drop this one. I predict a win.

Minnesota - 31
Illinois - 20