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Minnesota Football: Three keys to beating Illinois and how to watch the Gophers on Saturday

3 keys to beating the #24 Illini

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last season it was a bad loss to Illinois. This year the Illini are ranked and at home with a really good defense. Can the Gophers get a win and get back on track to winning the West?

How to Watch

Time: 11:00
Stream: FoxSports app/website

Both of these teams are elite defensively. Both are allowing fewer than 9 points per game and are atop the Big Ten in virtually all defensive categories. Both teams also run the ball and subsequently lead the Big Ten in time of possession. Something will have to give on Saturday.


  • Find offense - I am more scared of this Illini defense than I have been for an Illini defense in my lifetime. Braelon Allen of Wisconsin is an incredibly talented back who was held to 2 yards in their 34-10 win over the Badgers. This team is not the same caliber team we have seen out of Champaign in several years. Key #1 is clearly to find some way to move the ball and score points. It may have to start with Tanner Morgan’s arm.
  • Stop Chase Brown - Not to forget that we also have a really good defense. But Chase Brown is an excellent running back that we have to contain. I am not as worried about the Illini passing game, so slowing Brown is imperative.
  • Turnovers - It is cliche, but it is so true. Especially true when both teams are so similar. Both teams want to control the ball and eat the clock. Forcing turnovers helps to control the ball and more importantly it helps to win field position.


  • #2 RB - Chase Brown - Brown will be a first or second team All-Big Ten back and has 151 carries already this season. The Canadian will be featured and needs to be stopped.
  • #94 DL - Jer’Zhan Newton - Before last week’s game he led the nation in quarterback pressures. This guy could be a problem.


In my staff predictions, I picked a Gopher loss. But as usually happens with each passing day of the week I gain confidence that the Gophers will win. (hey, at least I didn’t predict 2 different scores in the same staff predictions post).

If we can stop the run, I think the Gophers win this game. Minnesota is more balanced. Wisconsin couldn’t move the ball, Iowa cannot move the ball, but I think the Gopher offense will be able to move the ball more against this very good defense.

It really may come down to one big defensive or special team’s play. But if this game is a grinder, Minnesota wins.

Minnesota - 17
Illinois - 16