3. Illinois will continue to self-destruct by turning the ball over.
One thing that was relatively surprising last weekend against the Spartans was how many times they turned the ball over. Spartans’ quarterback Brian Lewerke had just five interceptions all season. They ended up turning the ball over three times to the Bucks which was one of the major factors in allowing the Bucks to take a big lead.
The Bucks aren’t quite the turnover machines that they were last season but they still know how to cash in when given the opportunity. Last weekend the Spartans learned why turning the ball over against the Bucks isn’t the brightest idea.
The Illini have a much bigger problem with turnovers as their quarterback situation is a mess as referenced earlier. All three of the Illini quarterbacks have combined for 17 interceptions on the season which would be the most of any team. This is also over twice as much as the total number of touchdowns the Illini have thrown this season.
There isn’t much that the Illini can do at this point though considering their quarterback situation and their starting running back out for the season. They do have a bright spot in leading receiver Ricky Smalling but getting him the ball will prove to be another issue. Bucks’ defensive back Denzel Ward will likely be his defender which doesn’t bode well for his chances.
The Illini have struggled badly on offense this season and it will not get much better against the Bucks. There have been noticeable inconsistencies in the Bucks’ defense this season but their upside and overall talent cannot be ignored. Expect the Bucks to capitalize on the mistakes of the Illini in a big way on Saturday.