FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (60,670) — Champaign, Illinois.
Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Purdue 2-2, Illinois 3-0. Away Record: Purdue
0-0, Illinois 0-2. Neutral Record: Purdue 0-1, Illinois 0-0. Conference
Record: Purdue 0-1, Illinois 0-1. Series Record: Illinois leads, 43-40-6.
GAME NOTES: The Illinois Fighting Illini welcome the Purdue Boilermakers to
Memorial Stadium for a Big Ten Conference clash on Saturday afternoon.
Purdue opened its Big Ten Conference schedule with a 24-10 home loss to Iowa
last weekend. This marks the first true road game of the season for the
Boilermakers, who will play three of their next four in unfriendly confines.
Illinois also lost its conference opener last week at Nebraska, 45-14.
However, the Fighting Illini are 3-0 at home this season.
Illinois won last year’s Cannon Trophy game against Purdue by a 20-16 final,
and the Illini lead the all-time series, 43-40-6.
Purdue ranks 94th in the nation in scoring offense (23.8 ppg) and 113th in
total offense (312.0 ypg). Danny Etling has had a shaky start to his sophomore
season under center, completing only 54.9 percent of his passes while
averaging just 160.0 ypg through the air. He has thrown six touchdowns and
Running backs Akeem Hunt (6.0 ypc) and Raheem Mostert (4.4 ypc) have been
productive when handed the ball, and Hunt reeled off 90 yards on 14 carries
against Iowa last week. But Purdue managed only nine first downs and 156 total
yards for the game.
Meanwhile, the Purdue defense held Iowa without a first down in five first-
quarter possessions. It was the second straight week the Boilermakers held
their opponent scoreless in the first quarter. Defensive back Frankie Williams
also came up with a big play early on, notching his second interception of the
season in the opening frame and returning it 39 yards for a touchdown to stake
the Boilermakers an early 7-0 lead. He finished with 10 tackles, while
sophomore safety Landon Feichter led the way with 11 stops. For the third
straight game, the Boilermakers defense did not allow a 100-yard rusher.
Illinois boasts the nation’s No. 23 passing offense (309.4 ypg), but is just
111th in rushing (102.2 ypg). The Illini have relied on big plays, as their 32
offensive plays of 20-plus yards stands as the seventh-most in the FBS.
Sophomore QB Wes Lunt, a transfer from Oklahoma State, leads the Big Ten with
309.3 passing yards per game, and his 11 passing TDs ranks second in the
league despite sitting out the Nebraska game (knee, questionable). He also
leads the FBS in fourth-h (13, 139 yards, three TDs) and Jafus Gaines (12 recept
yards, four TDs) are both highly effective in the red zone.
Defensively, Texas State could stand to improve, as it allows 27.8 ppg and
400.8 ypg, while forcing just five turnovers through four games.
David Mayo has established himself as one of the Sun Belt’s best linebackers,
with his 56 tackles more than twice as any of his teammates. The team has 10
sacks but only Kris Petersen (2.0 sacks) has more than one.
The Bobcats will need to tighten up defensively if they want to be considered
one of the favorites in the Sun Belt, but at home against a lackluster Idaho
squad, it shouldn’t matter much. Expect Jones and company to have their way
against a suspect Vandals’ defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas State 45, Idaho 27