Northwestern vs. Illinois Prediction, Game Preview

    Northwestern vs. Illinois prediction and game preview. The Wildcats look for their 10th win as they take on the in-state rival Illini in Champaign.

    November 20, 2015

    Northwestern (9-2) is plating for a ten-win season and a terrific bowl game. There’s a chance to get the No. 4 bowl slot in the equation with a win, finishing the year as the second-best team in the West and with an outside shot at a New Year’s Six game. Illinois (5-6) needs the win to go bowling, but the program is used to coming up with big wins over the Wildcats – it did last year. Played in Chicago, check out the Northwestern vs. Illinois prediction and game preview.

    Northwestern vs. Illinois Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Saturday, November 28
    Game Time: 3:30 pm
    Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

    Network: ESPNU

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    Why You Need To Care

    Somehow, Northwestern escaped Wisconsin with a 13-7 win. The Badgers appeared to have the game won a few different times in a few different ways, but the Wildcats find a way. They might not be pretty, and they might not have any sort of an offense, but they have a tough, timely defense, they don’t make a slew of big mistakes, and they seem to always come up with the one big play at the right time. With five of their last six wins by seven points or fewer, they know how to handle stressful battles.

    Illinois stared out 4-2 and just needed to win two of its final six games to get bowl eligible. Instead, it’s been a struggle losing five of its last six with the lone victory coming against Purdue. The program is undergoing a big overhaul and is almost certainly going to come up with another head coach for Bill Cubit no matter what, but a win over the Wildcats and a bowl appearance might keep the interim man around. With the offense struggling over the last several weeks, though, it’s going to take something special to get that elusive sixth win.

    Why Illinois Will Win

    Even with nine wins, Northwestern’s offense just doesn’t do much of anything when the ground game isn’t quite working. The Illinois running defense has allowed over 500 yards with six scores in the last two games, but that’s not the biggest deal considering there’s no worry whatsoever about the Wildcat passing attack. Northwestern hasn’t thrown for more than 180 yards in the last seven games and only did it once all year. Illinois can load up on the defensive front.

    Why Northwestern Will Win

    The Wildcats survive on great field position, and they should own it thanks to a great punting game and a defense that’s terrific at getting off the field. It’s not the toughest formula – don’t get penalized, own third downs on defense, control the clock as much as much as possible. There’s no pop lately to the Illinois offense that worked on the ground against Purdue, but won’t against the NU defensive front. The O line doesn’t generate enough of a push.

    Player Who Matters

    Illinois QB Wes Lunt missed last year’s 47-33 stunner over the Wildcats, but now he’s one win away from taking his team to a bowl and moving the needle forward. He was terrific in the loss to Minnesota, hitting 72% of his passes for 279 yards and two scores, but he’s been inconsistent. The Northwestern defense has a way of frustrating offense and standstill passers. If Lunt isn’t fantastic, Illinois can’t get it done.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    Northwestern is defying all logic and reason, but it’s not hard to figure out that the defense is getting it done. Illinois is sputtering and coughing too much offensively, and overall the team just isn’t quite tight enough to keep the Wildcats from pulling off a tenth win in one of the best seasons in program history.

    Northwestern vs. Illinois Prediction

    Final Score: Northwestern 23, Illinois 16, Line: Northwestern -3.5, o/u: COMING

    Must See Rating: 5: Creed – 1: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade … 3

    MORE: College Football Bowl Projections After Week 12

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