Minnesota football vs. Illinois: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score
Golden Gophers battle Fighting Illini
MINNEAPOLIS – After a run of close games to start the season, Minnesota will be in search of an emphatic win when it hosts Illinois on Saturday in a Big Ten contest. The four victories for the Golden Gophers have been decided by seven or fewer points, including one in overtime, but they have a chance to exact revenge from the Fighting Illini after last season's blowout loss.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Minnesota -14
P.J. Fleck's team became the first since Penn State in 1985 and the fifth to win four straight one-possession games to start the season, including last week's 38-31 victory at Purdue. "The first three games we had to come from behind to win and this game (against Purdue) we had to keep the lead to win," Fleck, whose team has won six straight games dating back to last season, told the media. "The majority of our team is still young, learning how to win." Sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan was nearly perfect, completing 21-of-22 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns and he needed to be as the Boilermakers kept the pressure on by scoring the final 14 points. Senior running back Reggie Corbin will be out to repeat his spectacular performance of 213 rushing yards and two touchdowns in last season's 55-31 victory against Minnesota for the Fighting Illini, who used the bye week to recover from a pair of home losses by a combined seven points against Eastern Michigan and Nebraska.
ABOUT ILLINOIS (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
With No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 18 Michigan next on the docket, the Fighting Illini are in must-win mode against the Gophers after letting two wins slip away. Junior quarterback Brandon Peters had gotten off to a solid start, averaging 229 passing yards while throwing nine touchdowns in the first three games, but things fell flat against Nebraska as he went 9-of-22 for 78 yards. "Definitely some good, some bad," Peters told the media of his performance to date. "There's always room for improvement at the quarterback position. The biggest thing I want to see is just being more decisive."
ABOUT MINNESOTA (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Morgan has put his name up there with some of the best in college football, including Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa by ranking third in the nation in yards per attempt (11.6), tenth in completion percentage (73.4) and fourth in passing efficiency (202.10), but one area he has struggled in is taking sacks. The Kentucky native, who is 8-2 as a starter, has been sacked 15 times this season, a number topped by only 10 schools in the FBS. The Gophers may be tempted to air it out against an Illinois defense allowing 261.8 passing yards per game, but the Fighting Illini have done a great job of getting to the quarterback, registering 14 sacks, including seven by Oluwole Betiku, Jr.
1. Included in Corbin's 213 yards in last season's meeting - the second-most for the Fighting Illini against the Gophers behind the 315 yards by Robert Holcombe in 1996 - were the two longest runs (72 and 77 yards) for Illinois in the history of the rivalry.
2. Minnesota, which has won six of the last eight games with Illinois to take a 38-30-3 lead in the series, needs one win to become the 28th school to reach 700 victories.
3. Penn State owns the longest streak of one-possession games to start a season at six while Notre Dame won five straight in 1939, and Texas and Clemson each won four in a row in 1958.
PREDICTION: Minnesota 47, Illinois 34
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