Youngstown State vs. Illinois
Football Pick: Illinois -11 (August 30th 2014)
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Illinois is in year three of the Tim Beckman regime, but the two key additions to this team both arrived in 2013- OC Bill Cubit and QB Wes Lunt (Oklahoma State transfer). As much progress as Illinois made last season offensively, Lunt is designed for this type of offense and RB Josh Ferguson showed flashes of brilliance last season. Both should be helped out by a veteran offensive line that is in year 2 of their system. Youngstown State generally is as talented as any FCS program year after year, but this team lost a ton of talent from last season’s 8-4 squad and is basically starting over on defense.
Illinois offense is going to put up points, the key to this season and game for Illinois is how quickly the defense’s front 7 finds players who can make plays in the opposing backfield. Youngstown is primarily a rushing attack offensively and they will look to lean on sophomore Martin Ruiz who exploded onto the FCS scene last season. If Illinois can slow Ruiz on the early downs, YSU is breaking in a new QB in Dante Nania.
Ultimately Illinois should eventually out-talent Youngstown in this match up. How much Illinois wins by will be revealed on the defensive side of the ball. Illinois should be able to score at least 31 points in this game, and should expect to score more. If the defense plays well in this game Illinois may be a team to watch for the rest of the season.
Illinois 41 Youngstown State 23