- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Minnesota (1-9) at Illinois (5-4)
When, where: Saturday, 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WIND-560 AM
What you need to know: Illinois can –- and most likely will -- become bowl eligible with a win over Minnesota. The Illini are coming off last week’s 67-65 triple-overtime loss to Michigan. Running back Mikel Leshoure scored five touchdowns in the loss. Illinois’ offense has averaged 50.7 points its last three games. Minnesota is riding a nine-game losing streak heading into Champaign. The Gophers’ offense has scored a total of 18 points in their last two games. This season can’t end soon enough for Minnesota.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Illinois 45, Minnesota 13
Iowa (7-2) Northwestern (6-3)
When, where: Saturday, 11 a.m. at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.
Radio: WGN-720 AM
What you need to know: Iowa is out for revenge in this one. Northwestern has defeated the Hawkeyes in four of their last five meetings, and three of those games were at Iowa. The Hawkeyes were ranked No. 4 in the BCS last year when Northwestern pulled off a 17-10 upset in Iowa City. The Wildcats have lost three of their last four games and are coming off a crushing loss to Penn State. Northwestern led the Nittany Lions 21-0 before allowing Penn State 35 unanswered points. The Wildcats have struggled this season putting it together for an entire game.
Powers’ prediction: Iowa 35, Northwestern 24
Eastern Illinois (2-8) at Illinois State (5-5)
When, where: Saturday, 11 a.m. at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill.
Web: GoRedbirds.com, EIUPanthers.com
What you need to know: Illinois State had one of the more exciting finishes in its program’s history last week when Matt Brown connected with Tyrone Walker for a 40-yard touchdown with one second remaining to lift the Redbirds to a 41-39 win over Youngstown State. It was one of five touchdown passes for Brown on the day. Eastern Illinois is also riding high into this match-up. The Panthers won their second consecutive game by defeating Tennessee State 31-28 last week. Wide receiver Chris Wright had 217 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
Powers’ prediction: Illinois State 48, Eastern Illinois 20
Western Illinois (6-3) at Southern Illinois (3-6)
When, where: Saturday, 1 p.m. at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.
Web: SIUSalukis.com, GoLeathernecks.com
What you need to know: Southern Illinois’ season continued to travel downhill last week with a 20-6 loss to North Dakota State. It was the third time this season that the Salukis failed to score more than 10 points. Western Illinois is coming off its bye. The last time the Leathernecks played their offense put up 65 points in a win over Illinois State. Running backs Caulton Ray and Bryce Flowers have combined for 1,491 yards and 15 touchdowns this year.
Powers’ prediction: Western Illinois 45, Southern Illinois 28
Utah (8-1) at Notre Dame (4-5)
When, where: 1:30 p.m. at Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Radio: WLS-AM 890
Web: und.com, utahutes.cstv.com.
What you need to know: Notre Dame has lost its last two games and, most importantly, starting quarterback Dayne Crist for the rest of the season. Crist went down in the first quarter against Tulsa two weeks ago with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee and had surgery the following day. Until his return, which is expected sometime following spring practices, freshman Tommy Rees, a Lake Forest, Ill., product, leads a hobbled Fighting Irish offense. His performance in relief of Crist, which included a school-record four touchdowns for a freshman, should have been good enough to escape the Golden Hurricane. Instead, a questionable play call by coach Brian Kelly resulted in Rees' third interception of the day, this time in the end zone with less than a minute remaining. A well-timed bye week gave Rees extra repetitions and other dinged up personnel a chance to mend. Notre Dame, which also lost senior tailback Armando Allen (hip) for the rest of the year and is replaced by sophomore Cierre Wood, must win two of its remaining three games to become bowl eligible. Utah, which just had its title dream dashed demonstrably in a 47-7 loss to Texas Christian, doesn't intend to provide ND one of those victories. The Utes offensive line is stout, giving QB Jordan Wynn plenty of time to operate, though he doesn't need much. Utah is averaging over 40 points and 175 yards rushing per game. Notre Dame has struggled defending punts and the Utes are ranked No. 1 nationally, averaging 20.76 yards per return. Both teams played Pitt this season, with Notre Dame picking up a 23-17 win at home and Utah topped the visiting Panthers, 27-24, in overtime.
Wes Morgan's prediction: Utah 31, Notre Dame 24.