- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Western Michigan (2-1) at No. 24 Illinois (3-0)
When, where: Sat. at 2:30 p.m., Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WIND-560 AM
What you need to know: Illinois won one of its biggest games in awhile last week by defeating previously-ranked Arizona State. The Illini defense really came through in the 17-14 win. It was Illinois’ first win over a ranked opponent since 2007 and earned itself a place at No. 24 in the AP poll. The Illini now have a chance to go 4-0 for the first time since 1951. It won’t be overlooking Western Michigan. The Broncos defeated Illinois when they met in 2008. This year’s Western Michigan team has a potent offense and hung with Michigan for a bit in its season opener.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Illinois 38, Western Michigan 21
Cal Poly (1-2) at Northern Illinois (1-2)
When, where: Sat. at 2:30 p.m., Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill.
Radio: WSCR-670 AM
What you need to know: Northern Illinois struggled on both sides of the ball against Wisconsin last week. The Huskies’ offense looked good early, but lost steam throughout the course of the game. Their wide receivers dropped numerous balls. The defense had difficulty with Wisconsin’s diverse offense. Both sides will look to get back on track against Cal Poly. The Huskies were in the same 1-2 position last year before rattling off nine consecutive wins. Cal Poly’s defense struggled in losses to Montana and San Diego State. It defeated South Dakota State last week.
Powers’ prediction: Northern Illinois 49, Cal Poly 17
South Dakota State (1-2) at Illinois State (1-2)
When, where: Sat. at 6 p.m., Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill.
What you need to know: Illinois State dropped its second heartbreaker of the season last week, falling 33-26 to Youngstown State. The offense held its own, but the defense allowed nearly 500 yards. South Dakota State is coming off losses to Cal Poly and Illinois. Its offense has scored a total of 17 points during the last two games. To make matters worse, Jackrabbits starting quarterback Thomas O’Brien left the team this week.
Powers’ prediction: Illinois State 38, South Dakota State 17
Western Illinois (1-2) at Northern Iowa (1-1)
When, where: Sat. at 4 p.m., UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa
What you need to know: As expected, Western Illinois had a rough day against Missouri last week, losing 69-0. The Leathernecks picked up one first down and 44 offensive yards compared to Missouri’s 744 yards. The offense should be able to move the ball a little easier this week, but it’ll still be a challenge. While Northern Iowa isn’t Missouri, it isn’t a drastic drop off either. The Panthers are one of the top teams in the FCS and only lost by one point to Iowa State to open the season. They had last week off. Northern Iowa quarterback Tirrell Rennie is as dangerous rushing the ball as he is passing it.
Powers’ prediction: Northern Iowa 45, Western Illinois 17
Eastern Illinois (1-2) at Jacksonville State (2-1)
When, where: Sat. at 6 p.m., Burgess-Snow Memorial Stadium in Jacksonville, Ala.
What you need to know: Eastern Illinois kicked off its conference schedule with a 31-20 loss to Tennessee Tech last week. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 300-plus yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as the Panthers’ rushing game accumulated negative six yards. Jacksonville State is ranked in the top 25 in the FCS and was considered the preseason conference favorite in the Ohio Valley. It has had to adapt after losing starting quarterback Marques Ivory in the opening week. Sophomore Coty Blanchard rushed for two touchdowns and threw for one in last week’s win over Georgia State. Eastern Illinois would like to avoid an 0-2 to start in the OVC.
Powers’ prediction: Jacksonville State 34, Eastern Illinois 24
Missouri State (0-3) at Southern Illinois (1-1)
When, where: Sat. at 6 p.m., Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.
What you need to know: Southern Illinois hosts its home opener this week after being off last week. The Salukis’ offense has been impressive in their first two games. They’ve been able to run and pass the ball successfully. If it wasn’t for turnovers, they could have possibly upset Ole Miss. Nose tackle Kayon Swanson has been the team’s most consistent defensive player. Missouri State is winless, but two of those losses came to Arkansas and Oregon. Its other loss was a narrow one to Eastern Kentucky. Missouri State won 51-41 over Southern Illinois last year in a shootout.
Powers’ prediction: Southern Illinois 34, Missouri State 27