Week 14: Illini seeking seventh win

December, 2, 2010
12/02/10
3:22
PM CT
Fresno StateIllinoisIllinois (6-5) at Fresno State (7-4)
When, where:
9:21 p.m. Friday at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, Calif.
TV: ESPN2
Radio: WIND-560 AM
Web: ESPN3.com
What you need to know: Illinois took the pressure off this game by earning it sixth win with a victory over Northwestern two weeks ago. The Illini are likely destined for the Texas Bowl, but could improve their stock with a win here. Last season, Illinois fell to Fresno State 53-52 in a shootout. Fresno State does look good on paper with seven wins this season, but its only win against a .500-plus team was versus FCS opponent Cal Poly. The Bulldogs did hang with Nevada before losing 35-34. Fresno State is better against the run than the pass, but it will still have its hands full with Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure, who is coming off his 330-yard performance against Northwestern.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Illinois 42, Fresno State 27

NIUMiamiNorthern Illinois (10-2) vs. Miami of Ohio (8-4)
When, where:
6 p.m. Friday at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich.
TV: ESPN2
Radio: WSCR-670 AM
Web: ESPN3.com
What you need to know: Very few expect this to be a close game for the MAC championship. The line has been set with Northern Illinois being an 18-point favorite. The Huskies have been unstoppable lately. They’ve scored 59 or more points in their last three games and won their last nine. Running back Chad Spann leads the nation with 20 rushing touchdowns and was named the conference’s player of the year earlier in the week. Northern Illinois had six first-team all-conference selections, including quarterback Chandler Harnish. Miami of Ohio won the MAC East by winning its last four games, including a 23-3 win over Temple in its last game. The RedHawks’ defense has held eight of their opponents to 21 or fewer points.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Northern Illinois 45, Miami of Ohio 24

Appalachian StateWIUWestern Illinois (8-4) at Appalachian State (9-2)
When, where:
11 a.m. Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C.
TV: ESPN GamePlan
Radio: None
Web: ESPN3.com
What you need to know: Western Illinois advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs after defeating Coastal Carolina 17-10 last week. The Leathernecks forced five turnovers in the win. Appalachian State will be a much grander test. The Mountaineers are the top seed of the playoffs, but have lost two of their last three games with an overtime defeat to Georgia Southern and a lopsided loss to Florida. Western Illinois’ defense will need to step up again as Appalachian State has scored 34 or more points in all nine of its wins. Leathernecks quarterback Matt Barr moved up to second in the school’s all-time career passing leaders with 6,878 yards.
Powers’ prediction: Appalachian State 38, Western Illinois 34
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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