The Illinois Fighting Illini will look to start theseason 2-0 on Saturday, for the third time in the last nine years, when they host the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN2.
Week One Recap: The Illini topped the in-state Salukis 42-34 in a game which, the Illini took control early. The Illini's new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit influence was shown with senior QB Natan Scheelhaase throwing a career-high 416 yards with 340 yards in the first half. The first two Illini touchdowns were scored within a span of 29 seconds in the second quarter, Josh Ferguson 53-yard TD reception and Donovonn Young 2-yard rushing TD. At half the Illini led 25-7 after a 22 point second quarter and allowed SIU to score 17 and 10 in the final two quarters.
Illinois-Cincinnati Series History: Saturday's match-up will only be the second between the two teams with the Cincinnati having earned a 49-36 win on Nov. 27, 2009. The then-fifth-ranked Bearcats were undefeated under head coach Brian Kelly, recorded 237 return yards and QB Tony Pike was 32-of-46 for 399 yards and six touchdowns. Illini QB Juice Williams was 21-of-34 for 282 yards and three touchdowns, and 67 yards rushing and one touchdown.
Cincinnati Breakdown: The Bearcats earned a 42-7 win over the Purdue Boilermakers at home in week one. Safety Adrian Witty only recorded two tackles but his 41-yard interception return for a touchdown swung the moment for Cincy. QB Munchie Legaux threw for 145 yards and ran for 55 more yards and one touchdown. Running backs Hosey Williams and Ralph Abernathy each had 15 carries for 122 total yards.
Illini Injury Report: Eric Finney and OL Ted Karras missed the season opener but look to return on Saturday and OL Tony Durkin is out for the season as of Aug. 29.
Prediction: Scheelhaase continues to shine under OC Bill Cubit, throwing two TDs and 200 yards while Cincy's QBs match him. LB Johnathan Brown and company will be able to contain the Cincy run game in a 24-17 Illini victory.
Next Week: The Illini host the Washington Huskies on Sept. 14 at Soldier Field in Chicago at 5 p.m. CT