Friday, September 29, 2006

Illinois - A fine way to get healthy

After collapsing against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last Saturday, the Spartans could not have asked for a better teal to play against to regain their confidence.

Not only is it Homecoming in East Lansing, but Illinois is just 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten so far this season. The Illini were defeated 24-7 by Iowa last week at home in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Illinois has also provided a way for the Spartans to get healthy plenty of times over the last decade or so. MSU (3-1, 0-0) has defeated Illinois nine consecutive times and 10 out the last 11 - including four consecutive in games played in East Lansing.

Meanwhile, Michigan State blew a sure-fire win against Notre Dame last week, but still boast the top offense in the Big Ten and 5th ranked offense in the country. MSU's rushing attack is tops in the conference and 5th in the nation and it is ranked 5th in the conference and 45th in the nation in passing.

Defensively, the Spartans have the 7th rated defense in the conference and 54th in the nation.

Illinois brings in Juice Williams at quarterback who has completed just 22-of-62 passes for 427 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. They are led on the ground by Pierre Thomas who has rushed 40 times for 239 yards and two touchdowns.

This season, Illinois has been outscored 105-70, defeating Eastern Illinois and losing to Rutgers, Syracuse and Iowa. Of the Illinois 70 points, 42 of them came against Eastern Illinois and they were completely shutout by Rutgers, 3-0.

As I said, a perfect team to play to get healthy.

For the record: MSU leads the all-time series with Illinois 23-16-2 and leads 12-7-1 in East Lansing.

In last year's game (to put the Spartans to 4-0 on the season before the collapse of 2005), MSU waxed Illinois 61-14 in Champaign. Drew Stanton was 20-of-26 for 259 yards and a school record five touchdowns while Javon Ringer rushed 13 times for a MSU-freshman record 194 yards.

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