GOOD MORNING FROM MEMORIAL STADIUM AND ZUPPKE FIELD. It's chilly, but there's little wind right now. No wind should help Illinois QB and passing wizard Wes Lunt. But the Illini have two more OL out of the game...meaning Carl Davis, Louis Trinca-Pasat and Drew Ott have to put the heat on Lunt and not let him get in rhythm.
CHANGE IN ORDER? Kevonte Martin-Manley returned punts last season. Matt VandeBerg won the job this year. Well guess what? Martin-Manley is fielding punts in warmups.
UPDATE: McCarron won't play because of an illness. Matt VandeBerg will field punts, Martin-Manley his backup.
IOWA'S BIGGEST ADVANTAGE TODAY…Iowa's offense hashardly been a juggernaut this season. The Hawkeyes have not had more than 483 yards of offense in a game all year. But Illinois has allowed a league-worst 525.8 yards a game against Big Ten foes, 335 of them coming on the ground. Iowa needs to take advantage, and produce a 100-yard rusher for the second time in three games – and the second time this season.
FLORIDA SUNSHINE? OK, he's a Florida boy, but Iowa's Jake Rudock is warming up in shorts.
DRESSED UP. The Illini wore gray-toned uniforms in their last game, a win over Minnesota, to honor the "Galloping Ghost," Red Grange. Today they're wearing white pants, orange tops. Iowa is wearing...you know what Iowa is wearing.
WHAT COULD BE THEIR UNDOING? If Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt, back for the first time since breaking a bone in his leg against Purdue Oct. 4, finds his rhythm, Iowa's secondary could have a long day. At the time of his injury, Lunt was in the Top 20 nationally in completions per game (25.4), passing yards per game (313.8), passing touchdowns (13), passing yards (1,569), completion percentage (66.5) and pass efficiency (154.8). Minnesota entered last week's game last in the Big Ten in passing offense. And Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner threw four touchdown passes against the Hawkeyes. In conference games only, Iowa leads the Big Ten in pass defense at 121.4 yards a game. They'll be tested today.
Andrew Logue and Rick Brown see Iowa winning as long as they run the ball. Andrea Melendez/HawkCentral
WHO SHOULD WE BE TALKING ABOUT BUT AREN'T? V'Angelo Bentley returned a 12-yard fumble recovery for the winning touchdown against Minnesota two weeks ago. That made him the first player in Illinois history to record a kick return, punt return, interception return and fumble return for a touchdown in his career. He ranks fifth in the nation and first in the Big Ten in combined kick return yards with 710 on 38 returns. His punt return average of 10.3 yards per game ranks 25th nationally.
FINAL PREDICTION: It won't be a thing of beauty, but Iowa scores enough points on a weak Illinois defense to win. Iowa 24, Illinois 13.
Rick Brown and Randy Peterson give their weekly picks for the Big10 and Big12 games. Andrea Melendez/The Register