Miami-Ohio (0-3) at Illinois (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (60,670) -- Champaign, Illinois. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Miami 0-2, Illinois 2-0. Away Record: Miami 0-1, Illinois 0-0. Neutral Record: Miami 0-0, Illinois 0-1. Conference Record: Miami 0-0, Illinois 0-0. Series Record: Illinois leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Miami-Ohio RedHawks continue to search for their first win of the season as they challenge the Illinois Fighting Illini in a non-conference tilt at Memorial Stadium.
The RedHawks fell to 0-3 last week due to a weak offensive performance in a 14-0 loss to Cincinnati. Including the lopsided losses at Marshall (52-14) and Kentucky (41-7), its first two games of the 2013 campaign, Miami has lost seven games in a row and nine of its last 10. Coach Don Treadwell's team really struggled away from home last year, winning just one of its seven road games.
The Fighting Illini had a bye after their 34-24 loss to Washington at Soldier Field in week three dropped their record to 2-1. Illinois defeated Southern Illinois (42-34) and Cincinnati (45-17) to began the season. It was also 2-1 after three games in 2012, but failed to win another game the rest of the way. Coach Tim Beckman engineered an impressive turnaround at Toledo prior to his relocation to Champaign last season. After taking over a program that went 3-9, the Rockets went 21-16 over his three seasons at the school. Beckman went 1-1 against Miami when the RedHawks were one of his conference rivals.
Illinois is 2-0 against the RedHawks in the series between these programs. These schools have not squared off since the 1941 season.
Miami was held to just a single net yard in the second half by the Bearcats last week and finished the game with only 87 total yards of offense and four first downs. The RedHawks' average of 149.3 offensive yards per game is the lowest of any team in the nation and their average of seven points per game is the third-lowest mark. Miami is also one of the worst teams in the FBS on the defensive side of the ball with allowed averages of 35.7 points and 545 total yards of offense per game.
Senior quarterback Austin Boucher had some upside coming into the season after leading Miami to four consecutive wins including victories in the MAC Championship Game and GoDaddy.com bowl in 2010. After serving as a backup to the school's all-time leading passer, Zac Dysert, for the past two seasons, Boucher has failed to impress in his return to the starting role. The senior signal caller has completed only 21-of-52 passes for 266 yards, a touchdown and a three interceptions. He didn't have much help last week as the RedHawks gained only seven yards on 29 rushing attempts.
Miami's defense had its strongest showing of the season last week as it held the Bearcats to 369 yards of offense on 89 plays. Kent Kern led the team with a career-high total of 15 tackles and Josh Dooley tallied 11 stops in the loss. The RedHawks registered three takeaways, as Dayonne Nunley and Heath Harding both picked off UC's Brendon Kay. Nunley now has 13 career interceptions and needs three more to tie the school record.
The Illini's offensive attack was impressive in its first two games of the season, surpassing the 40-point plateau in each contest, while averaging 493 offensive yards per game. That output was minimized by Washington, which outgained Illinois, 615-342, in total yards. Beckman's defense has allowed 1,071 yards over the past two games with 650 coming through the air.
Nathan Scheelhaase had an off-day in Chicago against Washington, completing just 9-of-25 passes for 156 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, while adding 21 yards and a score on 12 carries. The inefficient performance came just one week after he went 26-of-37 for 312 yards and four touchdowns against the Bearcats.
Illinois has been very balanced as 13 different players have made a reception and nine different players have registered a rushing attempt. Senior wideout Ryan Lankford posted his second 100-yard receiving game of the season against Washington. He ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th in the nation with a healthy average of 22.5 yards per catch. Donovonn Young is the leading rusher with 128 yards and two touchdowns. The junior halfback led the team with 571 yards on 121 caries in 2012. The Illini's offense has already had four passing plays go for 50 yards or more after achieving that feat just once all of last season.
Senior linebacker and Butkus Award candidate Jonathan Brown is leading the Big Ten and ranks third nationally in tackles per game (12.7) after making 15 stops against Washington. Mason Monheim is netting 10 tackles per game, which ranks second behind Brown on the conference leaderboard.
Although Illinois indicated it is not quite ready to compete for a Big Ten crown in its loss to Washington, it should have no problem against the RedHawks. Miami is nowhere near the level it was at just three seasons ago when it captured the MAC Championship. Treadwell will have trouble winning any games this season unless he can find a way to ignite a struggling offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois 49, Miami-Ohio 13
09/25 10:32:04 ET