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Illinois football fans weren’t all that excited when the school hired Toledo’s Tim Beckman to replace the fired Ron Zook, and Beckman is doing nothing to appease the fans as the Illini look like the worst team in the Big Ten right now. They are 23.5-point WagerWeb.com underdogs Saturday at Michigan.
The Illini lost their third straight game last week, 31-14 at Wisconsin. The offensive struggles of the Illini (2-4, 0-2) continued, with quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase the only positive.
He finished with 178 yards passing and 84 rushing as Illinois gained 287 yards overall. Scheelhaase ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter and threw for an 8-yard touchdown to Ryan Lankford to make it 24-14 late in the game. But Jared Abbrederis fielded the ensuing onside kick, and Montee Ball scored his second touchdown of the game. The Illini rank No. 104 nationally in points per game.
The school’s athletic director, Mike Thomas, already has spoken on Beckman’s behalf, although nothing Thomas said would indicate Beckman is in trouble.
“I’m disappointed in where we are,” Thomas said. “Our coaches, our student-athletes and our fan base are disappointed. But I have confidence Tim’s going to do great things here.”
The Wolverines had perhaps their most impressive game last week with a 44-13 win at Purdue. Denard Robinson rushed 24 times for 235 yards and threw for one touchdown. Robinson became the Big Ten’s career rushing leader among quarterbacks, passing Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El (3,895) midway through the fourth quarter.
Robinson now has 3,905 yards and broke a tie with Kent State’s Josh Cribbs to move into fifth place in NCAA history for yards rushing among quarterbacks. Robinson also moved up to fifth on the school’s career rushing list, passing Chris Perry and Butch Woolfolk, and fourth on Michigan’s career passing list, passing Todd Collins.
Michigan won 31-14 at Illinois last year. Scheelhaase was successfully bottled up by a Wolverine defense that turned in arguably its best overall performance of the season. The quick-footed Illini quarterback ran for just 14 yards on 16 carries, and went 16-for-31 with zero touchdowns and one interception through the air.
Michigan leads the series by a 68-23-2 advantage overall and holds a 32-11-1 lead in games played in Ann Arbor. The two teams have split the last four meetings, with Illinois winning 45-20 in the Big House in 2008 and 38-13 in Champaign in 2009.
The series has been nearly even in the last eight meetings in Ann Arbor, with Michigan holding a slight 4-3-1 advantage dating back to 1992. The Illini were victorious in the Big House in 1993 (24-21), 1999 (35-29) and 2008 (45-20). In Illinois’ last two trips to the Big House, the Illini have scored 110 points, by far the most that Illinois has ever scored in consecutive games in Ann Arbor.
WagerWeb.com trends: Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in Michigan. Road team is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings. Underdog is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 meetings.