Indiana and Illinois have a longstanding rivalry on the basketball court, but lately the hate has struggled to break through on the football field. This is partially due to neither school having sustained much success in recent years as well as the Big Ten’s divisional structure.
Only a three-hour drive separates the schools, but this will be the first football game between them since a 24-14 win by the Hoosiers in Champaign during the 2017 season. This will be Illinois’ first trip to Indiana since 2013, a game Indiana won 52-35. Three meetings in the last decade is a massive shift for a rivalry that saw both programs play every season from 1995 to 2013.
Indiana has had the better run of results as of late, winning the last three meetings, but Illinois controls the all-time series with a record of 45-24-2.
Illinois vs. Indiana: Need to know
This is already a crucial game for both teams: Both Indiana and Illinois hope to go bowling this season, but neither is guaranteed to get there. When fans of both teams looked ahead at their respective schedule in the offseason, this game was circled as one of the potential six wins needed. So while there’s no such thing as a “must win” this early in the season, this is a “probably should win” if they want to have a realistic shot of playing this postseason.
Indiana has lost nine straight Big Ten games: The Hoosiers were one of 2020’s biggest surprises, going 6-2 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten during a shortened season with the lone conference loss coming to Ohio State. Indiana couldn’t carry that success into 2021 despite starting the year ranked in the major polls, going 2-10 and winless in Big Ten play. That included eight straight losses to finish the season. A win Friday would not only end its conference losing streak, but it would be the team’s first win since a 33-31 victory over Western Kentucky on Sept. 25.
Illinois has yet to win consecutive games under Bret Bielema: Last year in Week 0, the Illini surprised people with an upset win over Nebraska. They followed it up with a 37-30 home loss to UTSA, the first of four consecutive losses. Last week, Illinois again won its Week 0 home opener, crushing Wyoming 38-6. It’s hoping history doesn’t repeat itself and looking to kick a trend of inconsistency. While last year’s Nebraska win was the only one to be followed by a four-game losing streak, the Illini weren’t able to post consecutive wins last season. After a win over Charlotte, they lost to Wisconsin. After beating Penn State on the road, they lost at home to Rutgers. After beating Minnesota on the road, they lost to Iowa. While they enter this game on a two-game win streak (they finished last season with a win over Northwestern), winning back-to-back games in the same season could be the confidence boost this program needs.
How to watch Illinois vs. Indiana live
Date: Friday, September 2 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Memorial Stadium — Bloomington, Indiana
TV: FS1 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Illinois vs. Indiana prediction, picks
Featured Game | Indiana Hoosiers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Each team has an advantage it’s looking to exploit in this game. Indiana has not announced its starting QB and has new coordinators. This means Illinois has not been able to prepare for this game with any certainty of what it will see. Further, Illinois played on Saturday last week and had to prepare a game plan for Wyoming before turning around on a short week to play a road game against the Hoosiers. Meanwhile, Indiana has been able to prepare for Illinois the whole offseason and now has game film it can dissect. Of course, what Illinois has going for it is that it has a game under its belt. It’ll be interesting to see how that impacts the game. I don’t have an excellent read for how this one will go, but my gut tells me that neither team blows the other out of the water, so taking the points with the Illini is the most attractive option. Prediction: Illinois +3
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