3 Matchups to Watch: Illinois State
Illinois State is coming into this game absolutely believing that they can win and they are playing for the playoff lives. Realistically they need 1 win in the next two weeks to get to seven wins and likely guarantee their spot. The Jackrabbits will need to start fast, break their spirit, and put them away. In their losses, Illinois State has been a terrible second half team. It looks like beautiful weather now for Saturday and it shouldn't be a factor in the outcome.
3 Matchups to Watch
1. The Lawfirm (Brown, Johnson, Lewis, and Anderson) vs. Willie Edwards and DraShane Glass
It is likely that Illinois State's outstanding corner, Davontae Harris, will be matched up with Jake Wieneke for most of the game. The other Illinois State corners, Willie Edwards and DraShane Glass, are quality corners; Glass has 1 INT in each of the past two games. Last week against WIU, receivers and tight ends not named Jaelon Acklin totaled 14 receptions for nearly 200 yards. The Lawfirm (my nickname for this group of re) had a huge game last week against NDSU. They have developed great report with Taryn throughout the season and this week they should be able to build on that.
2. Jackrabbit offensive line vs. Illinois State front 7
Yes, another test for the offensive line. In 2017 they have answered the call in most games. Last week they performed really well other than a few penalties. The Illinois State front 7 boast great size and physicality. There are 7 members in the defensive line and linebacker group who have more than 2.5 sacks this season. Dalton Keene is especially a name to watch. Keene has 6 sacks from his interior positions and is a load (6-4, 275). If the Jacks can block up this physical group, they will win.
3. Jackrabbit run defense vs. Illinois State run game
In their three losses, Illinois State has only run the ball for 108.7 ypg. In their 6 victories, they have run the ball for 231.8 ypg. Robinson and Smith are both high quality running backs. It will be important for the Jackrabbits to stop the run and make Jake Kolbe beat them. Kolbe is a good player but Illinois State certainly favors the run. In their two losses, SDSU allowed 214 running ypg and in their 7 wins just 130 ypg. If Illinois State can control the clock and the line of scrimmage it could be a long day for the Jackrabbits.
Looks like a beautiful November afternoon. Get out and cheer on the Jackrabbits!