Players to watch: Illinois vs. Iowa

Illinois: #5 Rashard Mendenhall

Position: Running back

Class: Junior

Hometown: Skokie, Ill.

Height: 5-feet-11

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    Weight: 224 lbs.

    The Skokie Swift has put together four 100-yard rushing games this season and has scored at least one touchdown in every Illini game this year. Mendenhall is tied for ninth in the nation in scoring and fifth nationally in total rushing, averaging 128.7 yards a game. His 6.8 yards per carry is second best in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Javon Ringer. The junior running back has already won one Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award and if not for Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher’s performance last week, he could have had his second.

    Iowa: #44 Mike Humpal

    Position: Linebacker

    Class: Senior

    Hometown: New Hampton, Iowa

    Height: 6-feet-3

    Weight: 242 lbs

    Despite losing four straight games, Iowa is fourth in the Big Ten in rush defense, giving up an average of 113.8 yards a game. Leading the way for the Hawkeyes is Humpal. The senior linebacker is first on the team in tackles with 55, averaging 9.1 a game. For Iowa to eliminate the rushing attack of Illinois, Humpal will have to come up big for the Hawkeyes as they look to end their recent skid and avoid an 0-4 start to the conference schedule.