Matchup to Watch: Marcus Thigpen v. Illinois Special Teams

The Illini have seen Indiana’s senior captain Marcus Thigpen before – a lot.

The fifth-year running back and special teams player put up 313 all-purpose yards against Illinois the last time the teams met at Memorial Stadium, in 2006. In the Hoosiers’ 35-32 win, Thigpen had 197 kickoff return yards, including a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Following Indiana’s loss to Minnesota on Oct. 4, Thigpen became the first player in school history to go more than 1,000 yards in rushing, receiving and kickoff returns.

He currently has 3,859 all-purpose yards in his collegiate career.

Illinois hopes to avoid what happened in St. Louis against Missouri and in State College, Pa., against Penn State. The Illini’s special teams allowed the Tigers’ Jeremy Maclin to return a kickoff 99 yards for a score.

And in the fourth quarter against the Nittany Lions, Derrick Williams returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.

Just as in previous games this season, the Illini’s performance on special teams will help determine which way the game goes.

By Stuart Lieberman