Illinois vs. Purdue: Matchups to watch

Illinois’ offensive line prepares for a play during the game against Texas State on Sept. 20, 2014. Illinois won 42-35.

By BY Trish Christakis

It was a harsh game for Illini fans last week. The Nebraska Cornhuskers demolished the Illinois defense. After the 45-14 loss to Nebraska, the Illini now come into their first conference game at home against Purdue. Here are some key match-ups to look out for heading into the weekend.

Purdue offense vs. Illini defense

The Illini’s meeting with the Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium in 2013 was a 20-16 Illinois victory. The Illinois defense limited the Boilermakers to 11 first downs. In the past three years, all three games have been close, being decided by a touchdown or less.

Josh Ferguson vs. Hype

Josh Ferguson is among the nation’s top all-purpose backs for the second-straight year. Being one of the only five players in the nation with more than 300 rushing yards and 150 receiving yards, there is a lot of pressure on him. Ferguson rushed for 115 yards on 20 carries against Purdue in 2013 and broke Kameno Bell’s record for single-season receiving yards by an Illini running back. He dominated in his last game against the Boilermakers, but with all the pressure on him, will he execute? 

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 Purdue and Illinois vs. Cannon Trophy 

Purdue currently leads the Cannon series 32-28-2, but Illinois leads the all-time series 43-40-6. This is a competitive rivalry between the two Big Ten schools and is something the players and fans look forward to every year. The Illini hold the cannon after last year’s win.

Trish can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @TrishChristakes.