Illinois Football: Week Two matchups to watch

By Sam Sherman

The Illini are 1-0 after defeating Youngstown State in a less-than-impressive 28-17 victory. This weekend, they take on a Western Kentucky Hilltopper team that put up 702 total yards on Bowling Green in its opener. While the oddsmakers are currently siding with the Illini, this week’s game will be anything but easy for a team whose defense will be put to the test.

Illini defense vs. QB Brandon Doughty

Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty put up ridiculous numbers against Bowling Green, going 46-for-56 passing with 569 yards and six touchdowns. Bottom line: This team can score. The question is whether the Illini defense will hold up. Against Youngstown State, the Illini defense mostly held its own. The main issue is that the Penguins hardly tested the Illini secondary, only throwing for 177 yards on 24 attempts.

Josh Ferguson vs. Hilltopper defense

Even though Wes Lunt has gotten all of the attention this season, Josh Ferguson is still the most important part of this year’s Illini offense. Last year, the speedy Ferguson was the spark for Illinois’ offensive resurgence under Bill Cubit. This year, with so many inexperienced offensive players, Ferguson may very well need to play that role again. In the opener, the Illini had a tough time getting anything going on the ground as Ferguson only ran the ball 11 times for 42 yards.

Wes Lunt vs. Slow start

In his first game as an Illini, Wes Lunt came out of the gate looking a little out of place. He made up for the slow start with a brilliant fourth quarter, but if the Illini want to contend this year, slow starts will be unacceptable. Considering it was his first start in a almost two years, he may have just been shaking off the cobwebs. Time will tell if he can put it all together for a full game.