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TOC Staff Picks: Illinois

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Will the Spartans defeat Illinois? See what our writers think

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Spartans are in desperate need of a win and Illinois is one win away from bowl eligibility, so the game has meaning for both sides. Will MSU come out on top? See what our writers think.

Ryan O’Bleness (45-19)

Michigan State 27, Illinois 17

I don’t care how badly this team has struggled up to this point, and I know playing without Bachie is not going to be fun. I also know Illinois (somehow) beat Wisconsin, who wrecked MSU -- but the Spartans aren’t losing to Illinois at home. Book it.

Maryland vs. Ohio State

Penn State vs. Minnesota

Purdue vs. Northwestern

Iowa vs. Wisconsin

Matt Sheehan (43-11)

Illinois 24, Michigan State 17

In its last three games, Team A has been outscored 100-17 in a trio of games over by halftime. They have no offense. They can’t kick field goals. Their best defensive player has been suspended the rest of the year. Their coach plays an aimless game of quarterback roulette. The team may or may not have quit on the season -- the season that is now a lost cause. Team B has won three straight games, including one against Wisconsin. Team B is fighting for a historical season on their standards. The season for Team A has been nothing short of off the rails, and I have no reason to believe that it will stop now.

Maryland vs. Ohio State

Penn State vs. Minnesota

Purdue vs. Northwestern

Iowa vs. Wisconsin

Matt Hoeppner (45-11)

Illinois 20, MSU 13

Ok, I’ll be that guy. At this point there is no reason to believe that this MSU football team is capable of beating any team with a pulse. While I wouldn’t pick against MSU against Maryland or Rutgers, this Illinois team has played well lately, while the Spartans have gone in the opposite direction.

MSU is without their best overall defender in Joe Bachie and their best offensive weapon in Darrell Stewart. There is very little to convince me that this is going to go well for the home team.

Maryland vs. Ohio State

Penn State vs. Minnesota

Purdue vs. Northwestern

Iowa vs. Wisconsin

David Harns (48-16)

MSU 22, Illinois 21

Maryland vs. Ohio State

Penn State vs. Minnesota

Purdue vs. Northwestern

Iowa vs. Wisconsin

Zach Manning (53-11)

Illinois 24, MSU 13

I’m honestly not sure how the Spartans are a double-digit favorite after what they’ve shown over the last few weeks. MSU’s offense is a mess, and I don’t see that changing on Saturday. MSU can win this game, but Illinois will do enough to get by the Spartans.

Maryland vs. Ohio State

Penn State vs. Minnesota

Purdue vs. Northwestern

Iowa vs. Wisconsin

Paul Fanson (54-10)

MSU 31, Illinois 21

If MSU is going to start to salvage this season, it basically is now or never. The good news is that Illinois is not a Top 10 team, and I think that there is a good chance MSU looks MUCH better against teams that are not playoff contenders. At least, that is what would happen if the team weren’t without several more key players (Bachie, Stewart, Allen, etc.). Either way, my computer likes MSU by just about 10 points (just under the spread) and I project a 31-21 feel good win. Incidentally, the FPI likes MSU by over 16 points.

Maryland vs. Ohio State

Penn State vs. Minnesota

Purdue vs. Northwestern

Iowa vs. Wisconsin