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Ten observations about Cincinnati-Illinois game

Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville runs onfield with his team start an NCAA college football game against Purdue Saturday Aug.

Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville runs onto the field with his team at the start of an NCAA college football game against Purdue, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

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Saturday

Cincinnati at Illinois

The facts: 11 a.m., ESPN2, 560-AM.

The records: Illinois 1-0, Cincy. 1-0.

The line: Cincinnati by 8.

Updated: October 8, 2013 6:14AM



Here’s 10 things I think I already know about the Cincinnati-Illinois game Saturday.

1. Illinois’ offensive line will play a lot better with guard Teddy Karras back. Karras’ absence in the opener against Southern Illinois led to an almost completely shuffled line. All five first-teamers should be back in the spots where, as a unit, they performed well during training camp.

2. Of course, better line play will help running back Donnovon Young rebound from a terrible outing. Josh Ferguson managed, even in the SIU game, to make the most of his snaps, so he should play well against UC. Who knows? Maybe quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase won’t take a beating in the pocket for a change.

3. It’s still more likely that the Bearcats will have more sacks than the Illini.

4. Eric Finney will open eyes with his physical presence. Finney, who plays the Star position on defense, missed the opener after a knee injury during training camp. He isn’t as big as Mike Svetina, but he covers more ground and adds big-play potential.

5. The Bearcats will pound the ball at Illinois in the run game as much as they can get away with. New coach Tommy Tuberville enjoys tough-guy football, which he didn’t get to experience very much in his brief time at Texas Tech.

6. If healthy, quarterback Brendon Kay will be a more dangerous weapon for UC in the pass game than Munchie Legaux. A close game will come down to Scheelhaase and Kay trading clutch drives.

7. Scheelhaase will have another strong outing. His confidence is higher than it has been in a long time. If it’s a shoot-out, coordinator Bill Cubit’s offense will give the senior a real chance to be successful.

8. Somehow, against all odds, no Illini coach will be un over by a ref or flagged for meandering way outside the coaches’ box. Maybe.

9. A moment before the opening kickoff, 90-plus percent of the home fans will whisper to themselves, “This isn’t going to end well.”

10. At some point in the second half, the Illini will realize they’re in a game they actually have a shot to win. This is where they’ll either collapse like a house of cards or take a significant step forward as a team.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg



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