Daily Breakdown: Minnesota vs Illinois Ben GotzNovember 21, 2015Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintBy Mike HendricksonThe Gophers (4-6, 1-5 Big Ten) will face an unranked opponent in Illinois on Saturday after taking on three ranked teams in a row. A full breakdown and score prediction can be seen below:When Minnesota runs the ball:Redshirt freshman running back Rodney Smith is likely to play for the Gophers on Saturday after being a late scratch against Iowa last week. Minnesota’s running offense has been up and down lately, and Illinois is not the easiest opponent. They have allowed an average of 154.4 rushing yards a game, 51st in the Football Bowl Subdivision. If Smith stays healthy Saturday, and freshman Shannon Brooks has another good game, Minnesota will have a chance to get its running game back on track.Matchup to watch: RB Shannon Brooks vs. LB Dawuane SmootAdvantage: IllinoisWhen Illinois runs the ball:Illinois struggles in the ground game, as the Illini are second to last in the Big Ten and 113th in the FBS in rushing offense. The team’s leading rusher, freshman Ke’Shawn Vaughn, is also doubtful for Saturday’s game. The Gophers have some injuries on the defensive line, but have a chance to smother the Illini’s rushing attack.Matchup to watch: RB Josh Ferguson vs. DE Hendrick EkpeAdvantage: MinnesotaWhen Minnesota passes the ball:Illinois has a good passing defense. They are 34th in the FBS in yards allowed a game, and have 12 interceptions in 10 games. Redshirt quarterback Mitch Leidner has rattled off possibly the best four games of his career in his last four games however, and did it against some better passing defenses. The Illini’s passing defense should limit Leidner a little, but it should be another good game for the quarterback and his receivers. Matchup to watch: WR KJ Maye vs. S Taylor BartonAdvantage: MinnesotaWhen Illinois passes the ball:Junior quarterback Wes Lunt had a nice start to the season, but has only thrown four touchdowns in his last five games. He doesn’t turn the ball over much with only four interceptions this season, but he isn’t a good enough quarterback to do significant damage against Minnesota’s secondary. The Gophers are 16th in the FBS in passing yards allowed.Matchup to watch: WR Geronimo Allison vs. CB Eric MurrayAdvantage: MinnesotaOther key factors:Illinois’ offense is not where it was when it began the season. The Illini are averaging 16.8 points in their last five games – nine points a game if you take out their 48-point performance against Purdue – after putting up an average of 30.2 per game in their first five. Minnesota has faced some tough offensive teams lately; the Illini should be a break from that.Prediction:Minnesota 24, Illinois 13Minnesota’s offense is clicking lately, and while Illinois has a tough defense, Leidner and company should have no problem putting up enough points to win this game.Prediction record so far this season: 9-1
Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook See also:QPR v Leeds – as it happenedMonk defiant after QPR beat LeedsQPR make perfect start by crushing LeedsQPR can still improve – HasselbainkFans on Twitter praise Caulker after QPR winVideo: Watch highlights of QPR’s win against Leeds UnitedHasselbaink adds youngster to QPR squad for cup tie QPR got their season off to an excellent start, beating Leeds United 3-0 at Loftus Road. Here’s how we rated the Rangers players in Sunday’s victory.Alex Smithies: 7Barely tested, but commanded his area well and his distribution continues to be outstanding.Nedum Onuoha: 8Defended solidly and was involved in plenty of the action going forward.AdChoices广告Steven Caulker: 7Showed why boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been delighted with Caulker in training and is keen to keep him. The centre-back looked sharp throughout and wasn’t afraid to bring the ball out of defence. His pass led to Jordan Cousins winning a penalty.Grant Hall: 7Was also composed at the heart of the Rangers defence, picking up where he left off last season.Jake Bidwell: 7A promising debut for the left-back, who showed glimpses of the tough tackling, marauding style which made him a fans favourite at Brentford.Karl Henry: 8Started rather than summer signing Cousins and justified his inclusion with an excellent performance in midfield. Never allowed Leeds to settle.Tjaronn Chery scored QPR’s second goalMassimo Luongo: 8A terrific performance from the Australian. Hasselbaink wasn’t initially convinced Luongo was a viable option in central midfield, but he stood out towards the end of last season and started this term in brilliant fashion.Ben Gladwin: 6No shortage of effort, but his confidence appears to be low after being farmed out on loan last season. Lacked composure at times.Tjaronn Chery: 8Always a threat to Leeds and was unlucky not to score a couple of times before his penalty made it 2-0. Showed poise and great awareness from the start to when he was substituted late on to a deserved ovation.Olamide Shodpio: 7Inevitably raw, but the young winger did well on his senior debut. Has plenty of pace and wasn’t afraid to take people on.Sebastian Polter: 8Worked hard up front, constantly bothering the Leeds defence, and fully deserved his injury-time goal. And it was a beauty – a thumping strike into the top corner from a tricky angle after winning a challenge.Nasser El Khayati: 7Very lively after coming on. Set up a chance for Chery and saw a shot of his own well saved by Rob Green.Jordan Cousins: 7Made an impact after coming on too, winning the penalty from which Chery made it 2-0.
Africa’s number one team and defending champions, South Africa, breezed into Accra last night full of confidence ahead of their opening day clash with hosts Ghana.The talented side are the experts’ favourites not only by virtue of being top ranked or the reigning African champions but also buoyed by their recent triumph in Europe.The South Africans lifted the 4-Nations Elektrostal Cup in Russia a couple of weeks ago and boast of an experienced world class team who destroyed Canada 8-1 in the final.That notwithstanding, Ghana’s Black Sticks will push for a spectacular upset as they begin the campaign to rule Men’s Hockey on the continent.The Friday evening fixture will start at 6:30 pm prompt after the opening ceremony.The Black Sticks would not mind being underdogs but will be highly motivated by pride and “host and win” euphoria which seems to have boosted team spirit and resolve. In addition, sound preparations and a vibrant home support should give the team that extra bite and desire to play the tournament of their lives. The Black Sticks would be hoping to spring some surprises in the opening game which could catch their more experienced but predictable opponents off guard.Both male and female teams were in Holland for a fortnight preparing for the competition.And according to Osei Boakye, coach of the team, they put finishing touches to their preparations before retuning home for the big take-off.In a slight adjustment to the opening day schedule, the encounter between Egypt and Nigeria would be played first before the official ceremony to usher in the championship. The Egyptians were the first to arrive on Saturday night from Cairo followed by Nigeria and South Africa who it appears may have peaked just in time for the Hockey Nations Cup.The two-week competition will bring crack male and female hockey nations from across the continent and has attracted huge international media.The new national stadium which was officially commissioned on Monday July 6 by His Excellency President Mills, will host over 1,200 fans backed by the acclaimed national supporters union.The CEO of Ghana 2009 African Cup For Nations Mr. Magnus Rex Danquah has assured Ghanaians, Africans and the world that Ghana is ready to let the games begin.