Having spent most of my time this season covering the Big 12 Conference, I will put myself in the same category as many of the Baylor football players and fans. I don't know too much about the 2010 Fighting Illini; nor do I know much about the Big Ten Conference for that matter. So I spent some time trying to "Get to Know" Illinois. Here is what I found.
Head Coach: Ron Zook
Record: (6-6, 4-4)
Conference Rank: 4th in the Big Ten
Key Wins: @ Penn State 33-13, @ Northwestern 48-27
Key Loses: vs Missouri 13-23, @ Michigan 65-67, 3-OT
2010 FBS Rankings
Passing Yards: 143.4 YDS.....115th
Rushing Yards: 242.3 YDS.....13th
Points For: 32.1 PTS........34th
Points Against: 24.3 PTS........53rd
Playing in the Big TEN, this team can run the ball. As you can see, well over 200 yards per game ranking them 13th in the nation. The Fighting Illini are led by Junior Running Back, Mikel Leshoure. He alone had 252 carries in '10, totaling 1,513 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.
I'm thinking that Baylor University is pretty evenly matched with Illinois. The Bears finished 4th in the Big XII Conference, with a (7-5, 4-4) record. Illinois and Baylor both struggled to close out the season. BU lost its last 3 ballgames, whereas Illinois dropped 3 of its final 4. Baylor ranks in the top 30 in the country for all offensive categories: passing, rushing, and total points. The green & gold just tend to give up more points, nearly 30 a game, ranking them 83rd in the FBS.
So for the Texas Bowl, played at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Wednesday December 29th at 5pm on ESPN, I'm predicting that it'll be a high scoring affair. That's nothing new for Baylor fans. But what is new for the "Sic 'Em Nation" is an actual bowl appearance. First bowl game since 1994...that's 16 years. Not only is Baylor playing in a bowl game, I'm predicting they'll win this one.
My prediction: Baylor Wins: 35-21.