Rutgers football vs. Illinois: What to watch for

rutgers football

Rutgers football should be sending a thank you note to the Big Ten for the cross-conference games it was assigned this season. The Scarlet Knights are lucky to have one of those games be against Illinois this weekend in a game that Rutgers football could and probably should win.

Rutgers, currently 1-2, could even out its record this weekend with a win over Illinois. This is a game Rutgers absolutely needs to capitalize on and take advantage of to boost its record and get two wins in. Illinois is 0-3 and will be hungry for a win, so it cannot be overlooked. Potentially one of Illinois’ only chances to get a win this year, Saturday will be a big day for both teams. Let’s look at what Illinois has done this season and what Rutgers needs to do to walk out of this game with a .500 record.

Illinois has yet to win a game

So far the Fighting Illini have played and lost to Wisconsin, Purdue and Minnesota. This will also be their first cross-conference game of the season, and it seems to be a pretty fair matchup. Rutgers and Illinois are both far from the strongest teams in the Big Ten, making this an interesting game.

Who will be at quarterback for Illinois?

Illinois football is having trouble with its quarterback position. It hasn’t quite pinned one down yet, and no one is stepping up and doing a great job. Part of the trickiness here is starter Brandon Peters had to sit out of the Purdue and Minnesota games after testing positive for coronavirus. He will also need to sit out against Rutgers, per the two-week quarantine period.

Illinois has not announced who will be starting on Saturday, but it seems there could be a chance it will be fourth-string Coran Taylor, who has played the most out of the other quarterbacks. Taylor’s stats are nothing spectacular, as he’s only completed 23 of 46 passes. However, he’s averaging 189.5 passing yards a game, while Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral averages just 155.7. This doesn’t seem to mean much though, as Vedral has played a lot more minutes than Taylor. It would be good luck for Rutgers to face a fourth-string quarterback, but with backup Isaiah Williams back in practice, the Scarlet Knights could also be up against someone who has only thrown the ball three times this season.


This is a game that Rutgers football needs. It’s also a game it can win. This may be the most confident I’ve been about the Scarlet Knights going into a game in a while. The extenuating COVID circumstances only give Rutgers a further advantage over the complicated roster that Illinois has had to work with. Illinois will be coming into this game wanting their its win, so Rutgers is going to have to match that intensity the whole way through. That being said, I predict Rutgers will come out on top 31-10. The Rutgers defense will shut down Illinois early, and this will be a solid win for the Scarlet Knights.

Photo by Kelly Carmack | The Daily Targum