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Big Ten Fired Up Foes Football

FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2018, file photo, Illinois coach Lovie Smith stands near players and coaching staff during the team's NCAA college football game against Kent State in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Holly Hart, File)

1. Keep the takeaway train rolling.

Purdue had six turnovers in its first three games -- all losses -- but only two in its last two games, victories against Boston College and Nebraska. Quarterback David Blough has thrown only one interception in 151 passes, and that was on a trick play against Missouri. The Illinois defense, meanwhile, has feasted on turnovers with at least two takeaways in every game. The Illini picked off three Rutgers passes in last week's road victory. Continuing to convert turnovers into scores could be the difference.

2. Don't let Blough go off.

Since emerging as the starter from a time-splitting situation with Elijah Sindelar, Blough has passed for 1,196 yards in three games and completed 68 percent of his throws with seven touchdowns and the one pick. Illinois coach Lovie Smith stressed the importance of applying more pressure: "We have to do a better job with that. ... Eventually, it's going to get to one-on-one situations, and we're going to need to be able to win more times than we have so far." The Illini's eight sacks are tied for 10th in the Big Ten -- only Wisconsin has fewer -- and their pass defense ranks 13th, allowing 289.4 yards per game.

3. Build on last week's momentum.

The Illini haven't won back-to-back Big Ten games since 2014. The victory at Rutgers snapped a 13-game conference losing streak. They now return to Memorial Stadium, where they will wear their "Gray Ghost" uniforms for homecoming. The chance to have a winning Big Ten record should be motivation to get fans in their seats for the afternoon game. Will Illinois enjoy a home-field advantage?

Shannon Ryan's pick: Purdue has momentum now behind Blough. The Boilermakers aren't Rutgers. Purdue 32, Illinois 24.

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