|Illini trying to end 2-year losing streak against Indiana|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 18 September 2007 22:04|
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -Ron Zook says he won't use the fact Illinois hasn't beaten Indiana in his two-plus seasons in Champaign as motivation for Saturday's game between the two teams.|
Not his style, Zook says.
Just don't believe the Illini's 0-2 record since 2005 against their eastern neighbor is far from Zook's thoughts.
``Like I told our team last night, this is the third time we're gonna' play and we haven't won yet,'' Zook said during his regular Tuesday news conference.
``Our programs are very, very similar. We're both kind of improving at the same rate. The thing that they've done is they've beaten us twice.''
If the Illini's back-to-back losses against Indiana don't give Saturday's game in Bloomington extra significance for Illinois, those similarities might.
Indiana enters the game at 3-0, with talented sophomore quarterback Kellen Lewis leading an offense that's averaging 478 yards a game.
Illinois is 2-1, and has consecutive wins for the first time since Zook's first two games in 2005 and comes off a 41-20 dissection of Syracuse on the road.
How Lewis fares against the Illinois defense figures to be one of the keys.
The Illini haven't allowed an opposing back to run for more than 100 yards, while Lewis has 317 yards rushing, including 199 last weekend in a 41-24 win over Akron. He's sixth in the Big Ten in rushing, right behind Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall.
Lewis, a sophomore, also has passed for 643 yards and nine touchdowns while throwing three interceptions.
``He can beat you with his feet and his arm,'' Zook said. ``How do you defend that?''
Zook also said he hasn't forgotten Lewis had one of his first strong games last season in Champaign. Lewis rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown and passed for 240 as the Hoosiers came back from a 15-point first quarter deficit to win 34-32.
``He was just using athletic ability and the skill around him,'' Zook said.
Linebacker Brit Miller compared Lewis to Illini quarterback Juice Williams. Both can be more dangerous when a play breaks down.
``For the most part, you don't account for the quarterback in a lot of breakdown situations,'' he said. ``It's not about the straightaway speed, it's about their elusiveness.''
Williams is coming off arguably his best college game. The sophomore threw for 97 yards and a touchdown, ran for 90 more and another TD.
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