College football version of Big Ten/ACC Challenge on tap in Week 3

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Sep 12, 2015; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Jaylen Dunlap (28) celebrates his blocked punt which was run back for a touchdown by Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Marchie Murdock (16) against the Western Illinois Leathernecks at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois at North Carolina

For some reason I’m expecting Illinois’ 48-1.5 average scoring differential to take a hit in this one. In the aftermath of the whole Tim Beckman mess, the Illini’s two game performance against Kent State and Western Illinois shouldn’t be discounted.

North Carolina outplayed South Carolina for most of the Tar Heels’ 17-13 loss. Senior QB Marquise Williams’ was not on his game. His three picks and Chris Carson’s 57 yard touchdown run sealed the Heels’ fate.

Despite his game one performance, Williams (34 Total TD in 2014) is one of the nation’s best dual threats and a top 15 quarterback overall. Expect him to thrive against an Illinois defense that has dominated inferior foes. He’ll try to avoid safety Taylor Barton (3 INT).

The Illini secondary will have a tougher time with UNC’s speedy receiving options, Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard and Quinshad Davis. Switzer is also a threat in the return game. As a freshman he led the nation with five kick return TD’s. RB Elijah Hood is taking pressure off Williams in the running game. Hood hit South Carolina up for 138 yards on the ground and scored twice last week vs North Carolina A&T.

Illinois should score some. Wes Lunt was a God-send at quarterback. He is the main reason Illinois made it to postseason play in 2014. He’s off to a good start; completing 67.7 percent of his passes with 5 TD’s and an interception. Josh Ferguson is an under the radar back in the Big Ten. WR Geronimo Allison (10 Rec, 181 Yards, TD) has become Lunt’s favorite target in the absence of injured Mike Dudek (76-1038-6). Allison did catch 41 balls last year.

Despite recruiting rankings that should produce better results, North Carolina was flat-out atrocious on defense last year. The effort vs South Carolina gives an indication that some of the issues are fixed under new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. The records were the same last year (6-7), but the talent on the rosters is not comparable.

Line: UNC by 9

Heels roll at home 41-24