I realize Illinois Week was a while back, but I thought I'd pass this along nonetheless. Statistically Speaking is one of my favorite stat-centric blogs, and Matt's statistical spidey-sense is not altogether impressed with Illinois' chances in 2008.
The major revelation for fans who couldn’t be less concerned with a team that had won 8 games over the previous 4 seasons was the play of running back Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall rushed for nearly 1700 yards and averaged 6.42 yards per rush. Of course, in limited action, Mendenhall averaged over 8 yards per rush in 2006 (640 yards), so maybe Zook should have gotten his stud into more games as an underclassmen. Unfortunately, Mendenhall will never carry the ball again for the Illini as he will now ply his trade in the NFL. He leaves behind 7 starters, including enigmatic quarterback Juice Williams. Williams is still much more dangerous as a runner, but he did improve his completion percentage from a piss-poor 39.5% in 2006 to a solid 57.3% in 2007. Still, his passer rating of 119.22 ranked only 81st in the nation. As long as Williams is the quarterback, the Illini will have trouble throwing the football. And without their home run hitter, Mendenhall, the offense as a whole will decline somewhat in 2008.