Here are three keys for Illinois for Wednesday afternoon's Texas Bowl matchup against Baylor.
1. Keep Robert Griffin off the field: A no-brainer here. Illinois has the type of rushing attack that, when clicking, can control an entire game. Illinois' offensive line needs to impose its will and create room for All-Big Ten selection Mikel Leshoure, bruising backup Jason Ford and quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Leshoure certainly brings big-play ability to the table, but Illinois would really benefit from long, sustained scoring drives against Griffin and the Bears.
2. Get Corey Liuget into the backfield: Illinois looked like one of the Big Ten's top defenses for stretches this season, and the Illini were at their best when defensive tackle Corey Liuget bullied his way into the backfield. Liuget is a legit NFL prospect who can change games by blowing up the interior line. The junior has 10 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hurries and 3.5 sacks. His ability to get after Griffin will be huge in this game.
3. Start the game with passion: The Illini came out flat against both Fresno State and Minnesota, and they paid the price with damaging November losses. We've seen this month that bowl games bring out different emotions in teams, and Illinois needs to be locked in from the get-go in what likely will resemble a road-game environment at Reliant Stadium. The Illini were a good first-half team for much of the season, and a quick start against Baylor will provide some confidence.