Week 5 football preview

Northwestern (2-1) at No. 24 Illinois (4-0)

When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.


Radio: WIND-560 AM, WGN-720 AM

Web: ESPN3.com

IllinoisNorthwesternWhat you need to know: This year’s game may lack the hoopla of last season’s meeting at Wrigley Field, but this still should be an exciting one. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa is expected to return to the field for the first time since rupturing his Achilles tendon against Iowa last season. He was one of the nation’s most efficient quarterbacks before his injury. The game could actually include four quarterbacks with Northwestern using Persa and sophomore Kain Colter and Illinois utilizing sophomore Nathan Scheelhaase and freshman Reilly O’Toole. The Illini dominated Northwestern in the second half of last year’s game and won 48-27. Illinois is hosting its fifth consecutive home and is 4-0 for the first time since 1951. Northwestern has had plenty of time to prepare for the Illini. The Wildcats had last week off following their 21-14 loss to Army.

Scott Powers’ prediction: Illinois 27, Northwestern 24

Northern Illinois (2-2) at Central Michigan (1-3)

When, where: 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Kelly-Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

TV: None

Radio: WSCR-670 AM

Web: ESPN3.com

>Nothern IllinoisCentral MichiganWhat you need to know: Northern Illinois bounced back from its lopsided loss to Wisconsin with a 47-30 win over Cal Poly last week. The Huskies jumped out to a 27-0 lead. Chandler Harnish threw for two touchdowns and ran for one in the win and now owns the school record for most career touchdowns with 67. Central Michigan has lost its past three games, including a 45-7 loss to Michigan State last week. The Chippewas haven’t looked great on either side of the ball in recent weeks. Northern Illinois’ offense could have a big day. Central Michigan has allowed 40-plus points in its last two games.

Powers’ prediction: Northern Illinois 49, Central Michigan 20

Illinois State (2-2) at North Dakota State (3-0)

When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.

TV: None

Radio: None

Web: GoRedbirds.com

Illinois StateNorth Dakota StateWhat you need to know: Illinois State evened its record with a 20-13 win over South Dakota State last week. Tyrone Walker had a career-high 10 receptions for 143 yards and one touchdown in the win. Three of the Redbirds’ four games this season have been decided by seven points. North Dakota State is considered one of the FCS’ top teams. It defeated Minnesota 37-24 last week and has scored 37 or more points in all its wins.

Powers’ prediction: North Dakota State 42, Illinois State 20

Eastern Illinois (1-3) at Southeast Missouri (0-3)

When, where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Houck Stadium in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

TV: None

Radio: None

Web: EIUPanthers.com

Southeast Missouri StateEastern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Eastern Illinois hasn’t found the win column since defeating Illinois State in the opening week. The Panthers lost their second consecutive close game last week, losing 28-21 to Jacksonville State. Eastern Illinois’ offense scored seven points in the second half. Its run game was contained in the loss. Southeast Missouri is still searching for its first win after losing 38-31 to Tennessee Tech last week. Its defense has allowed 38 or more points in every game this season.

Powers’ prediction: Eastern Illinois 34, Southeast Missouri 27

Southern Illinois (2-1) at Western Illinois (1-3)

When, where: 3 p.m. Saturday at Hanson Stadium in Macomb, Ill.

TV: None

Radio: None

Web: SIUSalukis.com, GoLeathernecks.com

Southern IllinoisWestern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Southern Illinois has owned Western Illinois throughout most of the past decade. The Salukis have won their past nine meetings. Southern Illinois is coming off a 20-18 win over Missouri State. Redshirt freshman kicker Jackson MacLachlan made two field goals, including the game-winner with 50 seconds remaining to give the Salukis the win. Their defense has been dominant against FCS opponents this season. Western Illinois has lost the last two weeks, but the Leathernecks faced two of the better teams they will see this season in Missouri and Northern Iowa. Their offense could be in for another long day. Western Illinois has scored more than 10 points just once this season.

Powers’ prediction: Southern Illinois 28, Western Illinois 10