Illinois Fighting Illini Vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers: Illinois, Minnesota Try To Halt Losing Skids

Illinois and Minnesota conclude their regular seasons on Saturday.

Both the Illinois Fighting Illini (6-5, 2-5 Big Ten) and Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-9, 1-6 Big Ten) enter Saturday's season finale on losing streaks, though the Illini have already secured bowl eligibility. Following a 6-0 start, the Illini succumbed to a backloaded conference schedule that included Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Gophers struggled out of the gate and have managed only some sporadic success this season.

There are stakes for the Illini, though, because a win would make them look more attractive to bowl game representatives. There is also mounting pressure on head coach Ron Zook. If they are to pick up their seventh win of the season, they're going to need an offensive revival; the Illini have not scored more than 17 points in a game since Oct. 8. Defensively, they've held up fine, giving up less than 300 total yards in three of their last five games (all losses).

Minnesota may be the cure for what ails, as the Gophers rank 12th in the Big Ten in total offense and 11th in total defense. Illinois opened as 10-1/2 point favorites.

For updates on this matchup, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more in-depth coverage, visit SB Nation's Illinois blog, Hail to the Orange, and SB Nation's Minnesota blog, The Daily Gopher. For more news and notes from around college football, visit SB Nation's NCAA football news hub.

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