The Indiana State football team will be heading to Normal, IL to face No. 7-ranked Illinois State this Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. at Hancock Stadium.

Illinois State is a familiar rival to the Sycamores, as this will be the 71st meeting between these two teams. Indiana State beat this team 28-23 last season during a five-game winning streak. The Illinois State Redbirds, however, lead the series 37-31-2. The series dates all the way back to 1936. 

The Sycamores have not won a game in Normal since 1997. Illinois State Head Football Coach Brock Spack boasts a 7-3 record against the Sycamores since he’s been with the Redbirds. Illinois State has a current overall record of 5-2.

“You have to realize the fight in this team.” Indiana State Head Football Coach Curt Mallory said about going into Normal, Illinois. “They’re a talented team and we’ll have to stick together as a family if we want to win.”

Indiana State comes into this game off of a tough, 42-23 loss to No. 3-ranked South Dakota State University Saturday. 

Illinois State comes into this game after picking up a pair of key road wins against in-state rivals. The Redbirds have a balanced offense statistically as they have a total of 1,200 passing yards and 1,195 rushing yards. Illinois State is home to 2018 FCS Walter Payton Award finalist James Robinson, who is averaging 106 yards a game and has 12 total touchdowns. The last loss Illinois State faced was against the No. 1-ranked North Dakota State Bisons, 37-3.

The Sycamores have a strong rushing attack as junior running back Peterson Kerlegrand reached his third 100-yard rushing game of the season against South Dakota State after completing the same task against Eastern Kentucky and Dayton. Kerlegrand averages 6.6 yards a carry and 92.8 yards per game. 

Defensively the Sycamores have redshirt senior Jonas Griffith who is ranked 12th for all-time tackles. He has 62 total tackles so far this season. Indiana State ranks 13th nationally and tops the Missouri Valley Conference in fewest penalties with just 31 on the season.

Sycamore walk-on quarterback Kurtis Wilderman made his first career start against SDSU with 196 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. Indiana State turned over the ball four times last week which is the most times they have lost the ball all year.

Illinois State senior defensive back Luther Kirk leads the Redbirds in tackles with 46. They have caused 11 turnovers as a unit this season, so ball security will be an important factor for the Sycamores. 

This is Indiana State’s consecutive ranked opponent. Against the Sycamores, Illinois State leads at home as they hold a record of 25-9. Since 2010 the Redbirds have left six of the nine meetings victorious, including five straight from 2011-15.