Joel Klatt is locking in his pick for Saturday’s matchup between Illinois and Michigan.

As the Illini prepare to travel to Ann Arbor, one major pundit in their back pocket is the defense. Currently, Illinois ranks No. 3 in scoring defense (12.5 points per game), No. 5 in pass defense (161 yards per game) and No. 6 in run defense (85.9 yards per game).

Much like the Wolverines, the Illini trust leading rusher Chase Brown to be the focal point of the offensive production. In a sense, Klatt can see parallels between the 2 programs, thus giving Illinois perhaps a slight advantage.

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“What I think is one of (Michigan’s) stiffest tests against a defense that’s good at preventing the run and is statistically one of the better defenses in the country,” Klatt said. “This game is interesting because you’re pitting two of the guys from a RB perspective that get more carries than almost anybody else in the country.”

For Klatt, the biggest difference between the 2 schools is the run defense. Michigan currently leads the nation in yards allowed per game (72.7) and is 3rd in yards per attempt (2.6). Klatt also thinks Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito will need to be perfect if the Illini stand a chance.

“Michigan has the advantage obviously because they have the No. 1 rush defense and they’re better as a whole than Illinois, particularly with Illinois sliding a little bit,” Klatt said. “I think Tommy DeVito is going to need to have his best game… but this game isn’t about DeVito and Illinois.”

Ultimately, Klatt believes the outcome of the game will say more about Michigan’s prowess as a legit College Football Playoff contender. In the end, Klatt is certain that the Wolverines will improve to 11-0, and cover the spread.

“It’s about Michigan. It’s about Michigan’s maturity,” Klatt explained. “How badly do you want to play in a game where both teams are undefeated and it’s a game that will literally be legendary in a legendary rivalry? How badly do you want to play in an undefeated matchup against Ohio State?”