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>> 3-0 Illini Emerging Threat in Leaders Division

Illinois is 3-0 for the first time since 2001 and looks like a team to be taken seriously in the Big Ten Leaders Division.

The No. 24 Illini entered the Top 25 this week for the first time in three years after their 17-14 victory over then-No. 22 Arizona State.

A win over Western Michigan this week would give Illinois its first 4-0 start since 1951.

Illinois coach Ron Zook said he knew the defense would be better than many people predicted. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has improved as a passer, and A.J. Jenkins is 1 of the top receivers in the Big Ten.

Illinois has a favorable conference schedule, with Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan

and Wisconsin at home and Indiana, Purdue, Penn State and Minnesota on the road.

>>Zook Says QB Scheelhaase Shoulder OK After Injry

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase briefly left Saturday's win over Arizona State with a shoulder injury but head coach Ron Zook says he's fine and should have no problems playing Saturday.

Zook said Tuesday that the right-handed Scheelhaase bruised his throwing shoulder on a hit last Saturday. Freshman quarterback Reilly O'Toole briefly relieved Scheelhaase in the fourth quarter of No. 24 Illinois' 17-14 win. But Scheelhaase returned to throw the game-winning touchdown.

Zook also said that offensive tackle Corey Lewis will travel to New York this week to have his injured leg evaluated.

Lewis missed 2010 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He was projected to start this season but reinjured the leg early this year.

No. 24 Illinois takes on Western Michigan at home on Saturday.

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