CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Former Illinois tight end Daniel Barker returns to his old stomping grounds this weekend when Michigan State plays at No. 16 Illinois on Saturday. Barker is using his grad transfer fifth year to play for the Spartans, after he went into the transfer portal earlier this year.

Barker was one of the most reliable pass catchers for the Illini in his four seasons in Champaign, tying for the team lead in touchdowns last year with five. This season with the Spartans, Barker has 14 receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown.

“Everybody knows DJ, he’s No. 9, he’ll be out there on Saturday,” Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said. “He’s a very talented player and I think our guys, one thing they probably didn’t have to do is a scouting report on him. They know who he is, what his strengths are and the things we’ve got to be aware of. When he made the decision to go in the portal, wished him the best of luck, said take advantage of every opportunity that you can and to help him through it. Obviously he landed in our conference, he’s been able to accomplish some things up there, hopefully he’s found what he’s looking for.”

Illinois and Michigan State kickoff at 2:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network. The Illini (7-1, 4-1 B1G) are 17.5-point favorites over the Spartans (3-5, 1-4 B1G), who have lost five out of their last six games.