Football season is almost here!

Well, I have my tickets for the Illinois football season; it all starts this Friday night against Kent State.

Going in: Illinois went 6-6 in the regular season, finishing with wins over Penn State (last second field goal) and a blowout of a depleted Northwestern team. This came prior to a discouraging home blowout loss to Iowa. The best game: a 28-21 home upset of Minnesota. The bowl: a most unfortunate 35-18 whipping by Louisiana Tech.

But the big news is that Illinois fired its football coach a week before the game; the charge was that he mistreated injured players. I don’t know for sure what was going on, but to be honest, the coach was on the hot seat and most magazines were predicting 4-5 wins, at best. So why not do it now since it is going to be done anyway? The offensive coordinator has taken over; he had head coaching experience at Western Michigan..and in his final year his team lost to Tim Beckman’s Illinois squad 24-7…which was to be one of the 2 Illinois wins of the year.

Kent State: coming of a 2-9 year; they aren’t the team they were in 2012. They have a chance, but I see the 14 point spread as being about right.

The Illinois quarterback is the one who started last year’s season as the no. 1 quarterback. But he got dinged in the Texas State game, missed the Nebraska game and then got a broken leg late in the Purdue game. He had quite a bit of success: against I-AA Youngstown State, Western Kentucky (Conference USA) and Texas State (Sun Belt) and Purdue. He tried to play later in the season but was not as effective as his back up; that was probably due to the injury and due to the fact that the back up was a better runner.

I look for him to throw for a lot of yards in this game.

Late Saturday: there is the battle between Texas and Notre dame: this is a 6-6 team who got blown out in their bowl game against a 7-5 team who won their bowl on a last second field goal (getting a lucky call) against a 6-6 team.

Nevertheless interest is high. The cheapest Stub Hub ticket is 250.00!

Navy tunes up against Colgate and TCU travels to Minnesota on Friday night; the latter is an upset possibility, though I think that the Frogs have too much talent for the Gophers.

As far as what I expect to see on the season (revised from my earlier post):

Illinois: good news: the home schedule should be entertaining with games against Kent State, Western Illinois, Middle Tennessee, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Ohio State. The latter 3 could well be ranked in the top 25; Ohio State is currently ranked no. 1. Bad news: I see the Illini winning exactly 3 of these (guess which ones). There are road games against North Carolina, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State, Iowa and a Chicago “home game” versus Northwestern (they couldn’t get anyone to show up for the Thanksgiving weekend game at Champaign). Now add the fact that they fired their coach 1 week prior to the season; the campus was in turmoil to begin with, and now things are worse.

I am not sure that I see three road wins there; to go 6-6 they will have to score a couple of upsets along the way. I see anywhere between 3-9 (worst case) to 7-5 (best case); I think that 4-8 or 5-7 are the most likely. 6-6 or better would please me greatly. This will probably be the interim coach’s last year unless they go 6-6 or better.

Oh yes, the quarterback got a lot of hype, but he threw for big yards …against Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State.

Navy: First year in the American Athletic Conference. There are teams that Navy can compete with. But conference play will be a new experience.
I see: 6-6 (worst) to 9-3 best; 7-5 to 8-4 would be most likely, in my opinion. Notre Dame and Houston will be tough road tests. Now will I be able to make it to their bowl game, if there is one?

Texas: The non-conference slate features a game at Notre Dame, and home games against California and Rice. The Longhorns also travel to Baylor and TCU and have the annual affair against Oklahoma. Well, you can’t accuse Texas of having an easy schedule. My guess: 5-7 to 8-4 are possible, with 6-6 to 7-5 being the most likely. Maybe this year, make a bowl game and actually compete?

Notre Dame: Probably the best of “my” teams and they play Navy and Texas. That should make for interesting watching. The schedule: manageable. They have some tough games: at Clemson and Stanford; at home against Georgia Tech and USC. Texas is down this year and Navy can’t match ND in talent. So I’d say: 7-5 to 10-2 with 8-4 to 9-3 being the most plausible.

One beef: my two football magazines have ND ranked 9’th or 10’th. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What in the heck is this based on?

Yes, I went to the Music City Bowl and enjoyed it immensely. But the reality: they got a lucky call (end of the first half) and a last second field goal to beat a 8-4 LSU team. It was a great game, but it featured two mediocre teams with big names, period. There is no reason to rank ND this highly; I might understand 20-25, but even that would be a stretch.


September 2, 2015 - Posted by | college football, football | ,

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