Drinking the Kool Aid: is Illinois Football really better this year?

Well, some sports writers seem to think so; this is based on the fact that Illinois beat its first two opponents easily. Sure, one was a bad MAC team and one was a FCS team and, at times in the past the Illini has struggled with these sorts of teams.

Even the Sagarin ratings have them at no. 28.


Color me unconvinced.

To be fair: the defense has done all that you can ask a defense to do and the passing game looks sharp (albeit against weak opposition). But the running game hasn’t been that good.

And there is the past.

2011: included a 33-15 win over an Arkansas State team destined to go 10-3 and 56-3 over South Dakota State.
2012: 24-7 over a MAC team (coached by the current Illinois coach) and 44-0 over a very bad FCS team.
2013: Yes, the opener against Southern Illinois turned from a 38-17 lead to a nail biter. But then again, you had a 45-17 blow out win against Cincinnati (destined to go 9-3 in the regular season) and a 50-14 blowout of a bad MAC team.
2014: nail biter against an FCS team; but the non-power 5 team wins were against Western Kentucky (a bowl winner) and a 7-5 Texas State squad. In each case Illinois let a 42-2x lead slip a bit toward the end. These teams were considerably better than Kent State.

So, while 2014’s early games were closer than these, I chalk that up to better quality opposition.

Anyhow, other than the ordering of the games, I simply can’t say if Illinois is better or not.
Caveat: it is possible that Illinois is better but ends up with the same (or worse) record, simply due to the fact that some of the best prospects for a conference win are on the road.

So: what is in store for “my” teams next weekend:
Illinois travels to North Carolina (narrow loss to South Carolina, easy win over N. C. A&T). Tar Heels are an early 7.5 point favorite (too low?)
Texas hosts California who beat San Diego State easily and blew out Grambling (FCS) Toss up? Golden Bears are favored by 7, but Texas has played better opposition.
Navy hosts East Carolina, who beat FCS power Towson State and lost by 7 to Florida. Tough game. Navy is favored by 3.5. Too close to call, IMHO.
Notre Dame: lost its quarterback in a wild, narrow win over a Virginia team that got blown out by UCLA. They face Georgia Tech which blew out Tulane and an FCS team. Tech is favored by 1-2 points. But ND is more tested; Tech is not tested.

My picks: NC -7.5, Texas +7 (and to upset), ECU + 3.5 and to win outright, ND + 2 and to win outright.


September 14, 2015 - Posted by | college football, football |

1 Comment »

  1. […] I had warned about this earlier this week: […]

    Pingback by Illinois Football exposed….. « blueollie | September 19, 2015 | Reply

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