Illinois Football exposed…..

I had warned about this earlier this week:

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.

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.

And so today’s game went: Final was 48-14, North Carolina. Illinois’ second unit got a TD against the NC backups with under 50 seconds to go.

The stats were’t as lopsided as one might expect: 471-299 in NC’s favor. Illinois did throw one interception (which set up a TD) and failed on 4’th and goal from the 2. The Illini also missed a “last second” 57 yard field goal (long shot) and a 45 yard kick (off the upright) when it was “only” 20-7.

But the special teams were terrible: NC got a 21 yard punt return, 44 yard return (set up a field goal) and an 85 yard return for a touchdown.

Screen shot 2015-09-19 at 3.34.03 PM

The starting offense did generate one touchdown; the drive featured a nice 52 yard off tackle run.

Screen shot 2015-09-19 at 3.34.35 PM

But the bottom line hasn’t changed that much: the Illini are trying to compete against Power Five competition with mostly Conference USA/Mountain West talent.

The good news is that one Conference USA team is on the schedule (next week; Middle Tennessee) and it appears that Minnesota (who beat Kent State 10-7; yes the same team the Illini beat 52-3, albeit in weird circumstances) and Penn State has been less than overwhelming.

So, I believe that between 1-4 more wins remain for the season, with 2-3 being the most likely outcome.

Highlights are here:


September 19, 2015 - Posted by | college football, football |

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