blueollie

Drinking the Blue and Orange Kool Aid by the gallon

Yes, the Illini are 2-0. How often does that happen? Well, it depends on when the first “game against a power 5 team” is scheduled….

2011: wins over Arkansas State and South Dakota State (2-0…4-6 the rest)
2012: Western Michigan first, then Arizona State…ooops 1-1 (1-9 the rest)
2013: Southern Illinois and Cincinnati (latter WAS an impressive upset) (2-8 the rest
2014: Youngstown State and Western Kentucky (4-6 the rest..but did finish 2-0)
2015: Kent State and Western Illinois (3-7 the rest)
2016: Murray State and…ooops…North Carolina at home (1-1, 2-8 the rest)
2017: Ball State and Western Kentucky: 2-0…the rest?

Oh, what about road wins: 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1: 5, count them, 5 road wins over the previous 6 seasons.

Maybe I won’t book Big Ten Championship tickets just yet…

Workout notes: yesterday, weights: rotator cuff, hip hikes, toe raises, 5 sets of 10 pull ups, incline presses: 10 x 135, 4 x 160, 7 x 150, military (dumbbell) 10 x 50, 10 x 45 (standing) 10 x 90 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine, rope skips:55, 86. 4 mile walk; yoga later that night.
today: 6 mile walk, 4.2 segment in 53:41 (27:09, 26:32) Had a hard time getting going.

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September 15, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Illinois smothers sloppy Western Kentucky

Yes, I did get a 16 mile walk first; 5.1 mile course (Bradley Park) plus a 10.05 (to the River plus goose loop) plus a bit more than 1. It was 4:11 or thereabouts.

And this morning, I got in a 4.2 walk, untimed.

Now about the game

The short: the Illini were 7.5 point underdogs and ended up winning 20-7, winning total yards 300 to 244; WKU was held to 6 rushing yards.

The defense could not have played much better. The line got 2 sacks (and a big strip sack), multiple hurries (including forcing a pick-6) and drew multiple “offensive holding” penalties. The linebackers and defensive backs tackled very well in the open field; WKU had few “yards after catch”. WKU had one modest drive end up dying “on downs” while in field goal range (1’st quarter) and one drive assisted by a questionable (IMHO) “targeting penalty” and one late hit (IMHO, justified penalty call) that ended with the big strip sack.

WKU’s only TD came in the 4’th when they got the ball at the Illni 29 after an interception.

The caveat: WKU did not appear to be well coached; they dropped multiple passes (even early in the game), had trouble lining up in the correct spot; were downright confused at times. They also had an “unexpected snap”; they reminded me of a team doing a preseason scrimmage, not of a team playing its second game.

WKU also had two punts travel less than 30 yards.

The Illini offense: not great. The first field goal was set up by field position following short punts (2x yards each) on WKU’s first two possessions. There was a decent 2’nd quarter drive for a field goal and the first drive of the second half WAS impressive; that made it 20-0. That drive took almost 7 minutes.

BUT: the illini figured out that WKU’s only chance would be for the Illini to turn it over, hence they played it very close to the vest, especially in the second half. That was the right strategy, for THIS game.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | Leave a comment

Chiefs win regular season finale, Illini squeak by Ball State in football opener

So, this was a game of ends (of regular season, though the Chiefs have a playoff game next week) and beginnings (the Illini who will probably not go bowling this year)

Before I forget, I did start today with a 4 mile run in West Peoria (out and back); didn’t time but it was just under 12 minutes per mile. Ugh.

Baseball

It was a tight 1-1 pitcher’s duel up until the bottom of the 6’th (when Quad Cities put in a relief pitcher) Peoria had runners at 2’nd and 3’rd with one out when the next batter struck out. But then came a double, 2 singles and a walk which lead to 5 runs. Then Peoria added a home run in the bottom of the 8’th to lead 7-1 going into the 9’th. The second Peoria relief pitcher took over and gave up a walk, single, walk, wild pitch, double to get Quad Cities 3 runs to close to 7-4, but the 3’rd relief pitcher got the 3’rd out.

Peoria plays Quad Cities next week in the playoffs; QC has the best record in the league.

Football

Perfect day. The Illini were outgained 375-216 in yards (171 rush, 204 pass) and gave up drives of 80, 77, and 75 yards. But a miscue (fumble after a completed pass), punt return (4’th quarter) and a key sack with under 1 minute to go helped Illinois pull it out 24-21.

The first Illini drive went no where but on BSU’s first possession, they fumbled after a completed pass and the Illini ran the fumble to the 16 where the Illini hit their star wide receiver over the middle for a touchdown. A fancy 2 point conversion failed.

Ball State promptly drove it 80 yards to take a 7-6 lead.

But in the second quarter, it appeared that the Illini were taking control; two long drives lead to a field goal and touchdown and a 16-7 lead at the half.

Then came the third quarter, where the Illini did nothing and Ball state had drives of 70 and 77 yards. It was now 21-16 going into the 4’th quarter.

The Illini did nothing with an interception that was returned to the 30 and they missed a field goal with just over 5 minutes to play.

But late in the game the defense forced a punt and the star wide receiver returned it 52 yards to set up the winning touchdown drive (with 2 point conversion)

Still 2 minutes remained and Ball State drove it to the 33, when the Illini defense made a big sack. BSU got some of the yardage back but had to settle for a 54 yard field goal attempt with 5 seconds to go..the low kick was blocked. (though the refs missed a roughing penalty as the person who blocked the kick did not hit the kicker; it was another player).

The good news: great game between evenly matched teams. Bad news: Ball state won 4 games last year and are toward the bottom of the MAC.

The plays of the game for me were the punt return and the big sack.

Good crowd for the final Chiefs regular season home game.

We had to dress warmer than normal.

Love this fan’s shirt.

Football the next day.

Ball State on a drive.

Half time: high school bands with the Illini band.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | baseball, college football, football, running | , | Leave a comment

Pre-packing entertainment: college football memories

Oh yeah, I am painfully aware of the fiasco in the Senate. I’ve had some things to say and I am getting way more responses on Twitter than I am used to.

My political account is here:

Now if I could remove just ONE politician from office (by edict) : well, it would be Trump since he is unstable and has the nuclear codes. But if he were a stable person (and just did stuff that I didn’t like politically), then I’d remove McConnell, as he has quite a bit of political skill.

Now for the post Since I am talking about disasters and dumpster fires and NOT talking about my own footraces, that means Illinois football.
I’ve had season tickets for 6 years (and I did see them a couple of times in person..one was a 51-3 loss to USC in the 1990s)

I also went to 4 years of Navy games (and caught a couple of road games) and 9 years of University of Texas games.

Now Navy and Texas were much more successful, overall, than Illinois. In the 6 years I’ve had season tickets, 7-6 and 6-7 were the BEST records.

So riddle me this: (aside from the singular 51-3 loss I talked about): who got beat the worst at home among Texas, Navy and Illinois? (for a true home game, not a “road home game”)

That’s right: TEXAS.

I am not counting the 46-3 loss in the Cotton Bowl to a strong Miami team.

The 1988 Texas team got annihilated 66-15 at home by Houston (quarterbacked by future Heisman trophy winner Andre Ware) and the 1989 team got smeared 50-7 by Baylor. And there was the 1976 team that got drummed 30-0 by Houston at home and 27-3 by Texas A&M.

Navy: while I did see Navy get stomped 33-0 by Notre Dame in 1980, that was in Giants stadium in New Jersey..same with the 35-0 pounding by Houston. But at home, the worst loss was 30-14 to Syracuse (who had future NFL greats Art Monk and Joe Morris).

But Illinos: in the 6 years that I watched them at home, well, they lost a lot of games but, as a rule, they never lost by 30 points or more at home the way that Texas did.

2011: 31-14 to Michigan (17 points). 2012: 52-24 to La. Teach (ok, it was up to 52-17 when La. Tech let up), 35-7 to Penn State , 2013: 56-32 to Wisconsin and 60-35 to Ohio State, 2014: 30-14 to Iowa, 2015: 28-3 to Ohio State. 2016: 40-17 to Minnesota (misleading), 34-10 to Western Michigan, 48-23 to North Carolina, 28-0 to Iowa (ok, 4 losses by 20+ points is a lot).

But nothing as bad as what I saw with Texas; no 30+ point losses at home. The biggest spread was 28 points.

Weird, huh?

July 26, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

What’s in store for Illinois Football this year?

Ok, time to speculate on what might happen to Illinois football.

I’ve heard it said that Illinois regressed between 2015 and 2016. I am not so sure.
Yes, Illinois went 5-7 in 2015 and 3-9 in 2016. BUT:
1) the 5-7 record was against a schedule that featured 8 Big Ten games; the 3-9 featured 9 Big Ten games.
In 2015, the Illini went 2-6 (narrow win vs. Nebraska at home, easy win at Purdue); the 2016 version went 2-7, winning easily at Rutgers and narrowly at home vs. Michigan State.

2. As far as the non-conference schedule, in 2015 they had two easy wins vs bad opponents, a blowout loss to North Carolina and a very narrow win vs. Middle Tennessee (missed field goal at the very end). In 2016, the Illini faced North Carolina and a strong Western Michigan team (both blowout losses) and one very bad FCS team (easy win)

3. In 2015, two of the wins were, well very fortunate. As I stated earlier, Middle Tennessee missed a 41 yard field goal at the end and the game against Nebraska: well, let’s just say that Nebraska had the game all but won and had some terrible clock management with about 1:2x to play and Illinois out of time outs. Those could have easily been losses.

On the other hand, Illinois really should have won the Purdue game at home; they made some key mistakes in regulation and in overtime.

So what is in store? Via ESPN

Sat, Sept 2 vs Ball State 68.7% -11.2 (104) —
Sat, Sept 9 vs Western Kentucky 52.0% -5.3 (80) —
Fri, Sept 15 @ South Florida 14.5% 3.9 (47) —
Fri, Sept 29 vs Nebraska 36.4% 1.6 (56) —
Sat, Oct 7 @ Iowa 13.5% 5.4 (40) —
Sat, Oct 14 vs Rutgers 56.2% -7.4 (88) —
Sat, Oct 21 @ Minnesota 25.5% -1.4 (68) —
Sat, Oct 28 vs Wisconsin 6.3% 17.5 (9) —
Sat, Nov 4 @ Purdue 49.0% -9.5 (97) —
Sat, Nov 11 vs Indiana 33.2% 1.0 (59) —
Sat, Nov 18 @ Ohio State 0.8% 29.1 (1) —
Sat, Nov 25 vs Northwestern 16.3% 8.8 (29)

What this means: Illinois is favored in 3 games (Ball State, Western Kentucky, Rutgers), and almost even vs. Purdue.
Best chances for upsets: Nebraska and Indiana at home, Minnesota on the road.

My take:

1) Western Kentucky is underrated. They split with Louisiana Tech last year; I really do not see the Illini winning this game.
2) As far as Illinois vs Purdue: the visiting team has won the last 5 games. Maybe we will see a 6’th?

I can really take nothing for granted; not even Ball State (though the Illini really should win that game).

My best guess:
6-6 if everything goes right (wins over Ball State, Rutgers, Purdue, the 3 of (WKU, Neb, MN, IN, NW)
2-10 if everything goes wrong (Ball State, Rutgers)

Realistically: 4-8 (a lot like Beckman’s 2’nd team), with wins over Ball State, Rutgers, Purdue, and ONE of (WKU, Neb, MN, IN, NW) This closely aligns with the above ESPN model, that has Illinois winning 3.7 games.

The bottom line is that the Illini lost almost all of their best players from last year, save the star wide receiver who hurt his knee the last two years in a row; will be the same?

Most of the magazines are saying 2-10 to 3-9.

Fan note: the fact that I made up a spreadsheet of Illinois games (season tickets), Illinois State games (maybe 3?), Colts games (maybe 2?) and Bears games (1-2?) means nothing. 🙂

Workout notes: 5 treadmill miles in 1:02:15 (walking); thunderstorms outside.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | Leave a comment

Thrilling finish to the National Championship game and pick plays

Like many college football fans, I was spellbound by Clemson’s 35-31 thriller over Alabama. Clearly, these really were the best two football teams in the land, and they played an “instant classic” game; it reminded me of the Texas vs. USC thriller so many years ago.

But this game had some controversy toward the end. Because I follow Notre Dame (one of “my” teams, albeit behind Navy, Texas and Illinois), I remembered this “pick play” which DID draw an “offensive pass interference” penalty.

ndfsupickplay

But this play did NOT:

Why? This article has a nice explanation of the difference. Roughly speaking: it isn’t illegal if you can get the defenders to run into each other, but one isn’t allowed to block downfield (not past 1 yard).

Here is another article about these type of pass patterns (albeit at the NFL level)

January 11, 2017 Posted by | college football, football, NFL | Leave a comment

Armed Forces Bowl 2016: Navy loses a heartbreaker to Louisiana Tech 48-45

One of our mini-vacations was to go to Fort Worth to see the Armed Forces Bowl between Navy and Louisiana Tech. Navy came in with losses to Temple in the AAC Championship game (34-10) and to Army 21-17. Louisiana Tech lost a shootout to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA championship game, though they had defeated WKU in the regular season. I saw this bowl in 2013.

So it was no. 2 Conference USA vs. no. 2 AAC, and it was a great game. Navy piled up 459 total yards, including 300 on the ground; Louisiana Tech got 497, with 409 coming via the air.

Tech won 48-45, but it was quite a shootout, with the winning points coming on a field goal on the last play of the game.

The Bulldogs started things off with a big kick return from half of their two man wrecking crew; that set them up at the Navy 16 and the Bulldogs punched it in. Navy fumbled on their second play from scrimmage and the Bulldogs answered with a field goal to go up 10-0 early. The teams settled down, and aside from a rare punt, it was score, score, score.

Navy went in to the half trailing 31-24.

The second half saw Navy eat up 7 minutes to tie the game at 31. Tech fumbled in scoring position on their next position but Navy had to punt. Then Tech scored to go up 38-31; but the Midshipmen answered.

latechnavy20162

Tech scored again in the 4’th to take a brief lead. Then the Mids got the ball back, lost their starting quarterback (who was 3’rd team at the start of the season) only to have the backup run for a touchdown on his first touch. 45-45! But that left 3:46 on the clock, and the Midshipmen had used their timeouts. So the Bulldogs moved the ball and wisely milked the clock, which enabled them to kick the winning field goal on the final play of the game.

Overall, it was wild. Navy complained about some calls. One pass interference call, you can see in a gif file. The Navy defender did tug at the arm..which is a penalty.

navy_pick

But this hand fighting was overlooked on other plays; my guess is that the Tech receiver, being an outstanding player, got the benefit of the doubt. And no. 5 just killed up; 200+ receiving yards.

latechnavy20161

la_tech_td_big

My photos

The game itself

The Bulldog offense lines up

latechoffense

latechoffense2

Navy’s offense

navyoffense

Navy’s defense regroups

navyregroup

High drama at the end; 17 seconds to go; the Tech band in the background.

highdramaattheend

Before and after the game

Where I did my exercise walk prior to leaving for the game: this old golf course has been converted into a park with sidewalk trails; it includes a dog park.

oldgolfcourseacross

Barbara and Jacob near the Davy O’Bryan statue on the TCU campus.

babsjacobdavyobryan

The opposing band

latechband

The Brigade contingent at the game. This was me 36 years ago (at the old Garden State Bowl in December 1980)

brigadecontingent

Navy enters the field!

navyentersthefield

Halftime enlistment ceremony

enlistment

Selfie at the game

babsmeselfie

On the way back to the car: note the purple (TCU’s color)

purpleandsilvertreestcudec2016

Mexican food after the game

mexicanfoodafter

December 25, 2016 Posted by | college football, football, travel | , | Leave a comment

Iowa leaves Illinois out in the cold 28-0

It was 37 F and very windy…cold. That, plus Illinois being on Fall Break made for a sparse crowd. Even Barbara waited this one out in the warm Student Union.

She didn’t miss much though; the first half saw a defensive battle in which Illinois could not take advantage of an interception. In the second quarter, Iowa drove down deep and on 3’rd down, ran it inside the Illinois 2 only to be stripped of the ball. Illinois couldn’t move the ball though and punted..and had the punt returned for a touchdown.

Iowa wide receiver Riley McCarron (83) returns a punt for a touchdown during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Bradley Leeb)

Iowa wide receiver Riley McCarron (83) returns a punt for a touchdown during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Bradley Leeb)

That was the scoring for the first half.

I watched the third quarter from the upper deck hoping to get some sun. No avail, but I had a great view of a 76 yard touchdown drive by Iowa that ate up about 7 minutes (mostly running).

The Illini threw an interception and Iowa attempted a drive. But they got it to the 22 and went for it on 4’th and long, due to field goal kicking woes (and a strong wind). They did not make it.

Illinois drove it to the 48 and on 4’th and 3, went for it and failed; 2 plays later Iowa broke a 50+ yard touchdown run to go up 21-0. The Illini fumbled the ensuing kick off; Iowa said “thank you” via another short touchdown drive to ice it 28-0.

Iowa finished with 262 rushing yards and won the overall yardage battle 342-198. The Illini defense played reasonably well for a half but was eventually worn down by Iowa’s running.

Highlights (if you want to call them that)

My photos:
comeondefenseiowa

seniordayiowa

illinoiscampusiowa

illinibandiowa

Workout notes: 4 mile walk in 46:38 on the treadmill. Yeah, that is slightly faster than some of my training runs.

November 20, 2016 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | Leave a comment

Fun FCS afternoon: Illinois State beats Missouri State 37-0

Workout notes: weights then a short 2 mile walk. weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (15-15-10-10), incline press: 10 x 135, 7 x 150, 10 x 135, military press: 3 sets of 10 x 180 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 machine rows, headstand, 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts.

The Riverplex was a spandex palace!

Then to watch some FCS ball: Illinois State vs. Missouri State:

isumostate2

isumostate20161

The game itself was a butt kicking. It ended 37-0, with the Redbirds rolling up 514 total yards, including 268 rushing yards. It was 20-0 at the half, and that included a field goal off of a turn over and a touchdown when Missouri State went for it on 4’th and 1 on their own 37.

The second half: more domination; the line opened big holes and gave the quarterback plenty of time to find open receivers.

In other games; I missed Navy’s exciting 42-40 win over Tulsa, Notre Dames 44-6 wipe out of Army, Texas losing 24-20 to West Virginia and Illinois getting bombed 48-3 by Wisconsin.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | college football, football | | Leave a comment

Illinois 31 Michigan State 27: zero turnovers for the Illini

Ok, the stats might tell a different story: total offense: Michigan State 490, Illinois 304. Time of possession: 41:36 to 18:34, Michigan State’s favor. First downs: 28 to 14, Spartans.

But the Spartans had trouble finishing drives, kicking 4 field goals and turning it over on downs at the Illini 15. The Illini got touchdowns (and one field goal) and that was the difference.

The game started predictably enough. Illinois went 3 and out; Michigan State had a long drive for a field goal. 3 and out for the Illini again; long drive by MSU reaches the Illini 15 before 2 holding penalties and a sack push them out of field goal range; the MSU offensive line had trouble with the Illini pass rush all day.

Then it was mostly punts prior to a short field drive leading to a MSU field goal and a 6-0 lead with 2 minutes to go in the half; at this stage, Illinois has ZERO first downs.

But then momentum shifted for good: the Illini put together a 73 yard touchdown drive, mostly on passing but a nifty draw play for 19 yards finished the drive. So at the half, Illinois lead 7-6 though MSU had won from the scrimmage line for the first 28 minutes.

ilmsu1

The second half saw MSU make another drive, for another field goal. It was now 9-7, but Illinois struck back with a drive of its own capped by a 64 yard touchdown run. The Illini was looking sharp; the line was blocking well. Then MSU fumbled on a running play; Illinois recovered but had to settle for a field goal. 17-9.

There was an exchange of punts, then Michigan State’s first touchdown drive of the afternoon; they hit a pass for 2 points to tie it at 17 going into the 4’th.

But by now, the Illini offense was clicking; a 70 yard touchdown drive followed. It was now 24-17.

Michigan State took 6 minutes off of the clock and got a field goal to cut it to 24-20. The MSU defense got a stop and then came the next to last Michigan State drive.

On 3’rd and 4 at the 13, the MSU quarterback hit the tight end right in the hands in the endzone..and he dropped it. But on 4’th down, a MSU receiver made a spectacular catch at the end of the endzone to put MSU up 27-24 with 2:52 to play. I thought that Illinois might lose.

But the Illini came right back, aided by a couple of pass interference calls (one was very obvious). A touchdown pass put the Illini up 31-27 with 1:35 to play.

But then MSU drove it down to the Illini 15, but turned it over on downs. That ended the game.

It was quite a beautiful fall day; I got in a 3 mile walk prior to it.

Now for a few of my photos:

Celebrating the win after the game:

illinimsuwin

Game action:

ilmsu2

Cubs tribute at halftime:

ilmsucubstribute

Taking the field:

ilmsuentering

Fall colors on campus:

ilmsufallcolors

November 6, 2016 Posted by | college football, football | | 1 Comment